Be Transformed by the Resurrection

Make way for sun.

Make way for the light.

The last two weeks on the Cup of Sunday Quiet, we’ve been focused on Easter. In particular, the weekly lectio recordings that I create for that community of subscribers have centered on resurrection stories — the story of Mary Magdalene encountering the empty tomb and the risen Christ, then the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples gathered in the upper room. 

I’m being transformed by these stories. 

That’s the wonderful thing about lectio divina. It carries the power to transform. You may be listening to a portion of Scripture you’ve heard a hundred times, but you’ve never heard it in just this moment, carrying just what you’re carrying now, responding in just the way you’re moved to respond today. 

Plus, it creates room for real response. You’re invited to encounter your real heart as well as God. You’re invited to let God encounter you. 

It can be a powerful, transformative experience.

I’m away at a conference this week and won’t be posting here, but in my absence I’d like to invite you deeper into this season of Easter through these two resurrection stories. Will you make room to encounter the risen Christ?

PS: Please pardon a little bit of airplane interference in the second recording — a sometimes-hazard of living in the flight path of an international airport! :-)

PPS: To receive the Sunday Quiet mailing each week, sign up here.



Getting to Know God

Mary Magdalene: “I have seen the Lord!”

When I realized what the title of this post was going to be — “Getting to Know God” — I kind of chuckled and shook my head in amazement. I mean, really — get to know God? The maker of the whole universe? The one who conceived of the reality we know and exist inside each day? Get to know him?

It’s rather incredible that God even allows such a thing, isn’t it?

In this “getting to know God” process, I find myself so thankful for the Scriptures that teach us who God is. There’s a whole massive book written by about forty different individuals, all sharing with us different facets of God’s character and action in the world.

I’m thankful, too, for the created world and how it can teach us about this God. For instance, just yesterday, Kirk and I were talking about heaven. He wondered aloud if we would still have organs in our bodies in heaven. Such an unusual thing to think about, but my eventual response was, “Why not? God created the super-complex and incredible systems of our bodies. Why wouldn’t those remain in heaven? God considered them good when they were first made.” The uber-complexity of our bodies and how beautifully they susbist in their own system teaches us a lot about this God of all being — it teaches us that God is masterful, creative, scientific, mathematic, and precise, for instance.

I find it incredible, too, that the person of Jesus is also there to greet us in the Scriptures as one more way for us to get to know God. God himself! In the flesh! Walking around and talking with and being in relationship with real, live people. Yet one more way that God allows himself to be known to us.

All of this is kind of mind-blowing, if you ask me.

How have you gotten to know God in your own life? What kind of things have you learned?

After Easter

Where will your path lead?

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:18-20

Yesterday we noticed that, in his resurrection and ascension, Jesus is with us even now, here, today. (I am so thankful for that, aren’t you?)

Today, I want to notice what was next — for the disciples and for us.

We talked about this a little bit already last week when we noticed the way Jesus prepared the disciples for life after life with him on earth. But in these last words he spoke to them before ascending into heaven, we learn a little bit more. 

Simply put, he asks them to make disciples. 

When reading through Matthew this time through, I really felt the fullness of what that charge meant.

Jesus spent three years with his disciples. He was with them day in and day out. He taught them about himself and about the nature of the kingdom of God. He answered their questions. He corrected their misunderstandings. He helped them practice the same things they saw him doing. 

He wasn’t asking them to evangelize with a few quick sentences or a few quick questions. 

He was asking them to be with people as he was with them.

Teaching them. Orienting them to a truer reality than the one they see around them. Showing them the nature of Jesus by their own lives. Answering their questions. Being present to them.

Life after Easter is about having Jesus with us here and sharing him — the fullness of him — with others. I so love that. It’s become what I most want to do.

He Is Risen, and He Is With Us


They called him Immanuel, which means “God With Us.”

For me, that has always meant the wonder of the incarnation — of God humbling himself into human form in Jesus in order to draw near, to be with us in our human experience of life, and to then die in order to draw us even nearer to himself. 

But this year, I’m thinking about the way Jesus is still, right now, with us. 

He is always Immanuel. 

Matthew records these last words of Jesus to his followers after the resurrection, just as he ascended into heaven: 

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

— Matthew 28:20

He is with us always. Even to the end of the age. 

