Day Twenty Two: Home

2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Luke 1:46b-55
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

This year was a tumultuous one for my family and I as we sold the house that we had dreamed of, built, and lived in for fifteen years; packed a lifetime of memories into 52 boxes; and immigrated to an unfamiliar land with the hope and the promise that God would go ahead to prepare a place for us ….

In the midst of all the uncertainty and anxiety lay this grace: that we had a home to go to, a place of our own where we would be sheltered and safe while jobs, schools, church, furnishing etc. slowly fell into place.

Home. Our home. From the moment we inserted the key in the lock and opened up a welcome space, all of the unfamiliarities and inconveniences and heartaches suddenly seemed manageable.

Home.

King David had found one in the conquered city of Jerusalem. All settled in, he was suddenly conscious of the fact that while he enjoyed the comfort and protection of his cedar house, the Spirit of the Lord had been residing in a plain tent since the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Yet even as he ponders building a dignified sanctuary for the Lord, God declares:

“ I shall build you a house.
I who took you from leading sheep to leading my people,
who raised you from a humble shepherd to a conquering king;
I who have been with you and gone before
and granted you victory after victory over your enemies –
I will appoint a place for my people
and ensure that your family and your royal kingdom are permanently ensured”
(2 Samuel 7:11-16, paraphrased).

Home.

A home worthy for a king: the King of Creation, our Prince of Peace.

And so God sent the angel Gabriel to a small village called Nazareth, in Galilee, to a young virgin named Mary who was engaged to be married to a man from David’s line.

And Gabriel appeared to her and said:

“Good morning!
You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out!
God be with you,”
(Luke 1:28, The Message).

Mary was perplexed – and probably more than a little shaken – to receive such a greeting from this divine messenger.

As we may well be when we realise that God does not want to be housed in an ornate temple that we visit on sacred days or even relegated to the mysterious heights of heavens …

but God chooses to make God’s home with and within us.

God is with us:
settled into the ordinary and the everyday of our routines,
present  for our wonderings and our worryings,
sitting in on our questions and our conversations,
welcoming the visitors to our door
and walking with us through the neighbourhood …

… God is home

… we remember and we celebrate – particularly this night.

Light a candle or leave a light on this night as a symbol of welcome and invitation to God who longs to make home with you.

Day Sixteen: War Cry

Psalm 125
1 Kings 18:1-18
Ephesians 6:10-17

There are certain passages of Scripture – particularly stories of conquest in the Old Testament – that always summon the words of an old hymn now long out of favour for its militant imagery and  imperialistic associations to mind.

Today’s texts do the same.

As I read of the prophet Elijah’s deliberate encounter with the evil king Ahab after months in hiding, and anticipate that epic showdown between the prophets of Baal and this faithful servant of God, the refrain begins:

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

As I imagine the stamping feet of hundreds of pilgrims heading towards Jerusalem, praying (Psalm 125:4-5),
O Lord, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
But banish those who turn to crooked ways,
O Lord.
Take them away with those who do evil,

the rhythm builds:

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

As I hear the apostle Paul urging the Christians of Ephesus to put on the full armour of God so that they might stand firm in the spiritual battle in which they were engaged against their old paganism with its dark thoughts, dirty talk, and immoral ways, the cry resounds:

Onward, Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

Unpopular, outdated, uncomfortable as the metaphor may be, in this season of watching and waiting for the Christ-King, today’s Scripture (the sword of the Spirit) opens our eyes to what is going on in the vast unknown of the spiritual realm.

There is a spiritual war going on; a showdown between God and Satan in every part of the cosmos, in earth and in heaven; forces of darkness and evil at work in the world even as we celebrate and long for the True Light of Life; an unholy influence evident where dictators usurp power and the human institutions created to protect and preserve life become instruments of corruption and oppression.

What are we to do in the face of such an intimidating foe?

Trust in God,” the Psalmist answers. “Like Mount Zion, nothing can move Him; nor those who are encircled in his arms forever,” (Psalm 125:1-2).

Stand firm in the power of the God-of-Angel-Armies, as Elijah did when he defied Ahab’s accusations: “It’s not I who has caused trouble in Israel,” said Elijah, “but you and your government—you’ve dumped God’s ways and commands and run off after the local gods …” (1 Kings 18:18).

