Feeling Frayed? Me too. That’s Why We Need Advent

We still wander awed, says Annie Dillard, because this world is dear. And the people in it are beloved. We were made for this word, even in its splintered state. As we take in the ravages of our frayed and nibbled state, we don’t long for an ending. No, we long for renewal.

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When Weaving Becomes a Lens for Seeing Life

We cannot escape the reality that our identity—the fabric of our being—is very much made up by those who are woven into our lives. And many of the threads knit into us are not those we choose, but those that are given.

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A View from Way Up High: Summer with Ezekiel & Jeremiah

I’ve been reading back and forth between Ezekiel and Jeremiah—two prophets that I’m pretty sure had the most unenviable jobs in the world. God called them to speak words that no one in their day really wanted to hear. Worse still, he called them to deliver divine messages in ways that were bound to offend pretty much everyone. But God also gave them something extraordinary—he gave them a birds-eye view, or more precisely, he gave them a heavenly view.

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Lamentations & the Steadfast Love of the Lord

I glance over and see my four-year-old daughter sitting on the couch. Still in her pajamas, she’s coloring happily, a spray of multi-hued markers in reach of her right hand. She’s healthy, she’s safe, she’s here with me. Glancing over to my computer screen I gaze at a photograph of a four-year-old girl in a…

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Will We Eat and be Satisfied?

Five barley loaves and two fish—not much to feed more than 5,000 hungry people. But in Jesus’s hands not enough is transformed into abundance. Not enough, it turns out, is more than enough. The feeding of a crowd of 5,000 men, along with women and children, is the only one of Jesus’s miracles other than…

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When a Blessing Breaks Your Heart

“Blessed are you among women, ” Elizabeth ecstatically exclaimed to Mary, but I wonder. In the run up to Christmas this year, I’ve been thinking about Mary, about her experience of motherhood, about what it means to say that she was “blessed among women.” How could a mother who would one day witness the suffering…

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From Curse to Blessing: How grace gets the last word

“The last word of the Old Testament is ‘curse’ (Mal. 4:6), and it is meaningful that the opening sermon of our Lord’s ministry commences with the word ‘Blessed.’” —Charles Spurgeon   “What have you got in here?” I ask my son, slinging his backpack over my shoulder. “Did you fill your bag with rocks?” He’s…

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A Blessing for Resting and Waking

May you sleep in the shelter of the shadow of God’s wings, May you wake in the light of his love For a little more than a year I’ve been praying this blessing over my kids just before they drift off to sleep. I turn out the lights, sit on the edge of the bed,…

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Emotional Women: Grief Contained and Grief Exposed at Santa Maria della Vita

Mary Magdalene has a reputation for being emotional, if not unstable. Meanwhile Mary the mother of Jesus is usually depicted as supernaturally composed, her emotion perfectly contained beneath a serene expression. She’s not human; she’s all saint. Reflecting on a set of terracotta sculptures in Bologna and a Dorothy Sayer’s play, I consider how we can move from caricature to complexity in our understanding of these two women.

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Gardener or God? An extraordinary case of mistaken identity

Gardening isn’t an activity I typically associate with Jesus. But when Mary first encountered Jesus outside the empty tomb, she supposed he was the gardener. Is this strange case of mistaken identity accidental, or is there symbolic meaning that we shouldn’t miss?

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