Just as he was ascending into heaven, he tells his disciples he is with them always. It’s a physical impossibility for someone to be in heaven but also here on earth.

Unless you are God. Unless you have a Spirit by whom you come and dwell inside of man. Unless you have a Spirit whose role it is to remind humanity of all your words and teachings and to teach them even more truth — all things — than you taught while walking the earth. This is what Jesus says is true of the Holy Spirit: 

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. … But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

— John 14:23, 26

We have Jesus now, here. He comes and dwells with us. And we learn, through the agency of His Holy Spirit, all that is true and real in this life that God created. 

He is risen from the dead, and he is here with us now. Praise be to God!

The Women Who Never Left Him

Caring for the Christ.

Reading through the passion account in Matthew this year, I noticed the women. They’re faithfully there. 

On Friday, when Jesus was abandoned and ridiculed and scorned from every possible direction, hanging there on the cross, we read this: 

And many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, were there looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. 

— Matthew 27:55

I think about them standing there, from afar, looking on. What were they thinking and feeling? What might they have said to one another, standing there, watching it all unfold? 

They must have felt so helpless, so astounded and incredulous, so grieved. 

And then we read that they were there when Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in clean linen cloths, and laid it inside the brand-new tomb he’d recently hewn out of rock. It says: 

And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

— Matthew 27:61

In his death, they remained as close to him as they could get. They sat at his tomb. They watched. They wondered. They remained.

And on Sunday morning, as soon as the Sabbath has passed, they were there at the dawn of morning. They “came to see the tomb,” Matthew tells us. Mark’s gospel says they brought spices with them there, so they could anoint his dead body. 

The women take such care for him, I noticed. So attentive. So faithful and present, even after he died. 

It’s how they remained with him in his life, too.

Mary of Bethany (believed to be Mary Magdalene by the Catholic tradition) sat at his feet when he visited her home one time. Even as her sister Martha prepared the meal in the kitchen and got things ready to eat, Mary sat at his feet looking up at him, listening, learning, just being with him. 

On another occasion, that same Mary anointed his feet with expensive perfume as well as her very own tears, in anticipation and preparation of his death. Jesus remarks on every occasion that story is recorded in the gospels that it meant an incredible deal to him that she would demonstrate such love and care and sacrifice for him in his sorrows.

The women in Jesus’ life were so faithful and loving toward him. 

And it so moves me that, on the Sunday after his death, when they came to the tomb with the intent to anoint his body with their spices, our risen Lord chose to appear to them first. What grace.

He Hung There All Alone

Christ, for you.

As I was reading through the narrative of Christ’s passion in Matthew’s gospel last weekend, I was struck by the utter aloneness of Jesus. 

After spending three full years of eating meals, taking walks, listening to teachings, witnessing and performing miracles, enjoying friendship, and just doing everyday life with Jesus, his closest friends left him in an instant. Once the guards and multitudes arrived to take Jesus away in the garden, we read: 

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. 

— Matthew 26:56

Except Matthew includes a little postnote about Peter two verses later: 

But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.

— Matthew 26:58

Really, Peter? You followed at a distance, snuck into a courtyard, hid among a cluster of servants — in order to see how it would turn out? 

It feels so sneaky. And that note about Peter really heightened my sense of Jesus’ aloneness in all of this. Even his closest friend could do no more than sneak around in the background on him, staying on the periphery. He wasn’t willing to come near. He wasn’t willing to be with Jesus. 

But then the aloneness just gets worse. 

Everyone in the high priest’s court testifies against him. There he stood, in the middle of all assembled there, while person after person brought their case against him. Then they took turns abusing him — they spat in his face, beat him, and taunted him, hitting him from behind and then goading him to prophecy who had done the hitting each time. 

The next day, on the day we observe today as Good Friday, the receding continued.

Against his better judgment, Pilate delivered the death sentence and then scourged him. His soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and crushed it into the brow of Jesus, then dressed him up in royal robes and mocked him. They, too, spat in his face and hit him on the head from behind with objects. 

Once Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers hung out at his feet on the ground below the cross and gambled with each other for his clothes. People walking by the cross wagged their heads at him and sneered: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. Save yourself!” 