Put on God’s armour and take your stand in God’s strength – the same strength that God used to conquer death and raise Jesus from the grave!

“Truth, righteousness, peace, faith,
and salvation are more than words.
Learn how to apply them …. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon …. prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare …. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out”
(
Ephesians 6:14-18, The Message).   

Today, pray long and hard for brothers and sisters in the faith …

… for those who are going through a particularly tough time …

… for those whose spirits are low or who are struggling with their faith ….

Day Fifteen: The Song of The Spirit

Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11
Luke 1:46b-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8,19-28

Over the second week of Advent, we encountered a God who longs to break open the way of Right and Whole living for us and to lead us into the light, the space, the zest that life with God is all about.

It may seem increasingly difficult to hold onto the gifts of sufficiency, hospitality, and eternity that we have received as our footsteps quicken with the countdown to Christmas but our daily Scripture readings urge us to keep seeking the Son; to take a breath with the Spirit in the midst of the busyness …

… and remember that the Good News of God with us is the promise of God’s power and presence transforming the ordinary, the every day; even the busy day into blessing ….

This week we awaken to the song of the Spirit:

bursting forth from the prophet Isaiah – a powerful proclamation
of good news to the poor
and healing to the heartbroken;
of freedom to the captive
and pardon to all prisoners;
of comfort to those in mourning
and favour to the least …

… the exaltation of a young virgin’s troubled heart set free to glorify the Lord and rejoice in God, her Saviour, for showing such care to a humble, simple servant and making her the most fortunate woman on earth …

inspiring the apostle Paul to write during times of imprisonment and persecution to be joyful and give thanks in all that happens …

truth-telling through John the Baptist concerning the Light that was coming into the world so that all could be clean, new, free.

The song of the Spirit:
… an overture of love thrummed by the morning’s sunrise,
accompanied by mountain-creaks and river gurgles,
the cheeky chirps of the blackbird in the garden,
the wind’s playful passage through the trees …

… an invitation to discern through
the cacophony of car horns, the press of people, the agenda of tasks, the juggling of roles

crotchets of compassion,
minims of mercy,
breath marks and breaks,
caesura (in which time is not counted),
accents of grace …

… an ancient melody full of promise and  of longing, which is finding fulfilment even in this present moment.

Read again the words of Isaiah (61:10):

“The Lord makes me very happy;
all that I am rejoices in my God.
He has covered me with clothes of salvation
and wrapped me with a coat of goodness,
like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding,
like a bride dressed in jewels.”

Sit for some time in silence, becoming aware of the Spirit with and within in ….

Then, when you are ready, write your own song of praise beginning with the words, “The Lord makes me very happy; all that I am rejoices in God. He has ….”

Day Fourteen: Beyond Appearances

The book of Habakkuk is certainly an interesting one. Written probably during the Chaldean period when Babylon was at the height of her power, it is set out as dialogue between the prophet and Jehovah in which God must respond to a series of complaints regarding His punishment and providence.

Throughout the conversation, Habakkuk wrestles, as many of us do with, the apparent prosperity of the wicked while good and holy people suffer, but today’s reading (a continuation from yesterday’s) weaves together the ancient stories of God coming forth to deliver his people – terrifying in His passion and power.

From Joshua’s battle with the Amorites when the sun stood still and the moon stopped in the sky until the nation had been avenged (Habakkuk 3:11), to the surging waters of the Red Sea trampling down the Egyptian’s horses and chariots as the Israelites fled captivity (Habakkuk 3:15), Habakkuk has been nursed on the accounts of a God of Action – Mighty to Save – that enable him to wait patiently despite a clear threat to his personal safety and the wellbeing of his nation as a whole.

He writes, in conclusion of his conversation with Jehovah, of his conscious decision to trust in the Lord and rejoice in his Saviour despite their current plight:

“Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant—
but I will still celebrate
because the Lord God  saves me”
Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Our Gospel reading from Matthew is actually a continuation of day 7’s story in Mark in which Jesus had his authority questioned by the chief priests and elders. (Mark is well known for emphasising Jesus’ miracles and leaving out some of his longer lectures).

