WITHOUT THIS WEEK

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Here we are, caught up in the emotions and convictions that come with a fresh encounter of The Passion Week, and I find myself continually contemplating just how drastically this week changed the course of history.

I read a post by Sarah Clarkson a while ago that quickly became something I clung to and think about often, and I would like to share it with you as we think about what the cross has conquered on our behalf.

So here it is: “We’re always afraid, and we have good reason to be. Whatever joy or love we find, we cradle with one eye cocked to the horizon for looming war, or gathering disease, or anger or hatred, or loss. To be cynical, locked tight in our expectation of disaster, muscled, and chill, is natural.

To be unafraid is… miraculous. It is to unravel all our expectations of the world. It is to be… perhaps, as we were meant to be. It is to be childlike.

I’ve been watching my little ones this week; Lilian twirling with her birthday umbrella and Lucie lifting her arms in absolute expectation that I’ll answer her every peep and Samuel’s adorable presumption on my good humour. These children. They’re unafraid because they’re rooted beyond questioning in their sense of being loved. Perfect love casts out fear. Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid. But Love has come. Truly. To share our pain and remake the world. That’s what the angel was announcing when he appeared to Mary.

‘Be not afraid.’
What else could he say?
What else can I say?


I find it hard to know what to post these days in the face of such vast suffering. But I have wrestled with theodicy for years and the thing I have come to believe as I do my own breath is that God invades our grief and makes it the place of His saving arrival, His radical remaking of the world. He unravels evil. He turns loss backwards. He calls the whole world, even the bombed and weeping world, to be healed.

I have known the remaking light of that love and so, precisely because it is evil that tempts us to fear, I’ll at least say this: Love is here. Even here. Even there. Don’t be afraid.”

-Sarah Clarkson

Did you catch what she said? “Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid.”

Our souls are in desperate need of harmony. Harmony with our Messiah. We are longing to dance with the only One who understands everything about us. The One who doesn’t simply play the note we long to dance to, but is the note itself. The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ is what makes this harmony possible.

This harmony not only takes away our fear, but it replaces that space in our hearts that was once filled with unavoidable fear with unexplainable hope.

Rejoice, dear Christian, because what looks like utter defeat was His most glorious triumph!

Without this Passion Week, Christianity would just be another religion. Without this week, we wouldn’t know what true love feels like and how it transforms every part of our lives when we let Jesus be everything to us.

Without this week, I wouldn’t be writing to you about hope, about beauty, and about the light breaking into our darkness. Yet here we are, because of what our Lord Jesus has done.

“Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange
Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found,
Come as you came this day, a man in anger
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through
Face down for me the fear the shame the danger
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.”
– Malcolm Guite, “Sounding the Seasons”

TRUE WORSHIPPERS (BLOGMAS DAY TEN)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

One of our dear friends, who is a pastor in Texas, always says, “We have a God-shaped hole in our hearts.” I thought of that saying today as I braved the crowds and long lines of the super-store in our town. There were so many folks filling up their carts and dodging each other in the aisles. There were two guys in the hair and make-up section trying to decide what to buy for (what sounded like) the many female family members in their lives. There was an older woman telling an acquaintance she ran into that she was so glad her grandkids were older, and she did not have to buy toys this year. Then, there were all of us lined up, in frustration, to check out at the two open registers. Ugh!

Some people I saw today were obviously happy to be buying gifts for loved ones, but most seemed to drudge through the task. I grieve over the realization that most of us have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. We are trying to fill that “God-shaped hole in our hearts” with gifts and gadgets. Material things that bring joy, only for a moment.

We have allowed our hearts to be captivated by the bright lights, shiny bobbles, and finely wrapped gifts of this world. Yet, what our hearts truly long for is the eternally satisfying glory of God. Jesus’ presence and rule in our lives.

We were created to worship. The need to worship is a big part of what it means to be human. That is the way God made us. He wanted us to want to worship Him and have a relationship with Him. The enemy has distorted that desire, however. Now, we humans worship our careers, sports, bank accounts, and hobbies.

St. Augustine said in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Friends, there is nothing wrong with gift giving. My family enjoys finding something special for one another each year. I just pray that we spend more time on cultivating our relationship with Christ this Christmas than we do on buying and wrapping material gifts. Let us be swept up in the true wonder of the season; the Lord came to dwell among us! May we feed our own souls with the right kind of worship and share the good news of Jesus birth, death, resurrection, and second coming with those around us.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”  (John 4:23)

Will the Father find you a true worshipper when He returns?

ALL THE WORLD AWAITS

All the world awaits

The promise of His birth

Open up the gates

Heaven come to earth

A host of angels sing

Our Savior here to dwell

The King of every king

Our Emmanuel