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.

From Advent to Epiphany

For many, Christmas has – at best – a tenuous connection to the Christ child.

Some Christians refuse to celebrate the season because of the pagan practices that have influenced it and/or its historical inaccuracy. Others really struggle with how to keep the season centred around the coming of Immanuel in the midst of our frenetic, consumer-driver world in which the perfect present is more important than our simple presence.

Yet I am amazed each year at how, in spite of declining membership in most parts of the world, churches fill up on Christmas Day with people for whom hearing the remarkable story of God entering into our life in the vulnerable form of a baby boy is an essential part of their family tradition.

It’s a special time; a moving story about the unimaginable love that God has for the world finding expression in the the fragile relationship between a young virgin and a carpenter who are far away from the support and shelter of home in the days before a miracle is birthed – all under the threat of a jealous king who will do anything to solidify his power.

It’s a story best understood in the context of those dangerous times, and within the seasons of Advent and Epiphany in which we express our commitment as Christians to watch and to wait for the Coming King in the midst of our own struggles and difficulties.

When the mountains tremble is a contemplative journey through this season which seeks to open our eyes to the power and presence of God – not in spite of the trouble and the tumult all around us, but in the very midst of it.

Based on the daily readings from the Revised Common Lectionary which we often shy away from (who doesn’t prefer stories of bemused shepherds and worshipping angels to warnings of judgement and destruction?), each day offers the invitation to remember where we’ve come from, give voice to how we’re really feeling, wrestle with some of the deep questions we may not often ask, and wonder with God about where we’re headed.

Some weeks – the first in particular – are more cognitive; while others are more experiential. Some are structured around becoming still; others around getting moving in a particular way. Some of the meditations may feel incomplete and will be returned to in a new way a little further on in the journey, while those left open may be the beginning of a new journey of wonder for you entirely.

It would be helpful to keep a journal over this time; not so much to record the answer to every question you may encounter in the readings (which is not at all necessary), but to jot down a summary of each day’s experience or a particular line or verse that stood out for you, to write out a prayer response to God, to return to your own questions and wonderings as the old year makes way for the new.

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May the One for Whom we Wait
bring us rest and restoration
in what is so often a worn and wearying season
and open our eyes to the signs of His-Her Presence with us,
always and in all things.

Yours, in Christ,
Yvonne