On Preparing for Easter

Holy Week is upon us, perhaps bringing the thought of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or Easter to your mind. I wonder, though, if any of us think of Maundy Thursday, that just before Good Friday? Maundy Thursday recalls the Passover that Jesus shared with his disciples, which we often refer to as The Last Supper (recorded in John 13). The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “command,” referencing the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Supper,

“Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Simon Peter asks Jesus where He is going.

“Where I am going you cannot follow me now,
but you will follow afterward.”

Just before this, Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet, which would customarily have been done by a servant. He has also led them in the inaugural observance of communion.

“This is My body, broken for you.
This is My blood, shed for you.”

Can you imagine the disciples’ confusion?

Keep reading at Sparrow Conference.

ordinary time.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

The Season of Ordinary Time

What is the time span of the season? Ordinary Time begins the day after Pentecost. In 2016, it began on May 16th. (Jared’s 30th birthday was last weekend and I needed to take a break from blogging, so I missed introducing Ordinary Time & documenting Trinity Sunday.) Holidays include:

Trinity Sunday – May 22
Visitation of Mary – May 31
Nativity of St. John the Baptist – June 24
Holy Cross Day – September 14
All Saints’ Day – November 1 (observed November 5)
Christ the King Sunday – November 20

What’s this season all about?
“Ordinary Time is the season of the everyday…perhaps it is for Ordinary Time that all of [the prior] seasons prepare us, for it is in our everyday lives that the lessons of each season play out and bring about change.”
– Lacy Clark Ellman, Sacred Seasons Calendar

“The Season after Pentecost is a season of Ordinary Time, after the Church is given the gift of the Holy Spirit as a companion and tasked with carrying out God’s work in the world. This is the longest season the liturgical year, celebrating our role in the ongoing life of Christ.”
– Jenn Giles Kemper, Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook

What’s the history of this observance?
Ordinary Time is different from the rest of the seasons in that it is, well, ordinary. This season is marked by the activities of the thriving Christian life – discipleship, faithfulness, service, relationships, ministry, stewardship, creativity, etc.

What’s it to me?
Mmm, Ordinary Time is our bread and butter, Christian. This is what we are here for. We store up and cherish the holy, wild moments of our faith – the moments occurring at advent, lent, Easter, Pentecost – and we treasure them as we go. The fact that Ordinary Time begins the dawn after Pentecost is fueled with meaning. Now that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, it is time to go and do, to love our neighbor and make disciples.

It’s easy for us to believe that commonness is empty or flat, but Ordinary Time tells us differently. Commonness is dimensional, it is filled with meaning and purpose. It’s the season we were designed to engage with all the calling, vocation, and passion within us. It’s the season where we empty ourselves on behalf of others, that they may know the love of Christ. I’m thankful for a season that gives hard work a rich context, weaving it in to the life hidden in Christ.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Ordinary Time beckons us to engage our everyday lives with purpose, passion and reliance on the Holy Spirit. This is the season for ministry, discipleship, hands to the plow.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray, or perhaps memorize, one or more of the prayers for Ordinary Time.

Read At The Intersection of Time and Eternity by Michelle Van Loon (a lot of links for various denominational observance of Ordinary Time included).

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the season of Ordinary Time.

For kids: Ordinary Time lines up well in our part of the world with the conclusion of the school year and beginning of summer. As you make plans and/or a schedule for the summer with your kids, consider implementing a small service project or engaging in a ministry opportunity or two that will help your kids pick up on the rhythm of Ordinary Time.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?


What are your ideas for observing Ordinary Time?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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ascension of the Lord.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Ascension of the Lord
(also called “Feast of the Ascension”)

What’s this holy day all about?
Ascension of the Lord is the observance of the fortieth day after the Resurrection (celebrated on Easter), when Jesus ascended into Heaven. The ascension is recorded in Acts 1:1-11.

What’s the history of this observance?
“Though the New Testament writers don’t devote a lot of words to explaining the details and significance of Jesus’ ascent, the Ascension would become an essential part of Christian doctrine. Both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds include a statement about the Ascension. The church was celebrating the Feast of the Ascension as early as the fifth century, if not earlier” (citation).

What’s it to me?
The Ascension represents a great deal to the Christian, teaching us more about the person and power of Jesus. Jesus does not merely vanish, as He had done before (road to Emmaus), He rises and disappears into the cloud. Tim Keller writes that this may have been to conjure up images of a coronation ceremony. Jesus maintains His humanity as He passes through the time-space continuum and joins the Father.

