Call to Worship: The Prodigal’s Joy

I’ve been learning about joy, about joy in God, the kind of joy that comes from God. I don’t mean happiness but a real joy that transcends circumstances. God has been teaching me about himself and the relationship He wants to have with me, about the kind of interactions and conversations He wants to have with me.

A few weeks ago I was in a moment, in a place where I just wanted to enjoy the moment and I just wanted to spend it soaking up all of Gods presence I could. For some reason, I felt that I kept missing it or couldn’t let go.  So I just began to shed off, name all off the stuff,  that I was dragging into this perfect moment. There were so many anxieties, regrets, inadequacies, and insecurities that I stopped counting.

I realize now that I spend so much of my time either thinking about my past or my future. I am usually either tangled up in regrets or in the throws of anxiety. Instead of relishing the present I am rehashing my mistakes, beating myself up for what could’ve been or be fretting about what I should be instead, what might happen, where I am not enough. I was missing the opportunity, the invitation for joy that God was extending me so many times during my day. I couldn’t just stay in the present for a moment because I was too busy being discontent and critical.

But God is calling to us, waiting for us. He wants to show us how much He enjoys us, enjoys spending time with us when we let our hearts be open and vulnerable to Him. When our guards go down and our strivings, anxieties cease to take precedence in our mind, there we can find joy, can find God waiting to embrace us. There we find our Father waiting to rejoice, celebrate with us. I am the prodigal. And I need to daily embrace the father who is standing with open arms, waiting to celebrate the love He has for me.

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Mary and Her Baby

Look at my baby boy. So tiny, so new. His skin is so soft. His dark eyelashes are so long, just laying there against his cheeks. Joseph was so excited, so in love with him. When he held his little hand, those tiny fingers curved around and grasped onto his finger. I could see the tears in his eyes. My heart was so full with the love I felt for them both. I felt so much love but also some relief. I didn’t realize that I was almost holding my breath until that moment. The last few months have been so hard on both of us. I was so scared Joseph wouldn’t love this baby that is not his own. But Joseph has been so good to me, so kind and caring. I never should’ve doubted God but I did. here I am a virgin carrying the son of God in my womb – and I doubted He would be able to turn my husbands heart to love this precious baby. The angel appeared to me to tell me Gods plan for His son to come. It seemed too much, too crazy. Yet here was the messenger of God appearing to me  saying it was to be so. All of my doubts, all of my fears, my disbelief, it was overwhelming.  The sad, pitying looks of others, of even Joseph nearly broke me. I felt rejected, scorned, and condemned- but then the angel appeared to Joseph too.  And we were married. It was still hard. People said such cruel things to us. Then the baby – we could see him growing, feel his kicks see him moving. I just don’t think we could truly comprehend that the son of god was a tiny baby growing and developing inside of me. I am no one special. We are from no where special. And to think that our holy God, this part of the creator of everything became a small baby, to be born this way. He grew inside of me Joseph keeps apologizing for the hay and the animals and the smell. But honestly it doesn’t matter anymore. Look at my baby. He is so beautiful. The angel said he is to be the the messiah, the redeemer, the savior. I don’t know how that will be or why he needed to send his son into the world this way. But I am looking at this perfect little baby in my arms and know that I am looking  at the face of god, a miracle who already has my heart.

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The Artist Prayer

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” -Hebrews 12:28-29

You will be here.

When I take the stage, when we come together it will be great!

How can it not?

Because it is what I was created to do. On every level. Not just as an artist, a minor creator- but every level of me was made, created to bring glory to you! My purpose is to worship and bring glory back to you.

There is no nervousness, no fear, only anticipation! Glorious anticipation-

and these small bodies are not designed to contain all that you are.

You placed inside of me on my rebirth, a piece of you, a piece of divinity, a piece of the power and wonder that created the universe, that created life!! That defeated death…

Perfection housed inside of imperfection. It is like a jar trying to hold the power and volume of the ocean. A paper box trying to hold the fire and intensity of the sun. We will leak and break.

And if we are blessed, if we let go we will explode into brightness with the power of who you are.

I was made to bring glory to you. Like a glittering gem in the crown of the king-

and like jewels on a beautiful woman I cannot add to your beauty, Father, only draw attention to it.

