Saturday, December 17, 2011

Liturgy for the Fourth Sunday of Advent



Fourth Candle:
The Love and Angels Candle
(purple)

We Celebrate the growing brightness & We Celebrate that His coming is closer!

The angels were the first creatures to proclaim the coming…

They came to Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and to the shepherds…
to tell them that God was going to send a Savior so that we would know that He loves us!

Voice 1: The Fourth Candle of Advent is the Candle of Love.

Its light reminds us of the love that God had for us!

John 3:16
For God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son…

Voice 2: Jesus shows us God’s perfect love… He is God’s love in human form.

Voice 3: Love is patient… Love is kind and envies no one.Love is never boastful or conceited, rude or selfish. Love is not quick to take offense, it keeps no record of wrongs, it does not gloat over other people’s troubles but rejoices in the right, the
good, and the true. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its
faith…to its hope…Love never fails!

Voice 4: We light this candle today to remind us of
how God’s perfect love is found in Jesus.

~Light the Three Purple Candles,
And the One Rose Candle~

Prayer:
Loving God,
We thank You for your love!
Thank you for Jesus.
Help us to receive the Gift of Your son.
Help us to be worthy of that love
by loving others in Your name.
Amen.

Hymn:
Love Came Down at Christmas

~Extinguish Candles~

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent: Liturgy



Today is the Third Sunday of Advent

We Light the Third Candle:The Rose Candle(pink)

Today is also known as “White Gift Sunday.”

White Gift Sunday dates back to 1904 in Ohio. It was the idea of the wife of a Methodist minister and her two daughters. Borrowing from a Chinese tradition
in which the people gave their king gifts wrapped in plain white paper so that every gift would look the same, the women created this day, the third Sunday of advent, as a day when parishioners could bring gifts to the church for others in the community who were in need. As with the Chinese tradition, the white paper allows for the ability for each person to be able to give what they are able, anonymously so that people who can only give a little will not be embarrassed.

The White Gift shares in the spirit of Christ and the God of love at Christmas. God loved us and gave the gift of His Son to us to show that love. In turn, we give gifts of love to people in need, throught the year and as Christmastime.

White Gift Sunday celebrates the stewardship of God’s love and giving at the time of year when we remember the coming of the King of Kings.

Advent Liturgy~

Voice 1: The Third Candle of Advent is the Candle of Joy. It reminds us of the joy that Mary felt when the angel, Gabriel told her that a special child would be born to her- a child who would save and deliver the world.

Voice 2: God wants us all to experience Joy!The angel who announced to the shepherds that Jesus had been born told them: “Fear Not! I bring you Good Tidings of Great Joy for all people. Unto you is born this day…A Savior …The Messiah!”

Voice 3: We light this candle to remember that Jesus brings gifts to us…
Sight for the blind…
Dancing for the crippled…
Freedom for captives…
Beauty for ashes…
Laughter for mourning…
Peace for despair…

Voice 4: We light this candle today to remind us that He brings Joy to all who trust in Him.

~Light the Two Purple Candles,And the One Rose Candle~

Prayer:
Loving God,
We thank You for the joy that you bring us.
Help us prepare for this gift.
Bless our Christmas preparations.
Fill us with your joy.
Help us to know how to bring Your joy to others.
Amen.

Scripture Reading:
Isaiah 61

Hymn:
Joy to the World!

~Extinguish Candles~

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Second Sunday of Advent: An Easy to Do-at-Home Liturgy




Today, We Light the Second Candle:
It is "The Peace of Bethlehem Candle," and it is also purple.

It Symbolizes Peace

Prayer:

Loving God,
We Desperately need the Peace that you have promised.
We know that such peace is only found in Jesus.
Thank you for giving us Jesus.
Thank you for the peace you give us through Him.
Help us to prepare our hearts to receive Him.
Bless our hearts, soften our hearts,
Humble our lowly hearts as we receive your peace.
Amen.

~Light the Two Purple Candles~

Voice 1: The Second Candle of Advent is the “Candle of Peace”. It is sometimes called the “Bethlehem Candle” to remind us of the place and the preparations that were made to receive and cradle the Christ-child.

Voice 2: The Angels proclaimed: “Peace on Earth!” and announced God’s that God’s intention is to bestow peace upon us through the gift of His Son. Peace is a gift, and we must actively receive it. God gives us the gift of peace when we turn to Him in faith.

Voice 3: The prophet Isaiah calls Christ the “Prince of Peace.” Through John the Baptist and the other prophets, God asks us to prepare our hearts for the Christ-child’s coming. We are like Bethlehem… We decide whether out hearts will be like the Inn- no room…or like the lowly manger- humbly willing to house the King of Kings.

Voice 4: Our hope is in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ. Our peace is found in Him. We light this candle to remind us of the peace He brings us.

Prayer:

Loving God, thank you for the peace you give us in Jesus.
Thank you for preparing our hearts to receive Him.
As this Season of Advent continues, and throughout the year,
Continue to Bless and soften our hearts,that we might continue to Receive,
and then to Re-transmit Your Peace.
Help us to be Your Peace to a World that so desperately needs it.
We ask in the name of the One Born in Bethlehem…
Amen.

Hymn: Silent Night

~Extinguish Candles~

Monday, November 28, 2011

Liturgy for First Week of Advent 2011





First Candle: The Prophesy Candle (purple)~
Symbolizes hope and expectation.

We await all that the prophets promised would come to pass…

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs-
light, and green branches-
and we remember God’s promise to our world~

Christ, Our Light and Our Hope, will come.

Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

The people that walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
On those who lived in a land as dark as death,
A light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest.
Isaiah 9:1-2

Prayer:
Oh God~
Rejoicing, we remember the promise of your Son!
Shine your blessings upon us.
May Christ shine on us and brighten our way by guiding us in His truth.
Amen

Voice 1: Today we celebrate the first week of advent. We remember the hope we have in Jesus.

Voice 2: The prophets of Israel all spoke of the coming of The Christ…of how a Savior would be born…that He would be a King from the line of David. They spoke of how he would rule the world wisely and bless all nations.

Voice 3: As the followers of Jesus, we await His return. We light this candle to remember that as he came to us humbly in a manger at Bethlehem and gave light to the world, so He is coming again in power to deliver His people.

Voice 4: We light this candle to remind us to be alert and to watch for His return.

~Light the Candle~

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for coming!
As we wait for you…
as we celebrate this Holy Season-
Let us not lose our focus.
Help us to keep our eyes on You.
Help us to see You.
Amen

Hymn:
O Come, O Come- Emmanuel!