Through the parable which Jesus offers them concerning the two sons who are asked to do some work in their father’s vineyard, Jesus points out that the discrepancy between what they profess to believe and what they actually do will ensure that the prostitutes and tax collectors who they so clearly despise will get into heaven way before they do.

John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn’t care enough to change and believe him”
Matthew 21:32 (The Message).

Habakkuk sees everywhere “evidence” of God’s inactivity and apparent desertion yet chooses to celebrate, in faith, the God who has shown himself through the ages as mighty to save.

The religious and political leaders of Israel, on the other hand, see the evidence of God at work, changing lives, but don’t care enough to repent of their falsehood and deceit. Content with their power and position, they offer lip service to God rather than entering into the kind of sacrificial, transformed life that brings ever nearer God’s kingdom – for all.

Look back to the picture you drew of God’s green pastures at the start of the week or think back to your baptism and what it symbolised – the way of life it opened up to you.

Are there any discrepancies between the life that you are called to – the life that God has promised – and the way you feel you’re currently living?

Which life do you truly long for? Consciously claim it right now.

Day Thirteen: On Track

Psalm 126
Habakkuk 3:2-6
Philippians 3:12-16

Here’s a fact that might stop you dead in your tracks: there are over thirty idioms containing the word “track” (I got side-tracked at thirty so I know there are more than that).

Being from the right side or the wrong side of the tracks doesn’t seem to matter to anyone anymore as long as you are on the fast track back to the right track, or is that the inside track …? I lose track … so let me double back and put you on a more beaten track ….

Today’s text are all about the way we’ve chosen to walk in: the track we’ve taken.

From Psalm 126 which is a song of ascent – a pilgrimage or walking song that the people sang as they journeyed towards the temple of Jerusalem) …

… to Habakkuk’s prayer for God to traverse the old salvation route again put to music (on shigionoth – see chapter 3, verse 1) …

… to Paul’s cheer-leader-like exhortations to press on towards the goal and race to win the prize …

… there resounds through each passage a spirit of victory and energy, a call to keep moving onwards at a steady pace.

“Where are we headed?” you might wonder. “Are we there yet?” Donkey might add (if you don’t get the reference, put Shrek 2 down as a must-see movie).

“Home,” comes the answer.

Home.
Heavenwards.
Towards an eternity with God.

What is your instinctual response to these words? Your gut feeling?

Do you have a picture of what home, heaven, eternity will be like?

And this is the part where many of us back track or jump the track for fear that God might mistake our interest in home or heaven as a sure sign that we’re ready to enter into the eternal mystery that is life in and with and through God.

The truth, for most of us, is that we’re quite content to be living in the here and now – even though life is a little messy at times and the world can be an ugly place – with the idea of “eternity” being a one-day-in-the-future dream rather than the goal to which we’re off and running.

Home.
Heavenwards.
Eternity.

Even an eternity with God can be a terrifying concept for it is so intangible, so unquantifiable, so unknown to we who use sight and sound and taste and touch and smell and time to make sense of our world. Yet to know Christ and to walk with God is to willingly enter into an ancient, eternal way while others tremble and turn away (Habakkuk 3:7).

And entering into that way radically shifts our perspective:

… things that seem so pressing and important if life is as short as we think it is might lose their urgency as our sense of time expands …

…  the unknown mysteries that once terrified and confounded us become signposts to wonder and awe as we walk in faith rather than knowledge …

… death is neither end nor beginning but just another step in our deepening communion with the One who Made and Saves and Sustains us ….

Today, if you can sit with the discomfort, contemplate your mortality.

What songs would you want sung at your funeral? Who would attend? What would you be remembered for? Who would you worry most about?

What do you hope comes next? 

 

 

 

Day Twelve: Have Christ

Psalm 126
Habakkuk 2:1-5
Philippians 3:7-11

When my children were younger, the first (few) days of the December holidays were spent sorting through all of the stuff that they had accumulated; donating the intact things which they had outgrown to others; and tossing all of the sticky, broken, unidentifiable items in the bin. I could smugly claim that this agonising process (hated by both mother and children alike) was good parenting or great housekeeping but, in reality, we were simply making space for more stuff that would arrive over the course of Christmas, birthdays, school stationary shopping, and frivolous pocket-money purchases in the year to come.

