Worship Moves

2015-05-01 10.00.53Webster defines adoration as paying honors to a divine being; worshiping God; or addressing one as God – demonstrated by external means. This is followed by a description of how people have expressed adoration and worship through the centuries and EVERY expression involved MOVEMENT! Bowing, prostration, turning, covering or uncovering, dancing, the bringing of gifts. Ways we have shown “profound reverence” to gods, kings, queens and others.

2015-08-30 11.38.49This really struck me because I’m such a mover and children are movers by nature 🙂 That our worship is not meant to be passive and stagnant. It is not just a though process of focusing our minds on God, it is meant to be that which causes us to physically respond to our reverence to God, like Miriam, David and so many more. I don’t think I’ll ever worship God again just sitting and singing words, there is so much more to give to really honor Him as the King of the Universe!!!

2015-05-01 09.45.14

Advertisements

A Sunday Home

Combined forces of the physical and the divine intervened today and kept us home for church this Sunday.  God has truly been challenging our perceptions and expectations of fellowship since our move to the East Coast and it is both rejuvenating and exciting. But theology aside, we succeeded in Church. In BEing together the kingdom of God.  We worshiped with some dance and some reading, Nathanael and I both taking turns in helping the children to learn and focus on WHAT we were doing so we could later teach them the WHY. 🙂  Samuel decided he wanted to read his Bible for most of the worship time and Gloria followed suit for a few minutes before going back to the rotation between guitar, scarf and piano.

2015-08-30 11.41.55 2015-08-30 11.38.34Isn’t that the face of pure joy and delight?

Inspired by my study and writing from the Word this morning we taught Samuel about the Kingdom of God.  The kingdom is in our midst and is in us (Luke 17:20-21) and therefore we should seek to listen to God and to obey him.  With Samuel, trains and train metaphors make their way into just about everything, and specifically the Polar Express. So in true Samuel fashion we explained the idea of following the Way of God with a train!  God is the conductor and he is the one who asks for our tickets and tells us which way to go. When the train gets off the tracks he tells us how to get back on (see The Polar Express) and we should listen to him. Listening includes obedience. That is the Way.

Prayer. Prayer interrupted by crying baby girl.  Back to prayer and our scripture verse “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.”

AMEN!

Then it was time for lunch and naps. Nap time is when Nathan and I then pick up worship again for the two of us.  It was my turn to lead the worship this morning which took the form of a sermon based upon that bible verse, “I am the WAY” (see previous blog post).  We rejoiced in God through the truth of his Word and then praised him more from the psalms, specifically 33 and the first part of 34!  Please go read them, they are wonderful songs.  A verse in Psalm 34 sparked a discussion on worship and adoration that has continued for most of the afternoon and will most definitely continue in my heart for several days.  I’m sure I will write more about it.

“Where two or more are gathered I am there in their midst.”  We did not have hundreds today or even dozens, but we had the four of us and a true time of adoration of God together.  I would leave with a few questions which God has raised in us this week. What is adoration? What IS worship? Is it conscious? Is it just a thought process or is it something more?

I’m off to worship God with a little creation 😀 Shalom!

I am the WAY – thoughts for a Sunday morning

“I am the WAY the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me,” says a Jewish man known for his faithfulness to his heritage.  So, did Jesus come to create a new religion? Or was he sent to create a new Way within and expanding out from the religion of his ancestors? Did Jesus focus on religious principles and creeds or did he teach people about to live daily life, about right relationships and holiness in the most practical of ways? What IS the way to which he called us?

The closest we can come to a doctrine within Jesus’s teachings can be summed up in two verses, “Love the Lord your God…” where He quotes from Deuteronomy, and “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” which was the mantel of John the Baptist that scripture tells us was taken up by Christ. Even these statements can not be compared to abstract doctrinal truths of religious import, they are so much more. Derived from centuries of instruction by God to the Jewish people these truths are the powerful fulfillment of the gospel rather than a contradiction to the Jewish faith. Jesus himself says “I did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.” We can know beyond a doubt, through language and historical reference that the Law he speaks of is the summation of those centuries of Divine revelation, and thereby we can trust in the Truth of this man who claimed to bring Truth.