But you will come today. You will take my offering and you will delight in it. My heart will never be pure this side of heaven- but for this moment in time you will be reflected inside of me, as I celebrate who you are! As I bring glory to you, worship and honor to you. Because when I am being who I was made to be, you will always come to me and be who you are.

Thank you Father for making me your vessel. Let me ride the anticipation and savor the electricity that tenses my muscles and threatens to drive me wild. It is only a sign and a reminder of what is to come when one day I receive a body that is made in perfection to praise you. Come with me and let me now glorify you. Delight in me Father. Amen!

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Call to Worship

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 1:10

Overwhelm me, God.

Fill my lungs with your breath, infuse me with life.

Fill my mind with your thoughts, so I think as you do.

Fill my eyes with your vision, show me what you see.

Fill my heart with your love, let it spill out and drown me.

Take me in my refuse state, take me apart. Break me, press me, mold me, shape me into your creation. Change me into a place worthy for the indwelling of your spirit.

Create a vessel that shows your handiwork, that reveals your touch.

Leave your maker”s mark upon me.

Teach me to worship you. Teach me to love you. Teach me how to live in your grace, how to walk with your hope.

Grant me the firm faith in your words, and the steady assurance of your promises.

Make your undeserved, freely given, unending, all-consuming, all knowing, ever present, transforming love the song on my lips, the fire in my heart, the very reason I live.

This day. Every day. Amen

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Mary, after his death

Have you heard? He is alive! My Jesus is alive! Words cannot express how I feel. Just two days ago it seemed that all hope, all life was gone. I have mourned my precious Lord for two long days. But this morning, this very morning I saw him. He spoke to me! To me!! He could have appeared to anyone- to Kings or any of his disciples. But he chose to reveal himself to me.

This morning when we went to the tomb to anoint him one last time it was a scene of such confusion. The tomb shouldn’t have been open. Inside was a young man. He must have been an angel. I was so afraid. Who am I to be in the presence of an angel? And we bowed and wept in fear, in awe. And he asked us why we were seeking the living among the dead. I didn’t understand. But his next words pierced my confusion. He said Jesus has risen just as he had told us He would. He said Jesus was alive, not dead any longer! We had forgotten in our grief that Jesus had told us That this would happen. Don’t you see!!! It was true. Our small minds had refused to believe. We had seen such horror, such hell in the death of our Lord and lost all hope. My heart had been broken when I saw him die. I had lost hope. But with those words, life was breathed back into my heart. And I ran, stumbling and sobbing with joy, with relief and with guilt that I couldn’t see him for everything he was before.

And then he showed himself to me. And I knew it was him when he said my name when I looked in his eyes and saw the way he had always looked at me. When I am with him I know how unworthy I am to be in his presence yet he makes me feel as if he has been waiting for me to appear. I wanted to cling to him, to cry out my grief and sorrow. I choked on the words, and I was caught in my own whirlwind of emotions. I didn’t know whether to move, to speak out of grief or tremendous celebration. And honestly, I just couldn’t understand how this could happen. He was dead! And now my beautiful Jesus, my Lord, my love was standing here before me, beautiful and radiant. And he spoke to me, Mary, once a whore, delivered from demons. Jesus, who has the power to defeat death is standing before me. He told me to go and tell the others. I didn’t want to leave him but I could not refuse. I had to tell Peter and John! I ran, ragged breath, tears blinding me as I ran. My heart was pounding in my ears, “he is alive! He is alive!”

I followed this man from place to place! He loved me, healed me and delivered me! I watched as he spoke to the powerful, the broken, the poor and the unloveable. I watched as he cherished the outcasts and the misfits. I watched as he chose his disciples from the lowliest of our people. And I watched as the most pious and religious of our people rejected him. I had seen his greatness in my own life every day when he looked at me with such compassion and tenderness. He had loved me when everyone else would only spit on me, calling me names kicking their filth on me as they walked by. And yet I had not understood really who he was. I didn’t know that I had been looked upon by the son of God, had been loved by righteousness. And now I know. And everyone else has to know! We have to celebrate to tell everyone about Jesus!

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