Our Scripture readings today are all about sufficiency – a foreign concept in a day and age where either …

… we never feel whole or full enough and spend most (if not all) of our hard-earned money on accumulating more stuff in the vain hope that a George Foreman Grill or Miracle Bamboo Bra will transform our homes into the happy places we’ve always dreamed of …

or

… we adamantly reject the consumer culture, rail against the status quo, replace our entire wardrobe with a seasonal clothing capsule (at an extravagant price, 4 seasons a year),

and quote minimalist sentiments like “free yourself to be the mom who sits down and plays” that make others strive even more frantically to be less of a failure and exhaust us in our attempts to maintain the moral high ground ….

Here’s a wise word of warning from the prophet Habakkuk (chapter 2:5, The Message):

“Note well: Money deceives.
The arrogant rich don’t last.
They are more hungry for wealth
than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations, graveyards filled with corpses.”

The more we have,
the hungrier we are for more.
More money.
More power.
More affirmation.
More understanding.
More data.
More time to myself.

What are some of your “mores?”

Don’t forget that the longing for more may actually include some good longings like “more prayer time” or “more time with my kids.” Include these too. 

The main problem with wanting more – no matter how good or righteous or wonderful that more may seem – is that it robs us of the richness of our present circumstance …

… even if that circumstance is a place of genuine poverty and despair ….

Read again and again (and even again) the words of Psalm 126 until your heart has taken hold of the joy of those who had nothing.

Where did that joy come from?

What did the apparent poverty of their circumstance create space for? 

The third chapter of Paul’s letters to the Philippians starts with an emphatic command to REJOICE IN THE LORD!

The source of this rejoicing? Being content to have Christ through the experience of both his resurrection power and a sharing in his suffering (Philippians 3:10).

More. Less. None of matters, Paul writes, compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ firsthand (Philippians 3:8).

Today, have Christ … invite him to fill a particular moment …

… a cup of coffee in a patch of sunlight …

… planting a seedling …

… ditching the George Foreman grill …

… laughing with your loved ones about something silly or nothing in particular at all

… just ENJOY!

 

Day Eleven: Get Ready

Psalm 27
Malachi 2:10-31
Luke 1:5-17

The book of Malachi is the last in the Old Testament. Written after the return from exile, one might expect to find it full of the good news that the people of Israel have finally grasped the fullness of God’s love for them and are sticking with their covenantal promises!

But it’s the same old story …

… treacherous dealings by a corrupt priesthood,
intermarriage with unbelievers,
broken vows,
fragmented families,
God’s love for sinners wrongly interpreted
as permission to sin ….

You know whose story is not the same? Zechariah and Elizabeth’s. We read in the Gospel of Luke that he was an upstanding priest, an honourable man; that they both walked in truth and righteousness, according to God’s commands.

They were faithful – to God and to one another. Yet Elizabeth was barren.

In those days, her inability to bear children would have been interpreted as a curse from God, a judgement for some secret sin.

For years, she would have been a subject of gossip and speculation – as though the pain of being childless and the strain upon her marriage was not enough!

But, as God had done with Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah before, an unexpected miracle occurred – the news of a son who would be a joy and delight to them and to many …

… bringing the people of Israel back to God, yet again;
softening hearts in the style and strength of Elijah;
kindling devotion and understanding, even among the sceptics;
getting the people ready for God
(Luke 1:16-17).

Well, Zechariah wasn’t ready for this news! As much as he had walked closely with God for all those years, he couldn’t quite bring himself to believe what he was hearing (read a bit beyond today’s text to the end of verse 20).

I wonder if the Israelites were ever truly ready. They were ready for liberation, ready for restoration, ready for land and blessing … but were they ready for the demands and obligations of a covenantal relationship with their Saviour?

Are we?!?

This season of Advent is the time in which we get ourselves ready for the coming of the Christ-child and the coming-again of the Christ-King.

That getting ready has very little to do with stocking a pantry or putting up a tree or working out what time Christmas lunch should be if we want to attend a church service first.

