When the rules always seem to go in someone else’s favor, when you feel pushed to the margins, when you can’t seem to find your way and people keep telling you, “You best move on,” I pray you hear the soft cries of the holy infant and remember he has gone to prepare a place for you… and there is always room.
Jesus arrived in the world, just as planned from the foundation of the world. His arrival defies both good old-fashioned logic and our twenty-first century imaginations. His humble birth made the Kingdom of God accessible to all, even (especially?) those our traditions and customs and comforts and preferences can find no room to accommodate.
I find myself on the other side of the worst six years of my life. I’m not exaggerating, and I hope you’ll take my word for it. In the middle of those six years, someone asked me how in the world I was surviving it all. We were standing next to my car… I remember that I leaned my left hip against the car and said to her, “The thing that surprises me is that I haven’t lost my faith.” It still surprises me.
After years of living in exile, Zechariah and the children of Israel longed to see the Temple of God rebuilt and returned to its original glory. They desired to see their dream fulfilled, but the going was slow, and discouragement was a close companion. We’ve known that same discouragement when some future thing seems out of reach, and maybe it is, for now.
Begin this day knowing Christ is for you, God is with you, and the Holy Spirit lives in you. Grow tall into the truth of what it means to be a child of the living God. And, with this truth bubbling over and spilling out on those you meet today, give others the gift of believing them into the fulfillment of their possibilities, too.
Many of us have been deeply wounded by others. Some bear burdens so great, we would be astounded to take in their full weight. God’s invitation to forgiveness is not a call to “just get over it.” The invitation to forgiveness is not a mandate to “forget about it and move on.”
Jesus taught that the Sabbath was given to us as a gift. As often as we observe Sabbath—whether once a week, a few times a day, or on the occasional three-day weekend—we say “yes” to God for the gift of rest.
I step through the doorway onto the deck, down the stairs, and out onto the driveway, which is concrete, gritty and warm—almost hot—beneath my feet. It is the thick of summer now, and our tomatoes hang heavy on the vine, laughing at our inability to accurately predict how many tomatoes one plant will bear… On lazy days like these, when no deadlines or meetings or other commitments call, I am most assuredly drawn outside—always barefoot, a dog or two sauntering or bouncing at my heels.
In the same way Timothy needed to be reminded that his gift was no less significant because of his youth, we often need to be reminded not to measure our gifts against the standards and expectations set for others. In a world that is stylized and filtered to the max (hello, social media!) and that rarely gives prizes for getting it done, it’s easy to miss out on the experience of simply doing something because it brings us joy and then letting our joy be praise to God.
I believe our bodies were made to move — whatever we can move, for as long as we can move it. I feel the sun beat down on my shoulders as I tug at the roots of an obstinate dandelion and I cannot help but thank God for shoulders that move, knees that bend, lungs that expand, and thumbs for grabbing and tugging. All of it comes from God: the sunshine, the dandelions, and the bodies we’ve been given as packaging for our soul. We live, move, and have our being in him alone. When my limbs ache after a weekend of shoveling or digging or reaching or bending, I thank God for the ache and its reminder to me of this gift of movement and presence of God in the midst of it all.