Even the two thieves, the ones hanging on his right and left, abandoned him. The scriptures say they reviled him as they hung there next to him (Matt. 26:44). 

He hung there all alone. Everyone left him. No one could stand to be with him in his final hours. 

And then the world turned black.

"Will You Watch With Me One Hour?"


Today is Maundy Thursday. It’s the day in the church calendar that signifies the final night of Christ’s freedom.

On this night of his life, Jesus celebrated the Passover feast with his disciples in the Upper Room. During that meal, he gave thanks for the bread and wine and offered it to them, saying that it represented his own body and blood that were being given and shed for his followers. He also, as recorded in John 13, washed the feet of his disciples (the act that gives Maundy Thursday its name). 

And then he walked with them to Mount of Olives.

This is the place that holds the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus struggled in prayer on that last night of his freedom, asking God if he really did need to die. 

When going apart to pray, we see Jesus ask his closest disciples to sit and wait for him. When he comes back to them three different times, each time he finds them asleep. Grieved, he asks them:

“Could you not watch with Me one hour?”

Tonight at my church, we’ve been invited to participate in a prayer vigil that is being kept through the night. Kirk and I signed up for a slot at 3 a.m., and I’m just full of anticipation at the opportunity to arrive at my church in the dead of night and kneel on the ground before an altar of candles, sitting with Jesus in the silence.

Will I be able to stay awake with him one hour? I hope so. 

And I want to encourage you, if you are so inclined, to carve out an hour of time this evening to do the same. Create a space in a corner of your home for this. It doesn’t have to be a very large or particularly holy kind of corner. Just a space for you and Jesus to sit together for an hour. Maybe light a candle. Maybe sit with your journal to record the things you think about or pray during that time. Spend time sitting with Jesus in the silence and the darkness of night, waiting with him for the hour of his death that soon approaches.

If you do this, I’d love to hear what it’s like for you. 

Oh, Judas

Holy light.

This is a continuation of daily posts through Holy Week.

For some reason, I’ve spent more time thinking about Judas this Easter than ever before. He keeps cropping up everywhere.

I wonder about him. 

Did he know the religious leaders intended to kill Jesus when he agreed to hand him over to them? In Mark’s gospel account of the betrayal in the garden, we read that Judas told the multitude who came to seize Jesus, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely” (Mark 14:43). 

Lead him away safely? That doesn’t sound like the directive of someone who knows he’s leading a band of marauders who have blood and death set in their hearts. 

I wonder about Jesus, too. 

When Judas approaches Jesus in that moment of betrayal and greets him with that traitorous kiss, Jesus calls him friend: 

“Friend, why have you come?” 

— Matthew 26:50


Jesus knows why Judas came. Just 30 verses earlier in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him and identifies Judas explicitly as the one. “Rabbi, is it I?” he asks Jesus. “You have said it,” Jesus replies. 

And yet he calls his betrayer friend and asks him why he’s come. 

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus is inviting Judas to face the truth of himself — that perhaps he knew Judas was detached from the reality of his actions. Even though Judas went directly to the chief priests and agreed to betray Jesus for a fee of silver, he then asked Jesus if he was the one who would do it. Did he not know — really — what he had set himself to do? 

Did Judas not have the strength to see and own the truth of himself? 

I’m not sure he did. We know what happened after Jesus was condemned by the religious leaders to death. Judas feels remorseful, goes back to the religious leaders to try and make things right, is denied, and then goes and hangs himself. 

Oh, Judas. My heart breaks for you.

Last year in an Ash Wednesday service, I was led to consider for the first time what happened during those three days Jesus spent in Hades after he died. What did he say or do in his time down there? Did he preach the truth of his own good news to those already dead?

I hope so.

And then recently, my rector posed a new question: Did he encounter Judas there? 

If so, I wonder what their encounter was like. I can’t help but hope Judas bowed at the feet of Jesus and repented of what he’d done, then received the open, forgiving arms of Jesus welcoming him back into love.

Preparing the Disciples for What Comes Next


This is a continuation of daily posts through Holy Week.

After Jesus engaged in a truth-telling series of teaching with the religious leaders in Jerusalem, he spent time with his disciples. 

And what he did was prepare them for life after life on earth with Jesus. 