So…what’s it to me? Let’s be honest. These are the accounts in Scripture that make me think, this. faith. is. nuts. We actually believe this! We actually believe that our God made man dwelt among us, lived a perfect life, died that we may live, was resurrected from the dead, then ascended into heaven. There’s a part of me that almost starts laughing at these crazy realities. I near giggle at the wild, the rampant God-ness of it all. The Ascension calls me to press in to the deep, supernatural, He is a little like us but we are nothing like Him truths of Christianity. And it compels me to long for His return.

A bit more concretely, Jeff Robinson writes that Tim Keller observes:

  1. The ascended Christ is available for loving communication and fellowship. He is supremely personal.
  2. The ascended Christ is supremely powerful. As the ascended king, he is sovereign over every part of the created order.
  3. The ascended Christ guarantees that you can know you are forgiven, accepted, and delighted in by God the Father. He is our advocate who intercedes constantly for us.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Ascension of the Lord commemorates the day when Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after the resurrection.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray the Collect for the Annunciation: Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. 

or

Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Take some time to watch the clouds, to consider what it would have been like to watch Jesus pass through them, His promises still ringing in your ears.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of the Easter season through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Easter/Eastertide.

For kids: Ann Voskamp has assembled a great list of ideas, which includes cloud watching, releasing balloons, and making a rainbow cake to represent the rainbows encircling Jesus on the throne.


I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing The Ascension?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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the annunciation of the lord.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Annunciation of the Lord
(also called “Feast of the Annunciation” or “Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary”)

What’s this holy day all about?
Annunciation (definition: announcing) of the Lord marks the day when the angel Gabriel came to visit Mary, declaring to her that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. The Annunciation is typically observed on March 25th (exactly 9 months before Christmas), but is never celebrated during Holy Week, so this year it is observed on April 4th. It is recorded in Luke 1:26-38. The Annunciation occurs during the season of Eastertide.

What’s the history of this observance?
“The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates back to at least the 6th century, and is mentioned between AD 530 and 533 in a sermon by Abraham of Ephesus. In the West, the first authentic reference is in the Gelasian Sacramentary in the 7th century. The tenth Synod of Toledo (AD 656), and Trullan Synod (AD 692) speak of the Annunciation feast as universally celebrated in the Catholic Church. In the Acts of the latter council, the feast is exempted from the Lenten fast.” (citation)

What’s it to me?
The Annunciation represents a great deal to the Christian, both in the facts of what actually happened on that miraculous day, and how the story informs our lives even still. Through Gabriel, God declared that, in fulfillment of prophecy, His Son would enter the world, establishing “a kingdom that will never end.” We are reminded of the radical, saving, loving, unstoppable plan of God to redeem humanity back to Himself. Mary’s humility and submission in her response speaks volumes about her deep faith, her strength and her certainty of God’s goodness. She asks how she will become pregnant, and what she is told sounds impossible, yet she believes, though her subsequent pregnancy will likely cause scorn and marginalization by her fiance, Joseph, family and community. She trusts that that which the messenger of God has declared not only will come to pass, but is the best thing that could happen, and she willingly accepts his mission, beckoning us to do the same.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Annunciation of the Lord commemorates the day when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her she would become pregnant, give birth, have a Son and name Him Jesus, whose kingdom would have no end.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts and pray the Collect for the Annunciation.

Pray the Collect for the Annunciation: Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The unborn Jesus is not often discussed in Evangelicalism. This article presents some interesting reasons why, and observes how the unborn Jesus influences (or should influence) the pro-life position. Celebrate life by supporting a local pregnancy outreach center financially or by asking how you can volunteer.

Consider what it is to be filled with the Spirit as Mary was filled with Jesus. Ponder the Fruit of the Spirit, asking God to make them manifest in your life by the Spirit who lives in you.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of the Easter season through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Easter/Eastertide.

Add touches of white to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

For kids: In Sweden, this holiday is celebrated with WAFFLES! How fun is that? Make waffles (for any meal) and talk to your kids about how Mary said yes to God even in fear, even before she had all the answers. Celebrate her bravery! Find all kinds of coloring sheets and activities here.


