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in Advent

ADVENT: DAY 8

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

"1Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me;
suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple.
The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
2Who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can withstand his appearance?
He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap.
3He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver.
He will purify the Levites
and refine them like gold and silver.
They will belong to the Lord,
presenting a righteous offering."--Malachi 3:1-3

Sundays at Chimwemwe Presbyterian church are exhilarating for me. They give me energy in the way that church should give energy. Today, after singing and dancing to a Bemba song about riding on a bus that Satan can't drive--including a conga line around the sanctuary--thank you PYOCA for preparing me with energizers all those years--we sang the lyrics, "Send us your fire, your Holy Ghost fire!"

While trying mightily but failing to understand the Bemba sermon, I was reflecting on the Malachi passage in light of the worship experience. All I could feel was pure joy! At first this joy seemed to be at odds with the idea of being refined in fire and purified by some powerful cleansing soap. Then the Holy Ghost fire singing and dancing came back to me. I thought, "Why do we think of purification and being cleansed as painful, onerous processes? How do we so easily lose sight of the exhilarating freedom that comes from shedding the dirt, the stench, the dead skin?"

Granted, going through a fire meant for the refinement of precious metals and then being scrubbed raw by strong soap would be a truly painful experience. For silver and gold, though, such is the process that makes it shine. Many of us have learned through society and our churches and the societies within our churches that we must suffer and go through experiences of crippling guilt in order to be holy, to be doing faith right.

Today I say, "Not so!" Shedding that which holds us back can be joyful! The Spirit makes us beautiful and acceptable through song, through dance, and through community celebrations!

I think we have a choice as to what type of refiner's fire we go through...being raked through the coals and scrubbed raw or going through the Holy Ghost fire.

Send us your fire, your Holy Ghost fire!

Posted December 6, 2015

 

Posted by Tyler W. Orem with
in Advent

ADVENT: DAY 7

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

"Jesus called the Twelve together and he gave them power and authority over all demons and to heal sicknesses. 2 He sent them out to proclaim God’s kingdom and to heal the sick. 3 He told them, “Take nothing for the journey—no walking stick, no bag, no bread, no money, not even an extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. 5 Wherever they don’t welcome you, as you leave that city, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.” 6 They departed and went through the villages proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere." Luke 9:1-6

I have spent the day in sacred rest, celebrating a Sabbath for the first time in far too long. It has been rejuvenating to say the least. After a busy week at TEEZ, lots of time spent with friends, and an intense several days of personal reflection and growth, I needed it.

In no way has my labor this week been near the level of the disciples who were commanded to do the work of the Kin-dom without any of their own personal resources, to rely fully upon others. They even faced the certainty of being rejected by some of the communities they would visit. Really, if there is any group of people laboring like the disciples today, it is the Syrian refugees.

They have had to leave everything behind, and they face certain rejection from those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fact that they have the resilience and communal strength to survive is a clearer testament of the gospel than anything I have seen coming from the countries that are fighting over who can be the most xenophobic.

If I have had to take this day of rest, I can only imagine how deep that need is for those who have been forced to wander. As we take the time to rest this season, let's also take the time to act so that others may rest.

Posted December 5, 2015

 

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Being planted in the rich soils of Zambia to inspire regrowth at home. “Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit” -Matthew 13:8