~Blow Out Candle~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is Advent? A Video Tutorial

An Unusual Thanksgiving Prayer





Heavenly Father, it is the time of year when thoughts of
Thanksgiving, lights, feasting and merriment come to the fore…
But also a time in which…on the edges of our minds,
We cannot totally forget that in this world there is also
Bitterness, darkness, hunger and sadness…
We know these things are not of your powerful Kingdom…
They are of our impotent, yet harmful fiefdoms…
And though they are only temporary,
They are devastating for those who must endure them…even for a time.
It is at this time that we pray this prayer:


Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name-
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
On earth…as it is in heaven…

Our Father, we stop now, mid-recitation…
And we recognize that we’ve been saying the words without paying attention


to how provocative they are…
Without fully understanding how terribly devastating


those words might be if we prayed them in truth.
Help us to remember that these words…when prayed in earnest…
Mean that we are willing to give up our own fiefdoms in favor of


Your Kingdom…


We ask that you pour your Spirit into our hearts,

so that we might be awake to the words of this prayer.
That we might be fully aware of their implications…
That we would ask of ourselves these important questions:


“What would suddenly happen

if Thy Kingdom DID come…on earth?


What would happen to the things that I stand for…

that I throw myself into and live for daily?


Would those things stand or fall

in the face of this beautiful and devastating prayer?

Help us to recognize that to pray these words…
To actually mean these powerful words…Is to pray the Lion out of His cage…
Heavenly Father, we pray in earnest for you to answer this question of our perplexed hearts…

What would happen if those of us who enjoy

abundance, privilege and of power…
What would happen if we sincerely prayed and lived this prayer:
“THY kingdom come, THY will be done…?”

And now Dear Father, we return to your prayer~

Give us…
Forgive us…
Don’t test us…
Deliver us…
For the Kingdom, Power and Glory are yours, and Yours alone…

You are omnipotent and without you,


we are completely impotent…


without you we are nothing…
For it is only Your name…Father…that makes this prayer bearable.
Because it is only in the role of a

helpless child we can even bear to approach your throne…
Knowing if we ask you for bread-

you will not disappoint us by giving us a stone,
Knowing that when we ask that your heavenly kingdom be unleashed on earth

that it will be… So very, very good…

in fact, it will be so pleasant and so full of splendor, that…
Our desire to maintain our shabby fiefdoms will be no more.
And so we pray…

those of us who sit in positions of earthly abundance and authority…
We pray in Spirit and in Truth…We come to you as small children…
And we ask You to make us the conduits of your Kingdom here on earth…



We pray: Thy Kingdom come…Thy will be done…



We pray the Lion out of His cage…AMEN!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Expecting the Unexpected



During the Advent season, we are in a state of expectation. We are waiting, longing, and looking forward to the arrival. But how that plays out over the period of a fortnight or so is as individual as it is intriguing.

The word “expecting” is an interesting one. It can be a verb: “I am expecting a package in the mail.” It can also used as a descriptor: “She is expecting.” (Similar to: “She is glowing.”)

When we link the idea of advent and expectation, what immediately comes to mind is how a pregnant Mary must have felt…what she thought…how she dreamed and planned…






We get a glimpse of that when we read her words in Luke 1:46-55~

46 And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."







It is clear from these words, exclaimed in response to the angel Gabriel’s declaration that she would bear the Messiah, that she fully expected the babe in her womb to very literally overthrow the Roman occupiers of Palestine. It is- I suspect- how any one of us would have reacted…what any one of us would have imagined. But as she watched the babe grow into a young man and a then a full-grown man, we can be sure that she developed a more knowledgeable and informed understanding of her son and a broader understanding of the full scope His mission to the entire world. We can see this process clearly developing in the next chapter of Luke, where we see Mary watching her twelve-year-old son ingeniously debate with the learned religious leaders in the temple. Observing his keen spiritual insight and maturity, she “kept all these things in her mind, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) It is quite clear that her understanding and expectations of Him were being transformed. Observing what she did in the temple, she could not help but realize that God was preparing Jesus for so much more than what she had originally imagined.

And so it is with us. When we begin our walk with him, we have certain expectations of what Jesus will do, and how he will “show up” in our lives. But as our relationship with Jesus develops with time and intimacy, our expectations of how He “shows up” in our lives begins to expand and transform. We move from mere expectations of salvation, protection, and prosperity (very ‘me-centered’ expectations, if we are honest with ourselves about it) to expectations that are more Christ-centered.

An important question to ask ourselves (not only during the Advent season, might I add) is this:






“Jesus is Coming: What Do We Expect?”






Perhaps by emulating Mary’s approach, we will find our answer. Perhaps it is in the pondering.





This Advent season- I want to learn to ponder better. I want to be more responsive to what God is actually doing, and less reactive to what I think He should be doing. The gift that I pray for this Christmas is that God will fill me with His Holy Imagination, so that I will be able to see him more each day, and therefore be able to know what it is that he wants me to do. That I will be able to Imagine Beyond the Ordinary…Expect the Unexpected. I thank Him ahead of time for doing this…and more- because he is able to do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.






And I pray the same for you-I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:18-19, The Message) Amen!

Copyright 2011. Tracy B. Dickerson©

Adventitious Thoughts...What is Advent?



You don't have to limit your understanding of Advent to a chocolate calendar, and you don't have to be 'put off' by traditions and practices that you didn't grow up learning. Whether you’re a novice or an ‘old hand’ at Celebrating Advent-Advent is for anyone who is interested in cultivating an awareness of the importance of developing a Spirituality of Waiting...Our relationship with God is hallmarked by phases of waiting- we waited for Jesus to come to Bethlehem...We wait for Him to come to us personally each day...And We wait for Him to return again to the Earth in Glory!

What is Advent?

It is the tradition of observing the four weeks preceding Christmas which was started by Christians in the Middle Ages.

The word “advent’ means…“Coming”…“Arrival”…

The Focus of the advent season is the Coming of the Christ-child…The Fulfillment of God’s promise….

The Spirit of Advent is that of …Expectation…Anticipation…Preparation…Longing…And Hope…

Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas which is nearest to November 30th

Advent ends on December 24th.

An Advent Wreath is usually a circular wreath that is made with evergreens and has five candles~ four around the wreath and one in the center. The circle of the wreath reminds of us God himself…His eternality…His unending mercy…He is the Alpha and the Omega…the beginning and the end…In Him is life everlasting…

The green of the wreath speaks of the hope we have in everlasting life… of renewal…of newness…His mercies are new every morning!

The candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through the birth of His Son.The four outer candles and the four weeks of advent represent the period of waiting between the prophets Malachi and the birth of Jesus.There are five candles…each lit on successive Sundays.There are three purple or blue candles which symbolize hope, royalty and penance.One pink or rose colored candle represents Joy…
The large white candle which is in the center is the Jesus candle- it represents Hope fulfilled…The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into our darkness.We are reminded that we have been called out of darkness into His Marvelous Light…

Prayer Before Advent: Father, today as we begin our time of preparation for the celebration of the birthday of Your Son, we ask that you prepare our hearts to receive Him. May the darkness…fear…shame…hopelessness…and sin that block us from truly knowing and worshipping You recede and the shadows fade away as His light shines in our lives…Amen.


The focus of the advent season is the Coming of the Christ-child…The fulfillment of God’s promise….

But…there is a double focus…

Past & Future…Christ has come…Though He is present in the world today through his Holy Spirit…Yet we wait for him to Come Again…

Even so, Lord Jesus~ Come!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Gospel in 55 Words or Less...More

The Note
Rebellion spoils perfection and leads to shame;
shame leads to capture.
A cost too high,
a yearning father pays the ransom
with his own son.
“Go and do likewise,” says the father
to his new children.
Bum Yong Kim, 2001 ©

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Gospel in 55 Words

What is “The Gospel” (Good News) that Jesus came and proclaimed?

How can you boil what you believe down to an all-inclusive, but concise statement?

As an assignment for a class I am taking, I was given the task of describing the Gospel in 55 words or less. guess what- it's not as easy as you might think. The cool thing, though is that it really made me take inventory and discern what what important to include and what was "fluff" and needed to be stripped away.

Here are some ideas I've culled from trusted theologians:

From John Dickson: “The gospel is the announcement that God has revealed his kingdom and opened it up to sinners through the birth, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will one day return to overthrow evil and consummate the kingdom for eternity.” (44 Words)

From Scot McKnight: “The gospel is the story of the work of the triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) to completely restore broken image-bearers (Gen. 1:26–27) in the context of the community of faith (Israel, Kingdom, and Church) through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Pentecostal Spirit, to union with God and communion with others for the good of the world.” (67 Words)
(http://www.christianvisionproject.com/2008/03/the_8_marks_of_a_robust_gospel.html)


Here are some of my submissions:

God’s on his throne. He cares. He’s involved. He loves us so much that he sent His son Jesus to initiate His plan of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration on earth. He wants us to be in community with Him and to participate in this new order. Here and now. Let’s take part in His Kingdom!




The Gospel that Jesus Initiated and Preached…

Wasn’t…
…Communication focused solely on proclamation of:
…Individual soul-salvation…
…Prevention of damnation…
…Narcissistic self-preservation.1
Was…
…Declaration: “The Kingdom of God’s here!”2
“God’s enthroned and putting the world aright!” 3
…Demonstration: In word and deed through redemption, reconciliation, remediation.4
…Restoration: Of Lost and Broken5
…Allocation: Of Abundance 6
…Invitation: To Participation with Triune-God in Creation’s Transformation.7

1. Luke 4:18-21
2. Mark 1:14-15
3. Romans 8:19-23
4. Matthew 4:23 & 9:35
5. Luke 15
6. John 10:10
7. John 14:12; Luke 10:9; John 20:21 Tracy Dickerson, 2011©

Hot Mess

The world was so fresh.
Then we made it a mess.
But God’s goal was redress.
So He slipped on flesh.
And Entered the mess.
He made all things fresh.
Using death just to bless.
Now His quest I address.
And I redress the mess.
I know in my heart,
That I’ve been blessed…to bless.

Tracy Dickerson, 2011©

How about you? Can you do one?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ is Risen from the Dead! Come Awake!

Broken for Me, Broken for You...

Hear the Bells Ringing, They're Singing!!!!



Christ is Risen From the Dead!!!


WE REMEMBER!

The Victor!!!!

He's bursting through the walls with laughter...
the gates of death are crumbling from the inside out!!!
It is finished...
He has done it....
Life conquers death...
Jesus Christ Has Won It!

You Can't Keep A Good Man Down!



(No, you can't...)

Christos anesti! Alithos anesti! Christus resurrexit!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!





There aren't enough words to describe our JOY today, but here's one way to try



HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN, INDEED!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lent Day 40: DARK




We can only imagine the abject terror that filled the hearts of

Jesus' followers on this day some 2000 years ago...

It was surely an unimaginable dark nightmare for them.


At times, God puts us through the

discipline of darkness

to teach us to heed Him.

Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and

we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him…

Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances,

or in your life with God?

When you are in the dark,

listen, and God will give you

a very precious message for someone

when you get in the light.


~Oswald Chambers,

My Utmost for His Highest, reading for February 14

Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 63:7

Lent Day 40: WAIT



Black Saturday- The Silence of the Tomb

Today is the day we call “Holy Saturday,” or more appropriately “Black Saturday.” Today, after the pain and suffering of Good Friday, everything, more than ever, is silent as we WAIT for God. On Black Saturday, the Lord Jesus lies dead in His tomb, a shroud over Him. Take a moment to think about that and what it means. His tomb is wrapped in stony silence- the silence of death. As he had predicted, his frightened disciples are scattered and in hiding.

If we take time to recall, we are reminded that silence is a method God uses to speak to us. Silence such as this is not at all lack of communication; it refers not so much to the absence of sound and activity, but to a deeper awareness of things. The essence of the silence of Holy Saturday provides us with an understanding of the deep, essentialness of God in our lives. For, when we taste even the slightest withdrawal of Him from our presence, it is then that we understand fully that it is only in Him that we live and move and breathe.

In Hebrew the word ‘Shema’ means ‘listen to this’ or ‘hear this.’ In fact, a more accurate translation of the word ‘Shema’implies that you listen or hear and then act upon it. The title comes from Deut 6:3 which says, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!”

In the quiet of Holy Saturday, God bids you to take action and listen for His voice...



.

Today, on Black Saturday, take some time in thinking about your life for a while. Perhaps recently, there is an area or aspect in your life where you are having difficulty finding God: it may be in prayer, a relationship, at work, at home, or some personal issues you may be facing. In other words, there may be an “empty tomb” in your life...

Maybe God is inviting you this Holy Week to "roll away the stone" and to look for Him in the very emptiness and silence of that place.