I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing The Annunciation?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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good friday.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Good Friday

What’s this holy day all about?
Good Friday marks the day when the Jewish religious leaders demanded that the Roman officials kill Jesus. Based on what the Jewish leaders believed to be blasphemy (Jesus’ claim to be God) and the Roman officials’ belief that He was a threat to their government (due to Jesus’ claim to be King), they convicted Him and sentenced Him to death. Jesus was beaten, flogged, scorned, given a crown of thorns, and nailed to a cross. As He was dying, He invited the thief hanging on the cross next to Him into paradise; He fulfilled prophecy; He claimed “it is finished.” On Good Friday, most simply, we remember Christ crucified (John 18-19).

What’s the history of this observance?
There are records of Good Friday observances as early as the 4th century. The holy day eventually became known as a day of fasting and penance. Historically, many Christians have observed Good Friday by commemorating the “Stations of the Cross,” which is a series of fourteen events surrounding Christ’s death. It is also traditional to venerate a cross in a ceremony.

What’s it to me?
Everything. This day is everything to us. This is the day that we nailed him to the tree, the day that our sin and the brokenness of this world lost its power over us because the blood of the perfect Lamb was spilled. “It is finished,” Jesus said, just before He died. That’s what this day is to us. It is the day where all that we owed was paid, where all the sin and chaos we started was finished. This is the day we each deserved to face ourselves, yet our burden has been carried instead.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Good Friday commemorates the day when Jesus was crucified and killed at the hands of jealous Jewish religious leaders, Roman government officials, and, ultimately, each of us. This is the day of the Lamb of God, the sacrificed One, Who takes away the sins of the world.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Read + pray the liturgy for Good Friday.

It’s not too late to join us for an the remainder of our Holy Week journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Attend a Stations of the Cross and/or Good Friday service at your church or in your community.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

Reflect upon the debt that was paid for you at the cross, and give thanks to the One Who loved you so much that He paid it.

For kids: Bake a hot cross bun together. Braid yarn or string to make a Triduum Bracelet. Read an account of Christ’s crucifixion from the Jesus Storybook Bible or other children’s Bible.

Create a playlist from songs we’ve been gathering on the Facebook page, where we asked what people were they have been listening to in order to orient their hearts during Holy Week.

Suggestions:
Death Was Arrested by Gwinnett Worship
Oh the Blood by Kari Jobe
Power of the Cross by Natalie Grant
High Noon by Andrew Peterson
Christ is Risen by Matt Maher
This I Believe, Our Father & Calvary by Hillsong Worship
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
There is a Fountain Filled with Blood
Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
Hallelujah! What a Savior


I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Maundy Thursday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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maundy thursday.

On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey. 

Maundy Thursday
(also called “Holy Thursday”)

What’s this holy day all about?
On Maundy Thursday we reflect upon Jesus’ observance of Passover with His disciples (recorded in Matthew 26). “The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for ‘command.’ The ‘Maundy’ in ‘Maundy Thursday’ refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another” (citation). The two major components of our remembrance are the institution of Communion/The Lord’s Supper and Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

What’s the history of this observance?
There are records of Maundy Thursday celebrations from the Middle Ages, and, while Maundy Thursday is certainly a special observance all its own, there is a sense in which we observe it each time we take communion and remember Jesus’ last supper with His disciples.

What’s it to me?
This passage puts us face to face with the truths Jesus deemed most important to impart to those closest to Him before He walked the road to the cross. “Remember me,” He said, and “love one another as I have loved you.” Those commands are so simple in their wording, yet I find them to be so difficult in their application sometimes. I overcomplicate; I refuse to walk into the small and simple ways of remembering, of loving. Maundy Thursday calls us away from all of our cultural and personal attempts to add to Christianity, leading us back to a faith centered around the person, work and words of Jesus Christ.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Maundy Thursday represents the day when Jesus observed the Passover/had The Last Supper with His disciples. It is here that He commanded his disciples to love one another as He had loved them, instituted communion and washed His disciples feet. Maundy Thursday beckons us to remember intentionally and love sacrificially.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray the “Collect” for Maundy Thursday.

It’s not too late to join us for an 8-day Holy Week journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Host a Passover Seder with friends or your family. If that’s too much to pull off this year, file this away for next year and perhaps look through it and choose one component to talk about at dinner tonight.