It’s all about keeping the promises we make. To God. To ourselves. To others.

And it’s about praying in faith over and over and over again for the places of barrenness and brokenness in our lives and in the lives of those we love.

It’s about making time for “lost causes” – through time gained not listening to or spreading gossip maybe?

It’s about believing in miracles and being God’s good news to someone who needs a little hope, a little help.

It’s about thinking beyond Christmas to what it means to live in an everlasting covenant with the Maker, the Saviour, the Sustainer of our lives.

Today, do something to help yourself or another get ready for the gift of Christ’s coming.

Day Ten: No Leftovers

Psalm 27
Isaiah 4:2-6
Acts 11:1-18

One of the constant complaints in a household containing two teenage boys (the very ones who are responsible for the problem, I might add) is that there are no leftovers for their Nana’s magical smoosh-up lunches which generally consist of the remnants of Sunday’s roast with Monday’s mash potato and Tuesday’s green beans etc. fried up with a little extra onion and bacon and served on thick slices of white bread … DELICIOUS!

Today’s readings remind us of the wonderful news that with God there are no leftovers, no after thoughts, no left-outs; nothing gone to waste.

The survivors of the Exile, the small remnant left in Zion – those too old, too young, too small, too weak, too ugly, too poor, too uneducated – would be cleansed, called holy, and branch into something beautiful, something glorious: a living testimony to the power, protection and presence of God come rain or shine (Isaiah 4:2-6).

But the plans of the God who didn’t throw them out, who hadn’t abandoned them, went far beyond the boundaries of their expectations and narrow imaginations.

For God opened wide the door and took others in – into God’s shelter, into God’s love, into God’s family.

The problem with being made holy, however, is that we can often take it to the point of being “holier than thou,” or use it as a measure by which to judge or exclude even as we are celebrating and savouring our inclusion in God’s kingdom.

So Peter, one of the apostles, finds himself under attack by fellow Jewish believers for going into the house of uncircumcised men and eating with them: What do you think you’re doing rubbing shoulders with that crowd, eating what is prohibited and ruining our good name?(Acts 11:2-3, The Message).

It is only after he explains his vision of being commanded to eat unclean things and his personal witness of the Holy Spirit coming upon the “unclean” messengers with whom he ate that his brothers praise God for breaking through to other nations and opening them up to life (Acts 11:18).

The no-leftovers had no right to make others feel left out! And nor do we!!

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” Peter’s vision reminds us today (Acts 11:9).

Are there any specific people or groups of people that you think of as impure, or unclean, or excluded from God’s love and grace?

But Peter’s words apply to much more than groups of people that we might dislike or distance ourselves from or secretly hope not to be surprised by in heaven one day ….

If you are anything like me and like much of the modern Western world, you might feel a continual tension between two parts of your life: the part that belongs to God and might be considered “sacred,” and, well, everything else really.

At Christmas time, in particular, we can feel this push and pull between wanting to celebrate in an authentic and meaningful way the coming of the Christ child and the need to feed and please and shop for and entertain friends and family members so that they can fully experience the love and joy and peace that we’re often prattling on about.

Today, divide a page into two columns. Make a list on the one side of everything that draws you nearer to God; on the other, everything else that makes up the routines of your life.

Now draw a large circle that encompasses both lists and write “no leftovers – everything belongs.”

Spend some time wondering about the validity of that statement, the possibilities of a “whole” view of life, items which may not actually belong etc.

 

 

Day Nine: Expand Your Borders

Psalm 27
Isaiah 26:7-15
Acts 2:37-42

I love the opening verse to Psalm 27 from The Message:

Light, space, zest—
that’s God!
So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.

Light,
space,
zest …
… that’s what life with God is all about.

Would you use those three words to describe your sense of life as it is at the moment – especially with the holiday season so nearly upon us?

Or can you relate more to the image of vandal hordes riding down upon you; devouring your energy, your time, your money, your peace of mind?

Perhaps you are particularly conscious at the moment of the bullies and toughs putting pressure upon you in subtle and not so subtle ways to conform to their plans or desires or schedules at this busy time of year at the expense of your own heart’s longing.