If you have a red-letter Bible and look at Matthew 24-25, you will see solid red letters all the way through. All of these red letters — the very words of Christ — are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples about what to expect about the end of time and how to live in the meantime, while waiting for it to come to pass. 

He’s teaching them how to live after he’s left them.

He begins by answering their question about the end of days, telling them how they will know those days are near. He prepares them for the inevitability of false prophets who will call themselves the savior in his stead. He tells them life will be hard. 

And he asks them, in all of this, to be faithful and trustworthy: 

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.”

— Matthew 24:45-47

This teaching to be faithful continues through chapter 25.

He tells the parable of the ten virgins — five wise and five foolish — who awaited the coming of their groom. What made five of them wise? Being prepared with enough oil to light their lamps through the night, no matter how long they were made to wait for the groom’s arrival. 

He tells the parable of the talents — a master who goes away for a long spell but leaves his servants with some resources with which to be creative and useful and fruitful while he’s gone. Those who were blessed upon his return were those who did just that: used what the master had given them to some good and fruitful end.

He talks about a division of sheep and goats — those who enter into glory (sheep) and those who don’t (goats). What marks the difference? Those who choose to love and care for others on earth, no matter their circumstance.

In all this, Jesus is teaching his disciples — and all of us who follow him — how to live until the end of time. 

Be faithful. Be useful for good with what you have and who you are. Be full of love and care and kindness and mercy. Until he returns to set all things right.

Enter Jerusalem, Enter Conflict and Strife

Cloud wonder.

This is a continuation of daily posts through Holy Week that began yesterday

It struck me this time more than any other time I’ve read through the gospel of Matthew that confrontation and strife first greeted Jesus when he entered Jerusalem. 

The first thing he did was cleanse the temple. Yes. I’d noticed that before. 

But this was the first time I’d thought about this being the temple. As in, the huge, monolithic structure that the people of Israel took years and years to build in the time of Solomon. As in, the place of intent and holy pilgrimage for all the Jews every year when they observed the Passover. As in, regarded with way more reverence than any local synagogue that stood in for the temple on behalf of the people throughout the rest of the year’s duration. 

Jesus came and cleansed that temple

I’m pretty sure that made no little mark on the city that week. 

He then proceeded to have it out with the religious leaders — the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even the Herodians. Every single one of them wanted a piece of Jesus once he got to Jerusalem.

And here’s what I noticed.

Even though Jesus had been confronted by the religious leaders throughout his three years of ministry elsewhere, this time it came on him like an onslaught. He’d no sooner finish answering one question than another group of leaders would approach him with another. 

I share in the Look at Jesus course that the gospel of Matthew is known as a teaching gospel. This is a gospel where we find long sections of scripture where Jesus teaches and teaches and teaches in long, continuous strands. Sometimes the people listening to that teaching are his disciples. Sometimes it is the multitude of people following him around everywhere

In this case, Jesus launches into a teaching discourse with his enemies. 

For three straight chapters, we see him very pointedly telling stories that liken those religious leaders to people who completely mess up — a son who tells his father that he’ll work the family vineyard but then doesn’t; vinedressers who are hired to work a landowner’s vineyard but beat, stone, and murder everyone in authority who comes on the owner’s behalf to check on the land, even up to the landowner’s son; the original guest list for a king’s lavish wedding feast who decide their own affairs are more important than the wedding feast and even go so far as to kill those who come to invite them to attend.

Matthew makes very clear that the religious leaders know what Jesus is doing in these stories — that he’s talking about them. They can read between the lines of the stories, and they’re furious. 

The conflict doesn’t stop there, though. 

Jesus then begins his long and famous diatribe against the scribes and Pharisees. Not only does he first warn the people against them in no uncertain terms, but he then starts in on them directly with numerous “Woe to you!” vindictives. 

The confrontations Jesus has with the religious leaders earlier in his ministry are tame compared to those he engaged in Jerusalem the very last week of his life.

It’s as though the fire has been turned up — way up. And it’s about to boil over.

Palm Sunday, and Entering Holy Week


Hello, loves. 

When I shared the 2012 dates for the Look at Jesus course earlier this year, someone asked if I intended the first offering of the course to start with Holy Week. Truthfully, no. It hadn’t crossed into my awareness at all that the first week of the course would coincide with the week leading up to Easter. 