If this is what you are feeling, God may be inviting you to Embrace his silence, which is the Silence of the Empty tomb…the Silence of His Hidden Presence in your life.

In order to sense God’s presence in the ordinary and to recognize his action, even in our suffering and wounds, we need the silence of the empty tomb.





This Holy Saturday, may you find a sense of peace in the quiet anticipation of this day. May the commemoration of this day remind you that, like Jesus' tomb, even in the stillness and silence and in the areas of your life that seem dead and irredeemable, God is present and actively working out His plan of redemption and reconciliation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, LENT DAY 39: MOCK



On Good Friday, as Jesus was hanging upon the cross, the mockers milling around at the base of the cross yelled up at him, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe you.”

Where have we heard these words before? Who was speaking through those who mocked Jesus on Good Friday? The words of those who were mocking Jesus on Good Friday sound eerily similar to the words that Satan used in the desert ("If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down...").

No doubt, Satan and his banished band laughed at the the foot of the cross. Their glee can be heard, even now 2000+ years later through the voices of the people who they animated with their vitriole.

The mocking must have been unbearable to hear, both for Our Lord and for the small band of onlookers that were His friends and family. They did not have the advantage that we have- the advantage of hindsight.

Neither those who were spouting vitriole, nor Jesus' faithful handful, knew how the story was going to unfold...But Jesus knew...

Darkness enveloped the world that day. I do not believe we can fully grasp the despair that must have been felt...

Perhaps a Still Small Voice spoke to the hearts of those faithful onlookers in order to steel their faith and said:

It’s Friday- But Sunday’s Coming!

Perhaps they began to understand at a core level Jesus' teaching about the "Sign of Jonah"...We do not know for sure.

On this Good Friday, let us remember the mocking that Jesus bore...
Let it be a reminder to us when we are assaulted and mocked by our Enemy and his minions... although we may not know the outcome, Jesus knows...

Let us know, as truly as we can know any truth...
Even on Our Darkest Day- We Know The Light!

Here is a Campolo Classic for you today…






Lift Up Your Heads, Rejoice!




May Your Day Be Filled With The AWE of It All!

For God DID NOT send His Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but that the world, through Him,
might be saved.
~John 3:17

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lent Day 38: LOVE


Maundy Thursday

Blessed Maundy Thursday! The word "maundy" comes from Middle English and French and means "command". And so today, on the day where Jesus had his Last Supper and commanded his followers to always remember him, may we reflect on the idea that he bore the darkness of the cross so that we could step out into the light and be the adopted Children of Light.

Let us use this day to reflect on the words of the Apostle John:

John 13:34-35 (Contemporary English Version)
But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

In these verses he expounded upon Jesus’ command, and described what it means to be His disciples.

May you love as you are loved...
may others know you are a disciple by your love...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lent, Day 37, Holy Wednesday: PRAY

Holy Wednesday



On this Wednesday of Holy Week, May you take some quiet time to contemplate THE PRICE that was paid for YOU, and the PRAYERS that were made for you...because you are PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT! Thank you Jesus!



As we remember the time Christ spent in Gethsemane, we remember to carve out time to “have prayer” with God. When we stop talking at God…when we sit in the silence and are willing to listen and wait…we WILL hear His voice.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

To the One who rode in on a donkey rather than a war horse- We pledge allegiance! ~Shane Claiborne



DID YOU KNOW: The Palm Sunday story is in all four gospels, yet Jesus' birth narrative is in only two?

Be blessed on this VERY important day!

May you each feel the deep solemnity and joy of this Holy Week.

HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!

...To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:21)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fourth Suday of Lent- Laetare Sunday: Midpoint of Lent



Today is "Rose Sunday" also called Laetare Sunday, or Refreshment Sunday because, on this Fourth Sunday during Lent we are half way through Lent and take the time today to lighten up a little. Laetare means "REJOICE!" We take a break from focusing on the penitence and austerity of Lent on THIS DAY to focus on JOY DESPITE DIFFICULTY!

You can read more about the significance of this day in the Liturgical Calender here

Today's Scripture Passage:

Isaiah 54 (The Message)

Spread Out! Think Big!



1-6 "Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.
Fill the air with song, you who've never experienced childbirth!
You're ending up with far more children
than all those childbearing women." God says so!
"Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.
You're going to need lots of elbow room
for your growing family.
You're going to take over whole nations;
you're going to resettle abandoned cities.
Don't be afraid—you're not going to be embarrassed.
Don't hold back—you're not going to come up short.
You'll forget all about the humiliations of your youth,
and the indignities of being a widow will fade from memory.
For your Maker is your bridegroom,
his name, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
Your Redeemer is The Holy of Israel,
known as God of the whole earth.
You were like an abandoned wife, devastated with grief,
and God welcomed you back,
Like a woman married young
and then left," says your God.

7-8Your Redeemer God says:
"I left you, but only for a moment.
Now, with enormous compassion, I'm bringing you back.
In an outburst of anger I turned my back on you—
but only for a moment.
It's with lasting love
that I'm tenderly caring for you.

9-10"This exile is just like the days of Noah for me:
I promised then that the waters of Noah
would never again flood the earth.
I'm promising now no more anger,
no more dressing you down.
For even if the mountains walk away
and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won't walk away from you,
my covenant commitment of peace won't fall apart."
The God who has compassion on you says so.


11-17"Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied:
I'm about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
Lay your foundations with sapphires,
construct your towers with rubies,
Your gates with jewels,
and all your walls with precious stones.
All your children will have God for their teacher—
what a mentor for your children!
You'll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
far from any trouble—nothing to fear!
far from terror—it won't even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
don't for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
nothing will come of it.
I create the blacksmith
who fires up his forge
and makes a weapon designed to kill.
I also create the destroyer—
but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged.
Any accuser who takes you to court
will be dismissed as a liar.
This is what God's servants can expect.
I'll see to it that everything works out for the best."
God's Decree.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Sunday of Lent: REST

Second Sunday of Lent:



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent, and it is not a day included in the “40 Count”. Every Sunday, we will pause to REST and REFLECT on what we have learned over the past week (in this case, four days). Today, we will continue to reflect upon the Primo Credo, (a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system.)

We have been meditating on it now for ten days and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

We will take a “break” every Sunday through the Lenten period in order to REST. We will recite the SHEMA today and we will also spend time memorizing the passage below, which is a passage that we will be using in our continued discussion of the Shema.

Today’s Scripture Passages:

Psalm 16:8-9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

8 I keep the LORD in mind always.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad,
and my spirit rejoices;
my body also rests securely.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent Day 9: TEST



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:
Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Ninth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system.