“I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.”  What truth? The truth that God is sovereign over all and deserves our love and adoration. The truth that he is omnipresent as well as omnipotent, that he is personal as well as powerful. And what would an all powerful but all personal and caring God ask of his creation except that they obey? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Our first instructions were to have dominion over the earth and to serve as God’s caretakers and stewards along side Him. But we foresook his command and disobeyed. So he has given us a new command, repent. And by repentance we may have LIFE again. Eternal life, eternal significance beyond our fallen world.

Some of you may cringe that I dare to say that we ourselves are significant but I put forward that it is the Truth, for we are made in the image of an almighty and awesome God who deemed it worth his while to devote his life to our restoration. And he will have it done His Way.

Above all Jesus teaches us about the WAY. Reminiscent of the Psalmist who says, “raise up a child in the way he should go,” this identification of his person shatters our earthly perceptions of Way and Right by placing himself at the center of both. “This is how you should pray.” “care for the poor” “Love the Lord your God. Love your neighbor as yourself.”  These are all practical and  exact instructions for daily life, and the living of them may not coincide with how we want to live our lives. Christianity is not about our Ways and our Bents, for scripture says that the heart of mankind is deceitful above all things. WE are fallen and our natural bents will become as deceitful as the first Deceiver, for they will naturally supersede the authority and rightful place of God in our lives.  The only Way left to us is to place Christ’s WAY at the center so that we can be transformed and made holy. “You will have NO other Gods before me,” says the Lord, his first Law in the desert to his new people.  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” instructs Paul, as he teaches the men and women of Rome how to BE in the kingdom of God. It is not in our power to “put Christ on the throne of our lives” to quote popular evangelism, as though he could not be king without our permission. Christ IS King and it is by His grace that we may become a part of His kingdom. And he will have that happen according to His Way not ours, which as we’ve seen is by repentance of sin.

How does this not contradict Jewish religion?

Because the Jewish people understand much better than we do the significance of Genesis 1 & 2, for it is the First creation of the Kingdom of God, his Holy Temple, and the Way of Christ is that he is the restoration of that temple.  Do you want to follow Christ? Then you must take up His Way. What is His Way? He is the new Temple of God by which His presence can again dwell with us as in the beginning, and he teaches that we are also to be vessels for the Spirit of God, just as the tabernacle in the desert housed His Holiness. To be his temple we must be holy as he was holy.  How do we be holy? To live as Christ who gave up himself so that we could have life.

Today let us give up ourselves as Christ did. Not to follow a new religion but to live a new Life that shines with the presence of God in us just as the garments of the high priest shone with the radiance of Divine Beauty. And we need not fear the giving up of ourselves for God himself has shown to us our value and significance in His kingdom, “He cares for the least of these. Will He not care for you?” We need only fear the Lord our God. He is the Way in which we should go, he is the Truth which sets us free, he is the Life which restores us to the presence of God and  to His kingdom.

Macrina the Younger

I can’t say how inspired and filled with the Glory of God I feel when I read these amazing stories.  Stories of women whose work has been mostly unrecorded or credited to brothers and uncles simply because they were the wrong gender.  Amazing stories of conviction, persecution and endurance.  Macrina the Younger was one of the young women of her day who chose not to disguise herself as a man in order to pursue an ascetic life and was honored by many men and women as herself.  I’d like to summarize her story as I first read it from the book The Forgotten Desert Mothers by Laura Swan-

Macrina the Younger inherited a great legacy from her grandmother Macrina the Elder, the woman who first inspired her to a monastic life.  She was born in 327 C.E into an aristocratic family with estates primarily in Cappadocia.  Her father and mother led powerful prayer lives and believed in serving the poor and so Macrina, the eldest of the family, was naturally involved in these efforts from an early age.  When her father passed, Macrina became a leader in the household.  She was educated and well versed in the economics and business of her family and she and her mother took on the responsibilities together INCLUDING those of pastoring their household. (to put the idea of a “household” in the proper context – Macrina’s family was very wealthy.  She managed several estates with numerous family members, servants and slaves and all those employees who served in the family affairs).

