Turn Aside and Look: We Would See Him

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The sacred moments,
the moments of miracle,
are often the everyday moments,
the moments which,
if we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only…
a gardener,
a stranger coming down the road behind us,
a meal like any other meal.
But if we look with our hearts,
if we listen with all our being and imagination..
what we may see is Jesus himself.

~Frederick Buechner from The Magnificent Defeat

notyetdaff2

 

We can be blinded by the everyday-ness of it:
A simple loaf of bread is only that.
A gardener crouches in a row of weeds, trying to restore order in chaos.
A wanderer along the road engages in conversation.

Every day contains millions of everyday moments that are lost and forgotten, seemingly meaningless.

We would see Jesus if we only opened our eyes and listened with our ears.
At the table, on the road, in the garden.

By turning aside and looking, we discover:
there is nothing everyday about the miracle of Him abiding with us.

 

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Could’ve come like a mighty storm
with all the strength of a hurricane
You could’ve come like a forest fire
with the power of heaven in your flame
 
Chorus
But you came like a winter snow
quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night

to the earth below

Could’ve swept in like a tidal wave
or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
to wipe away the things we’ve scarred
 
Bridge
No, your voice wasn’t in a bush burning
No, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden
by Audrey Assad

Between Midnight and Dawn: A Different Way

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darkhedgesantique

frontyardviolet

 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24 — The Road to Emmaus

 

 

A hidden path that starts at a dead end,
Old ways, renewed by walking with a friend,
And crossing places taken hand in hand,

The passages where nothing need be said,
With bruised and scented sweetness underfoot
And unexpected birdsong overhead,

The sleeping life beneath a dark-mouthed burrow,
The rooted secrets rustling in a hedgerow,
The land’s long memory in ridge and furrow,

A track once beaten and now overgrown
With complex textures, every kind of green,
Land- and cloud-scape melting into one,

The rich meandering of streams at play,
A setting out to find oneself astray,
And coming home at dusk a different way.

~Malcolm Guite “Prayer/Walk”

dilly8

evening3316

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I can be self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking at the road ahead, enjoying the journey.

Emmaus helps me remember how He feeds me from His word, so I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.
He is the living water so I no longer thirst.
He is the light so I am never left in darkness.
He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.
He clothes me with righteousness so I am never naked.
He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.
He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

When I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to take a different way than I originally planned: to listen, to invite Him in to stay, to share whatever I have with Him. When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.

He is here, so close, so accessible, so much a part of humanity — as we walk, as we eat, as we drink, as we express gratitude — I feel His Spirit, recognizing He offered Himself as the sacrifice made on my behalf.

No other God would. No other God has. No other God is here, dwelling within us.

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During this Lenten season, I will be drawing inspiration from the new devotional collection edited by Sarah Arthur —Between Midnight and Dawn

God Among Us: Be Our Companion

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13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;
 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24: 13-15, 31-32

 

God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving towards the house of peace and joy.  This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey.  The God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us.

The challenge is to let God be who he wants to be.  A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain.  Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost.  Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone.

Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let him-whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend-be our companion.
— Henri Nouwen from Gracias: A Latin American Journal

 

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I am self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking forward at the road ahead, listening to the companion who has always walked beside me.

We were joined by this living breathing walking God on the road to Emmaus as He fed us from His word. I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.

He is the living water so I no longer thirst.

He is the light so I am never left in darkness.

He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.

He clothes me with righteousness so I am never naked.

He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.

He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

So when I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to recognize him, listen, invite Him in to stay, share whatever I have with Him.    When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself, the Companion we were blessed with Christmas morning.
~EPG

 

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God’s heaven, a star’s light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing
A star in the sky or a bird on the wing
Or all of God’s Angels in heaven to sing
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on’ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
~Appalachian Carol

upperfield

Lenten Grace — It is All Those Things

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Mary Oliver, from “Logos”

Many reject him because they weren’t there,
how can they know
what was real without seeing and hearing him
with their own eyes and ears.

We read his words
and think about
how his voice sounded
in a crowd
of 5000 people hungry
and how his eyes teared
as he was betrayed
and rejected
and nailed

We weren’t in the garden
that day when he was mistaken
for the gardener
nor were we on the road to Emmaus
walking beside a stranger whose words
made our hearts burn within us
but we can imagine hearing our name spoken
and knowing it is him
or watching him break the bread
and recognizing his body.