I consider it a serendipitous oversight now.

And that’s because this weekend, as I’ve been reading the Gospel of Matthew in preparation for the start of the course this week, I have found it very special to be reading the details of the last week of Jesus’ life at the same exact time the worldwide church is observing that same event.

It was rather surreal, for example, to be reading along in the pages of Scripture earlier today and to suddenly find myself in Matthew 21, which depicts the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem — otherwise known as Palm Sunday.

Which is today. 

I’ve decided, in observance of Holy Week, to post consecutively here from today through Easter, using the posts this week to share things that have struck me about the passion week of Jesus as I’ve read through the pages of Matthew, in particular, this weekend. 

Like, for instance, that it wasn’t until Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ — the anointed one all Israel had been waiting to arrive — that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem and his impending death.

Matthew records these words just after Peter confesses the truth of Jesus’ identity: 

“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” 

— Matthew 16:21

In this, we see that Jesus knew his fate. He knew what awaited him in Jerusalem. He knew what had to happen. He knew what lay ahead.

But his disciples didn’t. Not until they’d professed him as the Christ, that is. Only then were they ready to learn what lay ahead. Even if they still didn’t fully understand it. Even if they weren’t really ready for it. Even if they would leave him once the persecution began.

Jesus Is the Beatitudes, Maybe


This morning I was sitting on the beach with Jesus, telling him about something unexpected that happened yesterday about which I’d been invited to make a decision. 

There were some pieces to weigh in the decision, but overall, my response to what had emerged was quite positive. I sat on the beach with Jesus and told him everything I was thinking and feeling about it.

As I spoke, I was quite animated, just letting myself be in the moment and the reality of my thoughts and feelings. And while I shared those things with him, he just kept looking at me, listening, with a smile on his face. It almost seemed like his eyes were sparkling.

I found myself quite captivated by him in that moment, so amazed and thankful that he has given me a chance to know him in this way. But I also found myself quite aware that this is the God of the universe here, sitting on the beach with me, listening and smiling. 

Isn’t this what they call meekness — strength and power brought under control? 

If so, Jesus is the full embodiment of meekness. All the power of the Godhead in himself and all the knowledge of the world and all existence, encased in an ordinary human body and present with us in the minutiae of our lives.

This got me thinking about the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, where Jesus says, “Blessed are the … , for they shall … ” Those who are meek are on that list. Those who are peacemakers are on that list, too. Those who show mercy are on that list, and so are those who mourn. 

Jesus is all these things, and more.

And it got me thinking: Jesus is all the Beatitudes, maybe? That is a new thought for me. I can’t say I’ve ever read the Beatitudes list in quite that way before, using Jesus as an example.

Have you ever thought about this? What do you think about Jesus being all the Beatitudes?

PS: If you enjoy learning about Jesus in this space and find yourself wanting to know him more, I invite you to consider joining us for the next offering of Look at Jesus. Registration will open on Monday — space is limited to 10 participants!

With You in the Storms

The rule of thirds and negative space.

It seems everywhere I’ve looked in the last 24 hours, there have been reminders of storms.

But in each storm, God has been present to still and overcome them with his mere presence or a word.

For example, last night I recorded a lectio divina exercise for a small group of friends, and the passage selected for the exercise was taken from Matthew 14. This is the passage where Jesus walks on the water and then invites Peter to walk on the water, too.

Did you know that in that story, Jesus came walking on the water in the midst of a great storm? The passage says that it was an evening when the disciples were being “battered by the waves.” Also, when Peter walked out on the water to Jesus, it was a glance at “the waves churning beneath his feet” that made him lose his nerve and start to sink. 

Jesus reached out a hand to keep Peter from sinking further into the tumultuous ocean. And once he and Peter climbed back in the boat, the ocean became as still as glass. 

Here’s another example. Later in the evening, Kirk and I listened to the daily Pray as You Go podcast, which we like to do together as a devotional way to end the day. The sacred music selection for this weekend’s recording held the following words: 

Calm me, Lord, as you calm the storm

Still me, Lord, keep me from harm

Let all the tumult within me cease

Enfold me, Lord, in your peace 

And the Gospel reading for the podcast was yet another storm-related story — that of Jesus being asleep on a boat while a great storm came and assailed it on all sides. Here is another place where Jesus, once woken by the disciples in their fear, spoke a single word to the storm and made it calm. 