We have been meditating on it now for eightdays (today is day nin) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

Today’s Scripture Passages: Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 4:1-13 and Luke 4:1-13 (pay close attention to the footnotes of Matthew and Luke)

Lent is a time of introspection and penitence during the forty days before Resurrection Sunday. During this Holy Season, we take the time to not only look inward, but to look outward and focus on God’s ongoing reconciliatory work in the world.

The forty days of Lent are symbolic of the forty days that Christ spent in the desert, fasting and praying and being tempted by Satan. The forty day period that Christ spent in the desert is also significant, in that it represents the forty years that the Israelites wandered and were tested in the desert. In both of these ‘desert scenarios’ there were trials involving physical need/provision, concern for physical harm, and major moral dilemmas (especially with regard to who to worship).

During Lent, we take the time to contemplate that the trials commonly associated with “flesh-life" have been modeled and mastered by God Himself through Christ Jesus. It’s not only a beautiful thought, but a tremendous comfort to know that God’s Son did not come into the world as an official ambassador, with privileges, perks, and diplomatic immunity; but He came as a full-fledged citizen who was subject to the same physical limitations, needs, and vulnerabilities that we are. He leads us like a shepherd, and by example. We can truly say that we have a God who “gets” us!

Jesus is “Our Daily Bread,” but we, as humans, have the propensity to gnaw on the stale crust of “Our Daily Dread,” instead. Let me explain what I mean. We are aware that the Powers and Principalities of Man (our societies) are set up to promise the provision of physical needs (such as food), protection from harm, and preservation of moral values. We recognize that there are significant limitations to the protection that the Powers and Principalities of Man can offer us, yet we prefer the imperfect promise we know to the perfect Promise we don’t know…hence the dread. We are not sure where to put our trust, and so we straddle the fence between the World and God’s provision. The Israelites experienced this very dilemma after leaving Egypt, they had not been well cared for under Pharaoh’s care, yet when in the desert, they longed for the “discomforts of home.” Sound familiar?

In the Exodus wanderings, as the people transitioned their allegiances from Human principalities and powers to Yahweh, they underwent several tests: 1) the test to trust God for provision; 2) the test to turn to God in obedience, in the face of personal injury; and 3) the test to totally surrender to God, and worship Him alone. Sadly, they failed miserably each time. We don’t fare much better than they when we face the same dilemma.

As part of the atonement work created for Jesus to do, three scenarios occurred that re-created the Israelites’ desert trials: Jesus was tempted to trust God for provision; Jesus was tempted to turn to God in obedience, despite fear of personal injury; and Jesus was tested with regard to total surrender- would He worship god, or choose to be worshipped? Yet Jesus succeeded triumphantly!

What was the difference? What was Jesus’ secret? Well, we could (and often do…I know this is how my though pattern invariably goes…) just blow off the significance of Jesus’ desert experience by thinking, “Well, he was god, so it was easy for him to do those things.” But we forget, thereby diminishing his efforts, that Jesus was 100% man and that His suffering in the desert was just as difficult for Him as it would be for you or me. If it wasn’t- then the event wouldn’t really matter. But it does matter.

So, as a 100% human (capable of failure) - how did Jesus bar Joseph resist the devil’s wiles? We need to find out, because the answer will be immeasurable valuable to us. Part of the answer is in The Shema and the scriptures surrounding it.

On Day 7 we discussed meditation on scripture has the capacity to create a fused connection to The Word of God. When we meditate on scripture, we become wiser and gain insight, and even have the ability to have victory over those things which oppose us (enemies, and the like). (See Psalm 119: 97-99) Jesus knew this and did it. We’ve already discussed that, as a faithful and devout Jew, Jesus recited the Shema at a minimum of twice a day. But we know that Jesus didn’t hollowly recite or merely pay lip-service to the Shema. We know that he actually did what the Shema commands- he meditated on it, and thereby “bound” the scriptures to himself. This is how we know…

The sixth chapter of Deuteronomy is without dispute one of the most important passages of scripture for the Jewish people. From it comes The Great Shema. In the fourth chapters of both Matthew and Luke, we see Jesus quoting from this particular passage of scripture as He stood against Satan’s temptations in the desert. As Satan attempted to undermine Jesus’ response to God’s call on his life, Jesus rebutted Satan’s taunts by twice quoting from this passage. At one point, Jesus then quotes the context of two verses from Deuteronomy, 6:13 and 10:20, “…for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Jesus’ response reflects the command Deuteronomy 6:4-5, called by the Jews, the Shema: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Later, as we have already discussed, when Jesus was tested by a Pharisee and asked which the greatest commandment was He quoted the Shema. (Mark 12:29) The text of Deuteronomy 6 is clearly on that Jesus held close to his heart- Jesus did not merely quote the Shema; He used it in context and applied it, even to the point of using to rebuke a direct temptation. We should emulate Our Lord and do likewise.

Often, in our lives, we find ourselves in our own unique “desert” of trial, temptation, and/or tribulation. We should expect that life will bring to us times like this. We are only able to respond appropriately to difficult times in our lives in a God-honoring way if we first “prep” ourselves by rehearsing our responses and memorizing scripture. (In theological terms, this is called: “girding your loins.”)

This is one of the purposes for doing what we do at Lent. During Lent we re-create/synthesize a “desert” experience by causing ourselves to address the pertinent issues of trust, obedience, and surrender though prayer, fasting, scripture memorization, and other forms of spiritual discipline. These disciplines train us how to react during adversity and remind us what it feels like to experience adversity. (It’s “Adversity Training” if you will!)

We re-create the “test” only to remind ourselves what it must have felt like to take it. For most of use are ‘kinetic’ and ‘experiential’ learners and we better understand when we “do’ versus when we ‘hear” a lesson. Just as Christ entered into our suffering world to understand and save us, so too, we enter into His suffering in order to more deeply understand His salvation of the world.

This Ninth Day of Lent, may you persevere under trial and pass the test. May you remember that Satan may test us, but God “gets” us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lent Day 7: BIND




Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Sixth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system.

We have been meditating on it now for five days (today is day six) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

Last year at this time,I meditated on it quietly for most of the day while away with my husband for a weekend get-away. During a two hour drive home, I closed my eyes (don’t worry, my hubby was driving) and let the words of the first line move through my spirit. My husband commented that I was sleeping. “No,” I replied, “You didn’t hear me snoring, did you?” He laughed and concurred. I really was awake that whole time with my eyes closed, fully focused on that passage.