With the support of her entire family Macrina led the household to become a monastic community, one of the first of it’s size and influence. While history books credit her younger brother, Basil the Great, with the founding of Eastern Monasticism, it was in fact Macrina who started the movement and led Basil to Christ. She and her mother converted many of her younger siblings, none of whom ever challenged her authority and leadership in their growing community.  Macrina became known as “The Teacher” and her brothers Peter and Gregory eventually joined her movement and lived and taught with her.  It would be through the influence of Gregory and Basil that the Council of Nicaea would gain support.  Who was their counselor and spiritual supporter? Their older sister Macrina.  In her letters to Gregory she exhorts him to take a stand for right and to take up the mission begun by their parents.

Macrina would become an influential leader in the church, providing guidance through many major political and spiritual disputes (pg 132).  In her city and the surrounding areas she was known for her generosity, her wisdom and credited with providing the solutions for a major famine.  Her brother Gregory, ever faithful, did her the honor of recording a portion of her teachings “…in a document called On the Soul and the Resurrection.”  When she died the funeral lasted all day as people in her community and family and extended community in the church mourned her passing.

This amazing woman was revered by her fellow theologians and monastics.  She was honored and given the utmost respect for her leadership, courage and profound conviction to purity and pursuit of the heart of Christ. The most powerful moves of Christianity in history have occurred when men and women worked side by side.  I want to be a Macrina. And I want my children to learn the WHOLE of history, not just what their culture deems appropriate.  I want to share this beautiful photograph of my daughter as a statement to her God given image, an image of beauty and innocence, an image of His authority and strength as well as His gentleness and faithfulness.  An image which I believe was supported and taught by our Biblical teachers and by Christ himself.  Whether she be a Macrina, a public leader and teacher of the faith, or a Theodora or a Syncletica and choose to live a life of solitude in the desert, may she learn to devote her entire being to the service of Christ and take up her cross and follow him.

My blessed daughter Gloria - may she learn her name well

My blessed daughter Gloria – may she learn her name well

story taken from The Forgotten Desert Mothers: sayings, lives and stories of early christian women. Published in 1954, copyright 2001 by St. Placid Priory. Paulist Press, NJ.

Letting Go – a part of my art journey

image

I got a phone call from my sister a couple days ago. She had recently had to close out the apartment she and my mom had shared for a while, a place where we’d just had to put down Miko, the second of two, fluffy childhood friends who have passed this year.  My mom just moved to the east coast and my sister had wanted to catch up with her for lunch that day, and remembered  that she wasn’t there anymore.

I didn’t plan to draw this but I was thinking of her as I started and a vision developed of a young woman in sadness and loneliness but with an obvious movement of life around her. The light is in front of her, the darkness is behind her moving away, and she’s sitting on memories, streams of all she is letting go of and they go as it is in their nature to go. The woman is passive, but all around her things continue on as they were made to. When she’s ready, she’ll get up and move on as well.

Desert Mothers

I’m reading an amazing new book that is rocking my world with awesomeness.

Did you know that most of the amazing women who funded the work of the early church were also highly educated and ordained ministers of the gospel? They were deacons, later deaconnesses, with all of the duties, rights and responsibilities we read of in the NT.  They are not only written about as generous and faithful, but called women of deep understanding and wisdom, credited for huge revivals, moves of the gospel and the inspirational partners in ministry of some of the greatest male theologians and ministers of their time.

It wasn’t until almost the sixth century that the institutionalized church, swayed by politics and social stigma, finally crushed the service of women as deacons. But even with the restrictions and criticism the women still continued to serve as much as they were able, or they would move to the desert and live an ascetic monastic life away from people and governments, to be sought out by any who needed them and to give themselves wholly to Christ.

Why aren’t Christian women and girls today taught THIS history? Are the men in the church scared that their women will be more passionate and committed than they are? What is it about the spirit of a dedicated Christian woman that Satan fought so hard to restrict so early on in the movement of the Church? What is it that he is still fighting so hard to suppress?

I think I know.