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In Isaiah 61:2-3, the prophet Isaiah envisions joy arising from the lament and speaks to us this Lenten season as we long for a better world to arise from the brokenness we see. The good news is that beauty springing forth from the ashes is the heart of the gospel, the good news that centers on the Easter reality we are looking forward to celebrating soon.
For many Christians around the world, the season of Lent begins with the service of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is really a worship service of lament. Jesus’s words in John 16 include this theme of lament as well. In verse 32, Jesus is telling his friends and partners in ministry that they will abandon him. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the Easter story is preceded by abandonment. The whole season of Lent is a reminder that Jesus experienced and understands abandonment and betrayal.
In yesterday’s devotion we acknowledged the possibility of dysfunctional mentoring relationships, like the one between Saul and David. Though Saul should have been empowering David, instead he acted like a jealous enemy who sought to undermine David instead of blessing him. There is a slang word for such a person: frenemy. This is the type of “friend” whose words or actions bring you down. (Whether you realize it as intentional or not). Frenemies make terrible mentors and can have lasting negative impact on leaders.
In its simplest form, mentoring is supposed to be a process when a mentor with more experience and knowledge helps a mentee with less experience and knowledge. But sometimes a mentoring relationship fails to meet this basic expectation and can become a scarring experience altogether, affecting your leadership for years to come.
As I was preparing a sermon recently, I was inspired by a blog by Daira Curran to remember the importance of mentoring (http://purposecity.com/insights/biblical-importance-mentor/). Here in this story of Elijah and Elisha, we get a picture of a unique relationship of mentor and mentee. If you are familiar with the story, you’ll remember that Elijah was a powerful prophet who was ultimately raptured — never tasting death! How could the mentee Elisha ever out-do that? Yet Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, which resulted in a fruitful ministry for Elisha that some would argue surpassed that of his mentor.
Advent is a time for us to find the courage to protect the vulnerable as Joseph did with Mary and Mary did with Jesus. Advent offers an invitation to all of us to individually and corporately protect the vulnerable.
In yesterday’s devotion I suggested that in our world of instant-gratification, we need a season like Advent to teach us how to wait. Advent is a season of longing for a Savior to touch our lives and heal our hurting world. Today, on this first Sunday of Advent, the prophet speaks of a longing for change — the desire for God to shape our lives amidst a world that often seems like it’s out to crush and derail us from following the One who came in the flesh to show us the way home.
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