As I meditated upon it that day,I let the words “read" me, several things came to the fore that I really needed to know and process.

I do not always have that level of success when attempting to stay focused while practicing Christian meditation.(If you want to understand Christian meditation and how it differs from other forms of meditation, I suggest you refer to the following link: http://www.allaboutspirituality.org/christian-meditation-faq.htm)

I’m very glad that I’ve kept up with learning the practice and have not allowed either my oft unsuccessful attempts or the misinformed concerns of others to discourage me.

Meditation on scripture has the capacity to create a fused connection to The Word of God. When we meditate on scripture, we become wiser and gain insight, and even have the ability to have victory over those things which oppose us (enemies, and the like). (See Psalm 119: 97-99)

That “fused connection” can also be called “binding.”

Today’s Verse is:

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (New International Version)

We are called to BIND the word to ourselves. Now clearly, although it is a huge practice to wear tefellin or phylacteries (which are ornaments that have a tiny copy of the Shema written on parchment rolled up inside that are worn on the arm or forehead by devout Jews, even today), it is probably more likely that this command is made metaphorically. For example, another passage of scripture makes the command to “circumcise your hearts” but clearly if we did that we would not survive. Likewise, the command to “bind” is not necessarily meant to be taken literally, although I must admit the idea of wearing a piece of jewelry with scripture written on it is rather intriguing…

So, what does this command to bind all about, then?

Interestingly, the Hebrew translation of today’s verse says: “Speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise. Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes.”

I think there is a clue, here in the phrase “between your eyes”…

What I’ve got between my eyes is my grey matter.

“Binding” has more to do with creating a permanent connectedness mentally to God thorugh meditation than it does with adorning ourselves with fancy holy jewelry.

Creating a permanent connectedness to The Word of God…Now that is truly a “pearl of great price”!

On this Sixth Day of Lent, may you bind God’s Word to your heart in such a way that your connectedness to Him is enhanced.Remember: whatever you bind on earth will also be bound in heaven. Amen

BIND I MYSELF

I bind unto myself this day
the strong power of the Trinity.
The Three in One, the One in Three,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Bound to Your Word I Ever Shall Be.

Bound to the Father,
Bound to the Son,
Bound to the Spirit,
Bound to the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
In My Work By Light of Day...
On the path By Dark of Night...
Enlighten My Heart,
Quicken My Soul,
Strengthen My Mind,
That I Might Win the Fight.
©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2010

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent, Day 6: LORD



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Sixth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system. In fact, He said it was so important that “all the law hangs on it.”

And so, since Jesus is the “fulfillment of the law,” then we are going to spend some time understanding these few short lines in the hope that we will know The Truth more intimately.

We have been meditating on it now for five days (today is the sixth day) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

I have mentioned this from day one, and it bears repeating… As we recite the Primo Credo, we must keep in mind that the mere recitation of any set of words cannot gain us a single inch of territory in The Kingdom of God. We do believe, though, that focusing on the Word of God intentionally, with great thought and care, rather than practicing hollow repetition, places us in a position of surrender to the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus. Our goal is to let The Word dwell in us- informing our thoughts, feelings and actions; work in us, forming us spiritually to be more like Him; and working through us, to transform the world. Our goal is for us to learn together new ways of following Jesus and to discover the difference that following Him makes, not only within us...but to a world in desperate need of Him.


Today’s Verse~

Colossians 1:15-2015
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

and...

The SHEMA in Hebrew:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Shema Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad

Hear, Israel Yahweh our God Yahweh is One.

Yesterday, we discussed that YHWH is the third and fifth word of the Primo Credo. You can read it above. (Remember Hebrew is read from right to left.) The four letters (י-ה-ו-ה) are called the ‘Tetragammaton’ and are usually transliterated from Hebrew as IHVH in Latin, and YHWH in English. This is where we derive the name ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah.’ The Hebrew scripture limits the writing of the name of God to these four letters out of respect for the name of God, and as an act of literal obedience to the third commandment: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)


We learned that Rabbinic Judaism teaches that because the Tetragammaton, the (י-ה-ו-ה/YHWH), is the ineffable name of God, it should never be read aloud. Hence, in the Shema, it is traditionally replaced with the word “Adonai” ("Lord").

For this reason, the Shema is recited aloud as:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
Hear, Israel The LORD our God The LORD is One.

So yesterday we focused on the word “YHWH” and how it is an ancient name that has been spoken, revered for generations… It is not a word we use in daily conversation, and therefore may have little rue meaning in our hearts and minds.

So, today, we will be discussing the word “LORD” and what images and meanings it conjures up in our 21st century hearts and minds.

We talked yesterday about how the name YHWH denotes a “singularly all-powerful deity.” Additionally, we used the word “preeminence” as we discussed the power of the name of YHWH. In fact, we talked a lot about the “oneness of God” and tossed around some really wordy, weighty, witty and theological concepts.

But seriously…

What does “The Lord” really mean to us as individuals?
What does it mean to our daily activities of living?

Here are a few of my 'not so esoteric’ thoughts on this:
A Lord is One to whom we pledge allegiance.
A Lord is One for whom I act, live and breathe.
A Lord is One whom I serve, for whom I get up in the morning.

For some people their Lord is…
money…power…fame…success…accolades…their children…a ministry…an altruistic cause…drugs…partying…career...addiction…cigarettes…booze…heroin…busy-ness…
…or a whole host of other things (good or bad) that “run” their lives.

Your Lord is what makes your engine run.
Your Lord has the power to crush or to cherish you.
Depending on what or who your “Lord” is, you will be either its slave- slavishly giving it its due as it saps you of your very life…or you will be its beloved servant and you will flourish.

Only one LORD truly has the power to do the latter. His name is JESUS CHRIST.(see today's Bible verse above)

So today, I have two simple questions…

What did you get up for this morning?
What makes your heart sing?

How you answer those two simple questions will most likely give you fairly good insight into what or who your Lord is…to whom you have granted preeminence in your life.

Next Question: How powerful is the name of that Lord? (note- I didn’t ask you how powerful the hold that that Lord has over you at the present time- I simply want you to ask the very powerful question, “How powerful is the NAME of that Lord over me?”)

Next Question: Is it more powerful that the name of THE LORD (YHWH) in terms of giving you the peace, abundance, grace, contentment, and authority over your life?

Fact: It makes little sense to allow Lordship of your life to anything that is unworthy, and ultimately incapable of transforming you in positive ways.