And then this morning, the psalms offered yet another encouragement concerning the presence of storms: 

Sea storms are up, God

Sea storms wild and roaring,

Sea storms with thunderous breakers.

Stronger than wild sea storms,

Mightier than sea-storm breakers,

Mighty God rules from High Heaven.

— Psalm 93:3-4

Our God is mightier than the storms. Though the storms may rage around us, turning us toward fear, the presence of God and a mere word from his lips is enough to slay them and bring back calm.

What storms do you face in life today? In what ways are you assailed and battered by waves? How does the near presence of Jesus or a mere word from his lips bring the size of the waves down to mere calm?  

Maybe, Just Maybe, He Wants to Hold Our Cares for Us

Enamored with light.

It’s no secret this week has been a rough one for me. And if you read two posts I wrote in one of my other blog spaces this week, you’ll learn even more of the context for why that is

So this morning when I woke and still found myself battling “the heavies,” I sat down for a while in my small hallway — back against one wall, bare feet propped against the wall in front of me, and a heavy blue yoga mat adding cushion to my seat upon the hardwood floor. 

I sat in tucked in that little hallway space for a while, plenty far from the distractions of my computer and my cell phone, and just stared at the wall in front of me and prayed. 

Inside that prayer time, I could see Jesus and me at the beach.

We were thigh-deep in the ocean water, and we were smiling and laughing with each other. Every once in a while, I would spin myself around in the water, play-dancing with him a little bit, letting him delight in me as I delighted in the beauty and freedom of that present moment. 

There was such lightness and joy in that scene, and it seemed to be my true self at peace and at rest and so carefree in the presence of my Lord. 

And yet I sat on the floor in my hallway and told Jesus that scene just felt so far away. 

My true self was also nestled between the beadboard hallway of my house, heart-heavy and sad about the state of the world, of history, and of my own dark demons. 

The distance between here and there could not have been more poignant: one light and carefree and full of joy and laughter, the other heavy and burdened and full of sadness and grief. 

My true heart grieves. My true heart also trusts. 

The invitation from Jesus in that moment seemed to be not to carry it alone. He reminded me of this invitation: 

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

— Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe, just maybe, he wants to carry the truth of my grief. Maybe, just maybe, he wants to carry it while walking with me and talking with me about it. He doesn’t want to negate it is there. He doesn’t want to deny the reality of my cares. He gave me the cares that I have — he made my heart care for these things.

He simply wants to hold the weight of those cares as we walk and talk together about them.

And maybe, in the midst of all that, he also wants to let me play.

My Prayer for You Today

A quiet morning.

Sometimes I become overwhelmed at the state of the world and all its tragedies and ruin. Today has been one such day. I have been filled with such heaviness of heart today, despair looming close and near, and so I practically crawled to the noonday eucharist at my church. I needed to be reminded of the hope that we have in Christ. 

There, we were reminded of the feast day of the conversion of St. Paul — a man who persecuted the early Christians tirelessly, dragging them before authorities and overseeing their deaths in the name of religious fervor and zeal.

And yet, one day, he was converted in an instant to Christianity. As he writes in his letter to the Galatian church: 

“God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me … “

— Galatians 1:15-16

The story of St. Paul’s conversion brought me a much-needed reminder of hope today.

Most especially, it reminded me that God is the one who calls us and is pleased to reveal his son to us at just the right time. He knows when it is time for each one of us to encounter the risen Christ in a way that will change us forever. 

And so my prayer today — for you, for me, and for all of this big wide world — is that God would indeed call us to himself through his grace and be pleased to reveal his son, the Christ, Jesus, to each one of us.

He Comes to Us Where We Are

Light through leaves.

Yesterday I wrote about an experience I had recently of feeling like I was being grabbed by a ponytail on the top of my head and tossed about by the whims of others. I shared that I was able to see Jesus sitting nearby, inviting me to disengage from the abuse and come join him on the brownstone steps. I said I found it interesting that he didn’t come rescue me. 