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

Take a moment to write down a few areas of Christian life and/or ministry where you are tempted to be distracted from the foundational principles of remembering intentionally and loving well. Ask the Spirit to make you sensitive to those distractions and to remind you of the person, work and words of Jesus spoken at the Last Supper.

For kids: Put together a simple craft, or choose a “love one another” coloring page, and share the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my new Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?


What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Maundy Thursday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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Holy Week + Palm Sunday

 On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.

Holy Week | Palm Sunday

What is the time span of the season? Holy Week is the final week of Lent, beginning with Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday prior to Easter. Holy days include:

Palm Sunday – March 20
Maundy Thursday – March 24
Good Friday – March 25
Holy Saturday –  March 26

What’s this week + holy day all about?
Holy Week marks the week of Christ’s journey toward the cross, beginning with The Triumphal Entry/Palm Sunday, which we observe today (and is recorded in Matthew 21). By riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, Jesus fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9.

“The large company of pilgrims, mainly from Galilee, were acknowledging Jesus as a King by “spreading” their coats on “the road” before Him (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). Likewise, throwing small “branches from the trees” before Him symbolized the same thing (cf. 1 Macc. 13:51; 2 Macc. 10:7).

Rulers rode donkeys in Israel during times of peace (Judg. 5:10; 1 Kings 1:33). This was a sign of their humble service to the people. Warriors rode horses. Jesus was preparing to declare His messiahship by fulfilling this messianic prophecy. By coming in peace, He was extending grace rather than judgment to the city. He was coming as a servant now. He would return as a conquering King riding on a war horse later (cf. Rev. 19:11).

Jesus rode on the “colt” (a young male donkey), not on its mother, the donkey (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). It would have been remarkable that Jesus was able to control a presumably unbroken animal, moving through an excited crowd with an unfamiliar burden on its back. This was just one more demonstration that Jesus was the Messiah who was the master of nature (cf. 8:23-27; 14:22-32). Surely He could bring peace to Israel if He could calm the young colt (Isa. 11:1-10).”
– Dr. Tom Constable

What’s the history of this observance?
There are records of Palm Sunday observances taking place as early as the 4th century, marked by a procession and in the 8th century, a blessing of the palms. – Church Year

What’s it to me?
As Jesus rode in on the donkey, the crowd shouted, “Hosanna!, which means, “save us now!” This challenges me to consider what I demand of Him, to realize how often it is relief now, peace now, comfort now. Jesus has come to give relief and peace; He is the One, True Comfort, but I am so rarely willing to wait, to let my definitions be rewritten in His terms. Palm Sunday prompts my heart to recognize Who Jesus really is and what that means for my life, instead of demanding that He conform to my desires.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
Palm Sunday observes the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. The Jewish crowd seemed to recognize Him as King, as they laid their coats and palm branches in His pathway and called for Him to save them. The Triumphal Entry was a specific fulfillment of a messianic prophecy, a fulfillment which communicates loud and clear – Christ is King.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Read & pray the “liturgy & litany” for Palm Sunday.

Join us for an 8-day journey through a simple devotional. Click to have Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant emailed to you.

Read Jerusalem Greer’s Holy Week ideas from last year (family friendly).

Download the Sacred Ordinary Days Essentials Workbook and grow in your understanding of Lent + Holy Week through the one page summary. Then use the workbook pages to reflect on the past season and reset for the remainder of the season of Lent.

Add touches of purple (reminds us of Christ’s painful death and His royalty) and red (reminds us of Jesus’ shedding of blood) to your home through decor, flowers or candles.

Consider the places in your life where you want Jesus’ rescue now, where patience and long-suffering seem so hard to come by. Ask Him to draw you to a place of deeper trust and awareness of His sympathy this week as you ponder His own journey of suffering.

For kids: Read this version of the account of the Triumphal Entry. Make a palm frond, or a donkey.

I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my new Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?


What are your ideas for observing Holy Week + Palm Sunday?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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deep & lowly: a devotional for Holy Week.

Last week, I posted about my struggle with depression. I shocked myself a bit by actually publishing it, but my surprise at my own writing was nothing compared to my surprise at the volume and vulnerability of the responses I received. I am so sure that I’m not alone in this, because so many of you told me that I’m not.

Convinced of the sisterhood of the long winter (brothers welcome too!), I wrote an 8-day devotional for Holy Week, for us, called Deep & Lowly: taking refuge in the Suffering Servant.

