Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Precious Words (the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany)

It's been a busy weekend, my sleep patterns have disintegrated at the hands of busy schedules and a lack of routine. So when my mom, the boys and I sat around our table this morning, talking about whether we would make coffee at home or drive to the Dunkin' Donuts close to our house, and I felt this pull towards church, I didn't think too much about it. Would it really matter if I went? Wouldn't God understand that I was tired? 

But the pull got stronger, and so I threw on a dress, some tights and clambered down the stairs, my feet sliding in their shoes, just as mom was about to walk out the door. "I think I'll come with you," I said breathlessly. "Great," she said. "You can read the lessons this morning, because PJ just called and asked one of us to sub for her."

As we drove, I remembered that we are still in the season of Epiphany, when we celebrate this journey the wise men made, when we embark on our own journey into the year. Epiphany matters because it is a time to plant the seeds of the Incarnation deep inside us. Epiphany matters, for our weary hearts need to kneel in front of the good God in the manger and we need to feed on His nearness to us. We need Epiphany so that we remember His nearness when the desert of Lent tempts us to forget, when the ordinary everyday crowds Him out, when the world closes its shutters and the darkness seems too big to overcome.

I walked into the church, grabbed the bulletin, and looked at the lessons.

Jeremiah 29.10 - 14.

Psalm 27. 

2 Corinthians 3.12 - 4.12

In a rush of gratitude, or perhaps of shock, I touched fingers to forehead, and shoulders and heart, as I whispered, You were the one who called me here this morning, weren't you? You were the one who wanted to tell me something? 

My feet slid in their shoes down the aisle towards the altar. I was still me, in the same blue dress, the same unruly hair in a hundred directions around my shoulders, still with these inquisitive eyes and my inability to sit quietly.

Jeremiah 29. 10 - 14. Because it is the LORD who makes the plans. Because His are the plans with hope. Because in the past few weeks, when I have asked him, "Will anyone ever really want me?" His words are: You will seek me, and find me when you come and seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you."

Psalm 27. Because He is the light, the salvation. What then should we fear? And oh, how close I come to losing heart. How close I come to giving up the fight, the struggle for obedience, how close I come to thinking, "It doesn't matter, I just won't bother, who cares?" And His words are: "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord."

2 Corinthians 3.12 - 4.12. Because the truth makes me cry with frustration and joy. Because in the long winter days, when the moon hangs low over the stenciled branches of the trees, I wonder out loud to Him, if these words He's given me are really true? If I should stake my life on them? And His words are: "For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake."

His words hold the particular answer to every particular question. His Spirit tugs us to the Word so that we listen, and remember, and carve into our minds that the Word is alive. It listens to us as we listen to it, loves us as we clamber down stairs and through deserts and across valleys in our attempts to love Him.

Jeremiah 29.10 - 14. Psalm 27. 2 Corinthians 3.12 - 4.12. 

You were the one who called me here this morning, weren't you? You were the one who wanted to tell me something? 

May we have hearts to hear Him.


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