We weren’t there
but we didn’t have to be.

If we can imagine it
it is plain and real
a mystery of the heart

all those things
all those things
and so much more

Lenten Grace — Everyday Moments

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments, the moments which, if we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only…a gardener, a stranger coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other meal. But if we look with our hearts, if we listen with all our being and imagination.. what we may see is Jesus himself.
~Frederick Buechner

We can be blinded by the everyday-ness of it.  A simple loaf of bread is only that.  A gardener crouches in a row of weeds, trying to restore order in chaos.  A wanderer along the road engages in conversation.

Every day contains millions of everyday moments that are lost and forgotten, seemingly meaningless.

We would see Jesus if we only opened our eyes and listened with our ears.   At the table, on the road, in the garden.

There is nothing everyday about the miracle of Him abiding with us.

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

Lenten Reflection–No Fear

Rembrandt's Christ at Emmaus

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear
1 John 4:18

The community of faith and community of life in the first love was marked by the risen Christ–the Christ who had said, “I am with you always.” Everything depends on seeing the mystery of the risen Christ as unconditional love. In Christ, God’s love is put into practice.
Eberhard Arnold

Of course there was plenty to fear. There had been a brutal arrest in a garden, facilitated by one of His own. The rest ran or actively denied involvement. There was a hasty hearing, and a trial of sorts, and then beatings and condemnation by acclamation. There was the impossible task of lugging a heavy cross up hill, then being attached by nails, hung, dehydrated, denigrated, left to die.

Plenty, plenty to fear. Those who loved Him were terrified.

When they returned after the Sabbath to care for His body, still concerned for their own safety, they heard again very familiar words: “Do not be afraid.” He was conceived and born under those words, and after His death, those were among the first words they heard the risen Christ say, and He repeated them as often as they needed to hear them, which was often.

Do not be afraid.

Perfect love casts out fear. As we are so flawed, so incapable of perfect-anything, we fear, and fear desperately. But because He is capable of perfect unconditional love, He demonstrates that love tangibly and palpably: breaking bread, breaking Himself, pouring wine, pouring out Himself. He creates an everlasting community of love by promising to be with us always. So we put it into practice with each other, and especially with those who are strangers and enemies.

Why fear any longer? He is walking alongside us illuminating our minds and filling our hearts, He is at the table feeding us, He is holding us as we pass into His arms.

Perfect
mysterious
unending
unprecedented
unconditional
love has no fear
forever.

Easter Meditation: Our Hearts Burn Within Us

Christ on the Road to Emmaus Artist: Roghman Roelant Location: Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Luke 24: 30-32

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

This story of the risen Lord appearing to two despondent disciples later on the day of His resurrection tends to get overlooked in the excitement of the rolled back stone, the empty tomb with grave clothes left behind, and the angels announcing “He is not here, He is risen!”.   Yet at the end of a blessed and full Easter day today, and after 6 weeks of daily meditations in preparation for this day, it is the Road to Emmaus that I keep coming back to.  It reaches me because it makes my heart burn, not in a “too much acid” way, but in a “wishing I could more fully understand God’s plan for us”  way.  It helps open my eyes and see a living Jesus in the people around me.

Like so many, I tend to walk through life blinded to what is really important, essential and necessary.  I can be self-absorbed,  immersed in my own troubles and concerns, staring at my own feet as I walk each step, rather than looking at the road ahead and taking joy in the journey.

Emmaus helps me remember how He feeds me from His word, and I hunger for even more, my heart burning within me.   Jesus makes plain how He Himself addresses my most basic needs:

He is the bread of life so I am fed.

He is the living water so I no longer thirst.

He is the light so I am never left in darkness.

He shares my yoke so my burden is easier.

He clothes  me with righteousness so I am never naked.

He cleanses me when I am at my most soiled and repugnant.

He is the open door–always welcoming, with a room prepared for me.

So when I encounter Him along the road of my life,  I need to be ready to listen, ready to invite Him in to stay, ready to share whatever I have with Him.    When He breaks bread and hands me my piece, I want to accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.

Alleluia!