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The devotional is made up of 8 simple, daily pages of with Scripture, my reflections and questions for you. It is for those of us in the pressed down places, and for those of us who want to know the sufferings of Christ more fully. If you’re reading this, I think it very well may be for you, whether your life is a blizzard or breezy these days, whether there is pain in your heart or your past or the lives of those around you. Our High Priest is one who sympathizes with our greatest weaknesses and pain, and that is why I wrote this devotional.

Anyone who is signed up for the mailing list by 5pm today will receive the devotional by email this evening. After that, it will go out to anyone who signs up tonight through Easter Sunday in their immediate welcome email.

Throughout next week I will be publishing reframe posts for each of the Holy Days and coordinated discussion on the devotional. I would be so honored and thankful to have you join me, and to invite a friend or two along, especially someone who knows well the long winter.

My heart craves to know Jesus as refuge, and that is what I am praying constantly for you and me in these days leading to Easter. May we be hidden in Him in every way.

when life is a whirlwind & He sympathizes with my weaknesses.

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A few days ago, I stood at the sink in our kitchen, washing my hands, thinking. I looked up at the liturgical calendar I keep on the bar, the one nestled between pictures of the little boys, behind the holy day candle. The calendar stands there to remind me of the seasons, to anchor me in time.

Each page of the calendar tells me of a season based on the life of Christ. Right now, of course, it says “Lent.” Alongside the name of the season, various themes are displayed. And as I looked up from the trickling faucet, glanced away from my dripping hands, one theme caught my eye: disruption.

I felt the prick in my spirit immediately, recognized the inner knowing nod, the familiar frustration. In the last 8 days, Gabriel got sick, then got better just in time to go to Shriners. Twice. Then Jared got sick. Gabriel is now clingy and cautious, sore knees that haven’t directly touched the floor in weeks and uncertainty about what will happen when people touch him, what is coming next if I release him from my arms. Owen is feeling the chaos, trying to sort it out, asking me if Gabe has another “ma-ppointment,” if he has a babysitter coming.

This morning, I have called at least 6 different phone numbers trying to get a medical paperwork question answered to no avail. Both kids want my engagement at every level, want to climb on me and lay on me and are unimpressed by me attempts to engage them in independent activities. Right now, they are decorating a laundry basket with pipe cleaners and ribbon, and I suspect this will last for about 42 seconds. Actually, I overestimated. Gabriel is now 10 inches away from me pulling the cleaning supplies out from the cabinet (we’re big time “safety first” people around here, clearly) and Owen is yelling for me help him decorate his “rocket ship,” because “this is hard work.”

Gabriel has learned how to say “mommy” recently, which I treasure, storing up the gentle, excited sing-song of his voice.  But sometimes, his call makes me wonder how mommy-ish I really am; it makes me wonder if I have the tenderness these littles need. It makes me wonder why I feel like I’m one of the “mom” mothers, not the “mommy” mothers. It makes me wonder what it means when people observe that I don’t talk to my kids “like they’re kids.” It makes me wonder if I’ll be better at this when they’re teenagers.

I keep thinking about that word, disruption, about how just because our life has a high level of intensity, that doesn’t mean the little nuisances of everyday life won’t still happen. It all happens. The big and the small happen all at once, or they alternate, or they go quiet simultaneously or they get loud together and life is either a season of disruption or a season of waiting for it, of training my heart not to fear the future, not to assume that frustration is coming, but doesn’t it seem like it inevitably does?

Disruption in the context of Lent grips me hard and forces me to a lower places than I’m naturally prone to go. It transports me to the reality of the disruption of Jesus, of His perfect, earthly existence, of His sudden confinement to a body of a flesh, of endless worship turned to fatal scorn. He was not acknowledged for who He was, was not beheld, was not treasured or recognized. He was disrupted at the deepest level, disrupted unto death.

And the thing is, I don’t think that the Spirit is calling the death of Jesus to my mind in order to shame me. I don’t think He’s minimizing my disruption or negating it. I think that He is calling me to mirror Jesus in His acceptance, to acknowledge the pain and the imperfection and the wishing it could be another way and to keep going, to press in, to be willing to endure disruption, confident of the promises to come.