Enjoy this video as you contemplate the Power of His name…




Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent, Day 5: YHWH



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Fifth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system. In fact, He said it was so important that “all the law hangs on it.”

And so, since Jesus is the “fulfillment of the law,” then we are going to spend some time understanding these few short lines in the hope that we will know The Truth more intimately.

We have been meditating on it now for four days (today is the fifth day) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

I have mentioned this from day one, and it bears repeating… As we recite the Primo Credo, we must keep in mind that the mere recitation of any set of words cannot gain us a single inch of territory in The Kingdom of God. We do believe, though, that focusing on the Word of God intentionally, with great thought and care, rather than practicing hollow repetition, places us in a position of surrender to the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus. Our goal is to let The Word dwell in us- informing our thoughts, feelings and actions; work in us, forming us spiritually to be more like Him; and working through us, to transform the world. Our goal is for us to learn together new ways of following Jesus and to discover the difference that following Him makes, not only within us...but to a world in desperate need of Him.



Today’s Verse~

THE LORD gives, THE LORD takes.
The LORD’S name be ever blessed.
Job 1:21b

The SHEMA in Hebrew:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Shema Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad

Hear, Israel Yahweh our God Yahweh is One.

YHWH is the third and fifth word of the Primo Credo. You can read it above. (Remember Hebrew is read from right to left.) The four letters (י-ה-ו-ה) are called the ‘Tetragammaton’ and are usually transliterated from Hebrew as IHVH in Latin, and YHWH in English. This is where we derive the name ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah.’ The Hebrew scripture limits the writing of the name of God to these four letters out of respect for the name of God, and as an act of literal obedience to the third commandment: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Rabbinic Judaism teaches that because the Tetragammaton, the (י-ה-ו-ה/YHWH), is the ineffable name of God, it should never be read aloud. Hence, in the Shema, it is traditionally replaced with the word “Adonai” ("Lord").

For this reason, the Shema is recited aloud as:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
Hear, Israel The LORD our God The LORD is One.

But we are talking about the name of YHWH and how it is a name that is to be blessed above all names. One way in which the name itself is blessed is that it denotes a singularly all-powerful deity. Additionally, we “bless His holy name” out of deep and profound gratitude for His preeminence.

This preeminence is highlighted in the primary theme of the first verse; the Oneness of God.

The Lord is One…what does this really mean?

On the face of it, it appears to be a command to recognize that there on not multiple gods, each in charge of one or two small things, but rather ONE God who is in charge of everything. It certainly does draw our attention to the preeminence of YHWH…and that is a good start.

‘Oneness’ is central to Jewish belief. This oneness extends to all that God is and all that He does. The Shema declares that God is one, but also that all events are from Him and that all that happens (both what we call ‘good’ and ‘bad’) is part of ONE grand eternal plan that is from God and therefore, by definition is good and blessed.

Another interesting fact about the Shema is that the letters "Ayin" and "Daled" of the first verse are enlarged in a kind of a ‘code’ spell out the Hebrew word Aid, which means ‘witness.’ This was done by ancient scribes to denote that when we say the Shema, we are testifying to the Oneness of God.

This concept is clearly expressed when Job makes his declaration in the passage above…God gives and He takes- two things that are seemingly opposite, but both stem from the oneness of God and therefore, must be good.

To believe this takes immeasurable trust.

Understanding God in these terms can change the very way in which we view life. We can much more clearly understand what Paul wrote when he wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) As a righteous Jew, we can safely assume that he recited Shema at least twice a day and from the content of his writing, it is also clear that the truth in those words had penetrated his deepest parts. Paul understood that the goodness of YHWH, the God who is One, has many facets, and that all of these facets emanate from God’s oneness. Further in the same passage, Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Notice how Paul uses these opposites for a purpose. He is showing us here that God is One: Preeminent over all that is. Paul is not afraid of being separated from God by any of the ‘things’ listed because Paul knows that God created them all and has control over them all, and that at the End of Time, all will be reconciled.
Paul’s writing expresses bold confidence in the sovereignty of God and in the preeminence of His reconciliatory power.

We share in this confidence, for we know that, at the End of Time, we too will come to understood how even the "bad" was actually for the "good."

So too, while saying the Primo Credo, we intentionally strive for this same level of belief and understanding.

Watch the video below and listen to the lyrics of the song:




So, this Fifth Day of Lent, continue to let God do His Good Work in you, as He forms and transforms your trust in His goodness and your faith in His sovereignty.



BLESS WE YOUR NAME

Bless We the Father,
Bless We Son,
Bless We The Spirit,
Bless We the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
We Bless You in the Light of Day...
We Bless You in the Dark of Night...
We Entrust Our Hearts,
We Entrust Our Souls,
We Entrust Our Minds,
That You Would Renew Our Might.
©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2010

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Sunday of Lent: REST



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, and it is not a day included in the “40 Count”. Every Sunday, we will pause to REST and REFLECT on what we have learned over the past week (in this case, four days). Today, we will continue to reflect upon the Primo Credo, (a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system. )

We have been meditating on it now for four days and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

We will take a “break” every Sunday through the Lenten period in order to REST. We will recite the SHEMA today and we will also spend time memorizing the passage below, which is a passage that we will be using in our continued discussion of the Shema.

Today’s Scripture Passages:

Psalm 16:8-9 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

8 I keep the LORD in mind always.
Because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad,
and my spirit rejoices;
my body also rests securely.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent, Day 4: BODY



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Fourth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, the part of the Scripture that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system. In fact, He said it was so important that “all the law hangs on” it. Since Jesus is the “fulfillment of the law,” then it makes sense for us to pay close attention to this thing that He informed us was at the very foundation of Truth.

At the very beginning of our journey together, on day two, we discussed that we will be meditating on it over the period leading up to Resurrection (Easter) Sunday; and we talked about reciting it every morning and every evening.

Just a reminder here… we talked about the practice of ‘fasting’ and how this exercise is to promote in a a kind of ‘spiritual intentionality’ that will move us away from spiritual sloppiness and provide us with a more disciplined approach to learning about and knowing God. We remember that the mere recitation of any set of words cannot gain us a single inch of territory in God’s Kingdom.

We do believe, though, that focusing on the Word of God intentionally, with great thought and care, rather than practicing hollow repetition, places us in a position of surrender to the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus. Our goal is to let The Word work in us, and hopefully through us, and back out of us.As I mentioned in my earlier post, Lent is the period of forty days before Easter Our goal is that we use this time together to be formed and to grow into more spiritually mature people. Our goal is for us to learn together new ways of following Jesus and to discover the difference that following Him makes.