Rescuing me, in the way I’ve previously experienced Jesus as my rescuer, would have looked like him coming to disengage me from the abuse himself. It would have looked like him coming out into the street, confronting the abusers, and pulling me safe into his arms and away from the scene of such pain. 

It would have looked like him rescuing and defending a young girl in the way she needs to be rescued and defended. 

But that’s not what happened. And what’s perhaps most surprising to me is that I was totally okay with that. 

It was a picture, for me, of my growth. I noticed that when I came to sit on the brownstone steps with Jesus, I was no longer a 3-year-old girl with a ponytail but an alive and strong 32-year-old woman who could sit shoulder to shoulder with Jesus and hold an adult conversation. It was so electrifying and invigorating to notice and experience that.. 

And it reminded me that he comes to us exactly where we are.

We’ve been talking about this in the Look at Jesus course I’m teaching right now. We’ve been noticing how differently Jesus responds to different groups and types of people. With some people, he’s gentle and kind. With others, he’s direct and abrasive. 

It can be unsettling to see the many different colors of Jesus in one huge array at once. 

But we’ve come to think it shows his genius — that it has to do with his ability to know exactly what a person needs and to meet them where they are, like the most perfect teacher or parent that ever existed. Some people need gentleness and kindness. Others need greater directness and candor. And others need something totally different than either of those things.

Jesus knows the difference and gives them the exact right thing. 

It reminds me of a moment several years ago when I really got at least part of the miracle of Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2: 

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. 

— Philippians 2:5-7

Now, there are many things to learn of God and Christ inside these words. But one thing these words teach us is the nature of Christ’s love. It’s a love that comes to us where we are. 

When I needed Jesus to rescue me in times past, he rescued me. When I needed him to hold me in his arms to comfort and soothe me, he did just that. And when I needed him to remind me of my strength, my volition, and my own dignity, like he did in the ponytail incident more recently, that’s what he did. 

He comes to us where we are. And where we are and what we need changes over time as we grow. This, too, is what spiritual formation is about. It’s about growing into the whole and complete person we are meant to be in God’s sight, and that changes over time as we grow into it.

How do you need Jesus to meet you right where you are right now? What does his coming to where you are look like in this particular time and place of your life and growth?

Understanding Increases Through Largeness of Heart

Tree romance.

I’ve been continuing to read my way through 1 Kings, and the story of Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, keeps teaching me so much. This morning I read the following: 

“God gave Solomon wisdom — the deepest of understanding and the largest of hearts.”

— 1 Kings 4:29

The word understanding shows up quite a bit in the Bible, and it is especially present in the book of Proverbs — which, unsurprisingly, was written in large measure by Solomon. Littered all over the pages of the Proverbs, for example, we read exhortations like the following:

Get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. 

— Proverbs 4:7

Wisdom and understanding are somehow linked, and very closely so. 

But how are largeness of heart and understanding linked? That largeness of heart was included in the description of Solomon’s wisdom gave me pause. I’d not considered such a connection before. What does it mean, really, to have the deepest of understanding or the largest of hearts, and how are those things related to wisdom?

I thought then of the story in 1 Kings 3 where two prostitutes show up in Solomon’s court and argue over their two infant sons. One of the sons has died, and the other one still living is the object of both of their desire. Solomon is asked to sort out which woman is the true mother. 

I’ve always loved this story because Solomon solves it a bit like a riddle. Since the women can’t agree, he orders the baby boy be cut in half and both of them to receive half. It’s a crazy dictum, but Solomon knows what he is doing. He knows that the real mother of that baby would not bear his being cut in half. She would rather save his life than see him brought to harm, and she would rather the other woman have him if that meant she could keep him from that harm. So when the woman who couldn’t bear to see that happen spoke up, Solomon knew she was the boy’s true mother, and he gave the boy to her. 

This tells me about Solomon’s “deepest of understanding” in the sense that he could see deeper into the matter than his own life experience would normally teach him to know. He understood the heart of a woman — and of a mother, really — even though he was not a woman or a mother himself. 

In this way, Solomon evinced largeness of heart. 

Upon reflection, I think largeness of heart has to do with the ability to hold another person’s experience inside yourself. It’s an ability to contain more than yourself inside yourself. It’s about having room for more than just you. Your heart, instead, is large. It expands. It can hold more. 

