We have a double-feature today on the blog: a Faith Barista Jam & a special Advent Giveaway! At the end of today's post, click the blue button to submit your Unwrapping Jesus discoveries or simply comment.
“When you hear God speak, do you trust, do you accept, or do you analyze and then reject?” ~ Ian Strachan, Today In A Manger
I was walking through a local art gallery last weekend when I ended my horseshoe tour at the front desk. Making paces around panels of paintings, I was hoping to get inspired.
Most of the paintings I viewed were what you’d expect — still life perspectives on apples, bananas and grapes, some portraits of unknown faces, and of course, you gotta have the country landscapes.
I was winding my way back to the entrance door when a tiny painting hung low near the floor caught my eye.
It was a silhouette of two people hanging back in conversation. What made this painting stand out apart from the rest was how much space there was in the composition. You couldn’t see their hands, eyes or facial expressions, but you didn’t need to.
The painting provided a space for a story.
My mind drank in the colors, lighting and characters painted in the scene. I entered into the moment that the artist portrayed, and I filled it with voice, mood, and emotion.
Staring into the painting made me wonder:
how have I filled the spaces in my story this Christmas?
Have I left any space for faith and belief?
Or have I filled the uncertainties with logic and fear?
A Week Before Christmas
As Christmas approaches, our greatest dilemma will not be about shopping, family drama, or how we will celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Our greatest dilemma at Christmas
hovers over the question of faith —
Will we take the leap of faith
that allows God to fill in the empty spaces in our stories?
What is the next step for you around the bend of the new year?
Are you answering the challenges you’re up against with reasonable answers — or God-dependent resolve?
How we fill in the missing spaces affects the composition of God’s will and our own ways.
How Will We Meet The Challenge?
Christmas can sometimes feel like a forced vacation from the questions and challenges we’re trying to solve. We like to fill in the blanks, make a plan and see a path to resolution.
God’s reply to Mary and to us through the angel Gabriel was radical encouragement —
“Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:37 MSG
Do we actually believe that God can do anything?
Mary could have responded with —
“Not this way…’
Instead, Mary believed —
“Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.”
~ Luke 1:37 MSG
It dawned on me. What Mary saw wasn’t how things would work out.
Mary had no idea what was up ahead of her — giving birth with no friends or family around, returning to raise Jesus among rumors and innuendo, and seeing her son die unexpectedly at 33, hung as a criminal.
What Mary did see was that God would fill in the blanks. She was willing to be that space for His story.
Today, you and I also face this mind-boggling dilemma at Christmas too.
Will we stand distant and detached until we fill in all the blanks — or will we take a leap of faith and give God the space to write His story?
What is God telling you to do today?*
What leap of faith do you need to take, as Christmas approaches, to ensure that His will is accomplished?*
A Special Advent Giveaway
(*) Today’s two closing questions are excerpted from a newly published Advent devotional that I’ve been meditating and tremendously enjoying: Today In A Manger: Revisiting HIS Story. It’s been a simple yet profound walk through the Christmas story in the four Gospels. This mini book holds powerful punch, people.
Enter To Win
BY SUN 12/19/10 Midnight PST.
1. Share a comment to today’s post.
— or –
2. Link up in the Faith Barista Jam found below. Write a post about how you’re unwrapping Jesus (celebrating or discovering Jesus) in the Christmas season and submit the url at the end of today’s post.
(Extra entries if you both link up & comment!)
For more extra entries: Click on the “Share” button at the bottom of today’s post to Facebook or Tweet (use #AdventGiveaway). Leave additional comments letting me know. You’re entered again!
Two computer-generated winners have been randomly selected!
Congratulations to: #8 Monica Sharman & #22 Kristine McGuire.
Thank you to everyone who entered and took the time to share your comments & stories in the jam! Your words make this community a real place of encouragement.
*** NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN — FAITH BARISTA JAM! ***
Faith Barista Jam Thursdays – I serve up a topic of faith, you write the post. Keep faith fresh with a faith prompt and add your voice to this community.
Today’s topic: Your Unwrapping Jesus Discoveries
Share your post by clicking on the blue button below “Add Your Link”. You can also share directly by simply commenting below.
Next Thursday 12/23: Share your Unwrapping Jesus Discoveries —
Keep a lookout for:
*1. Ways to celebrate Christmas simply.
*2. Inspiring moments that fill you with God’s love, joy, peace, or hope.
*3. Encouragement to see Christmas in a new way.
*4. A Fresh Take on the Gift of Jesus.
Approach it any way you feel inspired! Only required ingredient: keep it real. Thanks for serving your personal brews!
Build the Keep Fresh Fresh Community: Link back to Faith Barista or grab this month’s special Christmas Faith Barista Jam Badge to place in your post. Click here.
It’s a jam session. As time allows, say hi & drop a comment when visiting the community faith blends!
* Questions excerpted from Today In A Manger, “Day Five: Leap of Faith” from Ian’s book.
Photo courtesy of artist Decker Walker.