Today’s Verse~
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom,
and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

BODY is the second main word of the Primo Credo. Don’t see it? You’re not alone, but allow me some theological and literary latitude, here. I will explain…

You’ve probably already assessed that the second main word here is “Israel,” and you are absolutely correct. But lest we get confused thinking that “Israel” here really means a country or even a historical group of people- I’d like to suggest a different way of looking at it. “Israel” is a BODY of people that transcends time and place. It is the BODY of people who follow God obediently through the "desert" in order to be vessels declaring His great Good News, and vassals who serve and praise Him and serve and encourage others in His Kingdom. You and I are Israel if we follow Christ.

But because nomenclature often gets confusing, we will simplify things a little today and discuss the command of the Primo Credo in terms of BODY.

The command (credo/creed) was given to a group of people. It was intended to be recited individually, yet as a community- communally…corporately. It was therefore not intended to be mere words that penetrated individuals; it was intended to take a shape of its own (as the Word of God invariably does…). It was intended to shape the heart of a Nation.

The Apostle Peter reflects this in his writing to members of the Early Church Body when he writes:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people belonging to God,that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light… (1 Peter 2:9)

No doubt, Peter was quoting from the early Hebrew Scriptures, most likely from Exodus 19:6, where God declares to the Israelites, “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

If you are “In Christ,” you are part of the BODY of Christ and a citizen of a HOLY NATION…a priest, even!

So what does that mean? I think it means we are BLESSED to be included in the Nation of God's People- I means that's one great 'club' to be a member of, right? But that’s not the end of the story…

We’re not blessed as an end in itself- we’re blessed by God TO BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS. Look again above at the verse from 1 Peter. It says: “that you may declare the praises of Him.” Now look at how nicely that verse dovetails with Colossians 3:16. We are to declare, teach, admonish, sing God’s praises, worship and sing hymns to The One who has called us out of darkness.

A People who do that simply cannot be ignored. People that act like that RADIATE and SHINE! When we, as a body, become “bearers of the Light,” we can do nothing other than bless the world. And that is God’s plan and desire for us… that we allow Him to work through us to be conduits of salvation and reconciliation in this broken world.

Our identity is Israel, or The Body of Christ. In Isaiah 58, God told the Israelites that he was not pleased with their fast, that He was not impressed with their ability to discipline their bodies because He wanted a different kind of “fast” from them. He wanted them to be a corporate community, obedient to the stirrings of The Spirit, with a shared vision and a heart for justice and mercy in the world. He wanted the People of Israel (read: Body of Christ) to stop focusing on their individual “holier-than-thou-ness” and to start nurturing a communal “righteousness” that would end up Shining Brightly in the World in such a way that the world would be transformed by it.

Watch the video below and listen to the lyrics of the song:



So, to sum it all up: we “give up” and we “take up” during Lent solely to be formed into the likeness of Christ, so that we can glorify God by becoming His vessels and vassals to a broken world. But we cannot do it alone, we must do it as part of the Body of Christ.

So, this Fourth Day of Lent, continue to let God do His Good Work in you, as He forms and transforms you further into His likeness. P.S. : Shine!




SHINE WE THIS DAY
Obey We the Father,
Obey We Son,
Obey We the Spirit,
Obey We the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
Help us to Dispel Darkness...
Help us to Shine Your Light…
Bless Our Hearts,
Bless Our Souls,
Bless Our Minds,
That We Would Bless The World
With All Our Might.
©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2010

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lent, Day 3: HEAR



Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Third Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo. Yesterday we discussed that we will be meditating on it over the period leading up to Resurrection (Easter) Sunday; and we talked about reciting it every morning and every evening. Further, we stressed the importance of intentionality; thinking, feeling, and meaning the words as we repeat them- not just hollowly reciting them. Our goal is to let the words work in us, and hopefully through us, and back out of us.

So let’s start teasing apart the many layers to the “onion” that is the Primo Credo. (It’s a pearl onion, if I do say so…small and multi-layered.)

HEAR is the first word. And so, we take heed, for the God of all creation has called out to us through time and space with a command: “HEAR!”

Watch the video below:



God wants us to listen carefully to what he has to teach us in the Primo Credo. There is so much to be gleaned, that I am going to be hard pressed to cover it all in just forty days, but I will at least highlight the highpoints…

What is involved when you really need to hear something? Ever been on the phone in a crowed room? (Dumb question, huh?) Ever been on the phone and someone in the room where you were attempted to get your attention? Two things come to my mind: I need silence, and I need to remove myself from the distractions.

I need to do these two things so that I can hear, but also listen…

I cannot truly love someone (in the active sense of the word love) if I do not give them my time and my full attention.

God instructs us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). He who created us and who knows the workings of our neurological system intimately calls us to silence so that we may know Him. He wants us to set aside time for Him and only Him. He wants us to give him our undivided attention. We need to know Him just as much as we need to love Him.

“Be still and know that I am God!” He implores to us through the clamor.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well when he said: “Any study of Christ must begin in silence.”


When we quiet ourselves to contemplate God, we must first slow our pace and the sounds around us to a dull roar. We need things to be quiet enough that we can tune into God, become aware of who He is, and who we are in Him. We need to bask in His very essence, in those things that make Him who He Is.

God is…
Omnipotent (all powerful),
Omniscient (all knowing), and
Omnipresent (everywhere).


When we begin to truly know God and His unique traits, we truly begin to acknowledge the fact that we are not God.

We are not all powerful…

We are not all knowing…

We are limited by space and time.

These are “weaknesses” that we must embrace., and in embracing them, we realize that it is okay to be how we were designed to be…human.

Only in embracing this weakness can we put ourselves in a position of safe vulnerability- a position in which we claim our weakness and claim the strength of a Higher Power.

Doing this actually puts us in a very advantageous position-in the palm of His hand.

Slowing down, becoming tuned in allows us to rediscover these truths about God, and by default- ourselves.

It is good to choose a regular time every day to be quiet. As we shut out all the distractions and false voices that the world throws at us, we become more in tune with God and who we are in Him.

Take time now to BE STILL…

Repeat the SHEMA, slowly, deliberately, and intentionally. Let the words work their way deep within you.


Prayer:
LISTEN I THIS DAY

Listen I this day to the Father,
Listen I this day to the Son,
Listen I to the Holy Spirit,
Listen I to the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
In Silence Every Morning,
In Silence Every Night…
Listen I with my Heart,
Heed I with my Soul,
Attend I with my Mind;
Hear I with my Might.
©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2010