When I question my motherhood, when I think someone else could do this better than I could, when I see my limitations and weaknesses staring back at me in the form of two tiny faces, I think of disruption, of how to lean into it and not away from it, of how thankful I am that Jesus did not cling to that which was rightfully His. I am asking the Spirit to remind me of how unconcerning it actually is if I feel like a “mommy” mother or a “mom” mother, because I am the mother who is here, the mother who loves and prays and brings alongside, the mother God appointed for the boys He gave us. I think of how He is the One who decided that an introverted, thinking over feeling, writing over crafting woman would be the nurturer of these little souls, would be the mother who tries to live a life where experienced disruption is not equivalent to internalized depression so that her children can engage a broken world with strength, with the expectation of pain and the endurance to bear it.

Disruption is not my ideal, but it is not eternal either. And the Jesus Who faced ultimate disruption is eternal, so while I wait for the paperwork phone call and for Daddy to come home and for Gabriel’s anxious heart to calm, I’ll think of Him, how He knows more of disruption than I ever will. And maybe by the end of the day I’ll know Him, I’ll trust Him, just a tiny bit more.


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the feast of the transfiguration (reframe series).

the feast of the transfiguration - joy woven deep

What day does it fall on? According to the Revised Common Lectionary, The Transfiguration is observed on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday/Lent; in 2016, that’s February 7. Some denominations celebrate in August.

What season are we in? Epiphany/Ordinary Time (January 6 to February 9, 2016)

What’s this day all about?
The Feast of the Transfiguration celebrates the account told in Luke 9:28-36, which occurs just after the disciples have vehemently rejected the idea of Jesus being put to death. Jesus takes Peter, John and James up on a mountain and reveals Himself to them in His glory and splendor. Moses and Elijah are there as well, reflecting Christ’s radiance. Peter is so awestruck by the occurrence that he suggests that he, James and John build three tents in which Jesus, Elijah and Moses can dwell. Immediately after he says this, God speaks from a low, heavy cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my chosen One, listen to Him.” The cloud departs, and Jesus is found alone.

What’s the history of this celebration?
The Feast of the Transfiguration has been celebrated since the late fourth century. It is celebrated at different times of the year in various sects of Christianity, but many celebrate it on the Sunday before Lent, as it reminds us to worship and be strengthened by the glory of God in order to prepare for the upcoming journey to the cross.

 

What’s it to me?
I am completely taken by the reflective and prophetic imagery in this passage. Just as a cloud of God’s presence descended upon His dwelling place, the tabernacle, a cloud of His presence descends upon God made flesh. Moses and Elijah are, too, rich with meaning. Moses represents the Law of God, Elijah the Prophecy of God, Moses the dead who had been buried, Elijah the living since He had been “taken” and never died. Jesus’ clear superiority as shown in the transfiguration, as Moses and Elijah reflect His glory (rather than producing their own), proclaims that He is Lord over all. Jesus is the true and better Law. He is the true and better Prophet. He is Master over the Living and the Dead. And He is gracious, so very gracious, to show His glory to John, James and Peter who have just scorned His declaration that His death was soon to come.

So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Transfiguration calls us to remember the majesty and glory of Jesus. As He was shown in His splendor, He was proven to be greater than the two “greatest” among the Jews. May we reflect on how much greater He is than anyone else, anything else we exalt, and may this be the spirit in which we begin to prepare our hearts for the season of Lent.

So, how could we observe it?

Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.

Read the Lectionary texts.

Pray “the Collect” for The Transfiguration (titled “Last Sunday after the Epiphany).

Read the hymn on this page alone or with others.

Discuss with friends or family the things that are so natural to magnify as the best, whether they be secular or religious (just as Moses and Elijah were magnified in Jewish culture). After discussion, listen to the song “Jesus is Better” together.

Consider a command of Jesus that is hard for you follow. Ask the Spirit to lead you in obeying God’s call to “listen to” Jesus.

Sit down with your Bible and a concordance (or website) and discover:
– When else in Scripture is a mountain a place where people meet with God?
– When else does a cloud have a role in God’s communication with His people?

For kids:
– Explain that “transfigured” means “changed or transformed.” Discuss other examples of something changing or transforming.
– Take your kids outside to look at clouds. While you’re gazing, talk about how God loved us so much that He spoke from a huge, low cloud to tell us His deep desire for us – to listen to His Son.

Sources: here, here & here.


I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?

What are your ideas for observing The Transfiguration?

Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?

Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?

From Him | Through Him | To Him,
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