Maybe the words “enemy” or “wicked” bring to mind a distinct face despite your best attempts to love your neighbour as yourself.

Quite possibly the Psalmist’s reference to parental abandonment might trigger feelings of loneliness or neglect quite contrary to the proclaimed love and peace of the Christmas period.

Light,
space,
zest,
a level road to walk on,
a smooth path at our feet …

… this may not look at all like the life that you are living but it is the life that God longs for for you:

a peaceful and whole life where we can linger unhurried in God’s presence and find certainty and security far from the noise of the world and the buzz of the traffic and the clamour of our “it’s-never-enough-you’re-never-enough” culture …

… where who God is and what God’s done are all we ever want; and the rest of it – well, the rest of it unfolds and falls into place as we seek to live with a deep and abiding sense of the sufficiency of God’s presence to see us through all things.

As the prophet Isaiah (in chapter 26:15) speaks of God’s glory in enlarging the nation, in expanding the borders of the land, he offers a prophetic vision not only of the love of God breaking through the geographical and cultural boundaries of the nation of Israel but of Christ coming in order that you and I might have life to its fullest ….

Light, space, zest,
a living that is larger than our current experience of life ….

And it all begins by replying to that whisper in our hearts, “seek God!” with the whole-hearted response, “I’m seeking him right now!” (Psalm 27:8).

Those in the early church deliberately allowed God to enlarge their life experience by devoting themselves to times of teaching, fellowship, meal-sharing and prayer (Acts 2:42).

They reveal an intentionality about seeking God from which we can learn if we truly long for a life full of light, of space, of zest.

Begin to think about moments in this season and the year ahead in which you can express your longing for God.

You may want to protect some space by putting into your year plan and diary times that you will intentionally seek God’s presence and linger in God’s light.

Day Eight: Open Up The Way

Psalm 85:1-2,8-13
Isaiah 40:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Mark 1:1-8

During the first week of Advent, our call to watch and wait for the coming of Christ found expression in our lament for God to turn us again:
~ from the busyness that dulls our aching need for a Saviour,
~ from the pain of the world that makes us wonder where God actually is at times,
~ from the hopelessness and despondency that comes from seeing the “wicked” prosper time and time again,
~ from our apathy and inactivity in the face of the immensity of the world’s problems,
~ from our fair-weather faith and half-hearted commitment to live in loving relationship with God,
~ from the rubble and ruin of our plans and ambitions,
~ and from those who exercise authority over us in destructive and debilitating ways.

Which “turning from” was of most significance to you?

Which will be the hardest to maintain?

The readings throughout this second week give us a glimpse of what we’re headed towards as we invite God to open up the way to the good fortune and forgiveness, love and faithfulness, peace and righteousness that are characteristic of God’s coming shalom community (Ps. 85).

Today, in particular, we immerse ourselves again in the familiar story of John the Baptist who came, as the prophet Isaiah had said, to prepare for God’s arrival (Isaiah 40:3-5, Mark 1:2-4).

The message he preached was simple: forgiveness was possible; the old could be washed away; and One was coming with such power and presence that all could be transformed from the inside out.

We claim both the hope and the truth of that message through the sacrament of Baptism: that outward symbol of our inward turning from our old way of life to a new way of kingdom-living.

As a Christian, I have no memory of my own baptism as I was a toddler at the time; and as a teenager and young adult, I struggled to understand how something I could not even recall was supposed to be so significant.

But as a mother who has placed her children into a minister’s outstretched arms and entrusted them into the care of Christ and his Church, the imagery of Isaiah has special significance:

“Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture”
(Isaiah 40:11, The Message).

This is the One of whom John the Baptist spoke with such reverence: a Gathering God – the Good Shepherd – who bundles us up in his arms and hugs us to his heart as he carries us and leads us to good pasture ….

On a large piece of paper express what the words “good pasture” may look like in your life – you may want to draw, paint, put together a collage, use words. Feel free to add to it over the course of the week.

***
Alternatively, you may want to remember your baptism. Ask a parent or family friend to share any memories they may have. Look through family documents for a picture or a certificate. If you have children, tell them the story of their baptism and why it’s significant. 

If you are not yet baptised, you may want to explore this further with your pastor and/or faith community.