And in holding more, the capacity for deeper understanding follows. And in that deeper quality of understanding, wisdom is found.

Registration Open for Look at Jesus Course!

Hi, everyone!

I’m excited to open registration (at long last!) for Look at Jesus: a Gospel immersion course. Below, I’ve shared a short preview video, registration details, and a list of FAQs about the course. 

I hope you will choose to join us for what I am sure will be a meaningful time of exploration and dialogue!



Course dates: October 18-November 26

Course length: Six weeks 

Course fee:$70 $35 (one-time reduced rate for pilot class)

To register, see below!


Frequently Asked Questions 

What will be covered in the course? 

In this 6-week course, we’ll read all four Gospel accounts in the Bible — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — and reflect on what we’re noticing about the main character in each account, which is Jesus. Opportunities will be provided for both personal reflection and group discussion throughout the course.

What kind of coursework will there be, and what is the time commitment?

We will read one Gospel per week for the first four weeks, and you can complete that reading on your own timetable. Two reflection postings will be offered each week (on Tuesdays and Fridays), and you can reflect upon and respond to these questions at your own pace, as well. In the last two weeks of class, several personal reflection exercises will help you pull together your thoughts and experiences in a meaningful way.

What sort of interaction can I expect to share with the course instructor and other participants? 

A video post by me, the instructor, will be shared at the start of each week. I will also post two reflection questions each week, and everyone enrolled in the course is welcome to respond to these questions in a shared comment space. Our course classroom will also include a discussion board forum where you are welcome to share additional questions and thoughts with the rest of the enrolled community. (Participation in the discussion board forum is, of course, optional.)

Do I have to purchase any extra materials for this course?

Besides a copy of the Bible, a computer, and internet access to access the course, no other books or materials are required. 

Do I need to be a Christian to take this course? 

No, you do not. This course is open to anyone who wants to get to know the person of Jesus a little bit more. (But please note that the course is being taught by a Christian instructor with a distinctly Christian perspective and spirituality.)


I hope you’ll join us! 

To enroll in the pilot course that begins October 18 — at a 50% discount of $35 — click on the button below. (You will be redirected to Paypal.)


After you register, you will receive a welcome e-mail from me with additional sneak peeks, goodies, and get-to-know-you questions.

If there are additional questions I can answer for you about the course, leave them in the comments below or e-mail me at christianne118 at gmail dot com. 



What Jesus Is Here to Offer You

Prayer candles.

Jesus did not begin his work of ministry on the earth until he was 30 years old.

For the first 30 years of his life, he grew up in his family home with brothers and sisters, learned the family trade to become a carpenter, honored his father and mother, and engaged the leaders in the synagogue regularly concerning the teachings of the Scriptures.

The book of Luke says that as Jesus grew up, he “grew strong in body and wise in spirit. And the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:38). It also says that “Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people” (v. 52).

But it wasn’t until Jesus was 30 years old that he came into the public eye as the proclaimed Messiah that Israel had been waiting for.

At that time, he went down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. Then he received the Holy Spirit and went straight into the desert for 40 days to fast. While he was in the desert, the devil tempted him several times to give up his position as the Son of God and the work of ministry he was about to set out to do.

But he emerged from those temptations victorious, and when he came out of the wilderness after 40 days of wandering around inside of it, he went straight to the temple in Nazareth to begin his life of ministry among the people.

Do you know what Jesus said to the people to officially mark the beginning of his purposed work? He told everyone seated in the temple that day what he, the Messiah, had come to do. He opened the scroll to the book of Isaiah and read these words: 

“The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me

   because God anointed me.

He sent me to preach good news to the poor,

   heal the heartbroken,

Announce freedom to all captives,

   pardon all prisoners.

God sent me to announce the year of his grace —

   a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies —

   and to comfort all who mourn,

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,

   give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,

Messages of joy instead of news of doom,

   a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.” 

— Isaiah 61:1-3 

Here is what Jesus has to offer you.

He comes to bring you welcome news. He comes to heal you. He wants to set you free from bondage. He comes to pardon you. He is here to bring you comfort. He comes to destroy your enemies. He’s here to care for your needs. He brings you beauty instead of ashes. He brings you joy instead of gloom. He is here to fully restore your languishing heart.

Do you want to receive this gift from Jesus?