Conversations about “Belonging” as we approach Christmas….offered by LWillows

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This is the most special time of year. I cherish every chance to see holiness. It is everywhere I turn and like the beautiful Christmas trees that I have seen -it branches widely and graciously from the bottom up as well as from the shining star at the top!

Today I returned from a warm gathering of friends, each who described a family Christmas tradition that was most treasured over the years. Later, the theme of “Belonging” came to my heart. This was a new thought for me. I did not have a family near for many years and though I have had many solitary Christmas eves both because of travel and circumstances, I had no common traditions with my friends. Family did not arrive, there was no festivity nor the delight of a home to decorate though I do have wonderful memories.

I reached into the far into the past to offer a tradition from childhood. I think that I jumped 60 years back from the fear of speaking about now and looking like I did not “belong”. I ending up rambling on and on like a lost child. (an orphan vs heir?)

Later that afternoon I was stirred by the word “Belonging” in my heart by Spirit. I knew that I needed to deepen my “family relationship” with Lord Jesus. This was the real hope and joy of all Christmas tradition. If a tradition is a long established custom, then from my own earliest childhood prayers, I desired to know Jesus. Any action that followed that would be the custom. Whoever I was with formed my understanding of belonging.

Now that I am mature, I can re-form and return all of my longings to be with Christ. To me, that is one way of Be-longing to Him. I reach with joy to His Love; it is not far off, it is here.

I am hoping that share this experience with others might offer hope and encouragement especially if as you approach Christmas, you find yourself far from home or desiring to be home, in a distant place, in a season of your life when you are alone or perhaps desiring to create a special reason for coming together to celebrate.

We have every hope to live in Faith, to celebrate, for The Son of God is born in a miraculous and Holy way.

We Belong to God, who formed us with Love, sees us each in every moment of our lives; is so near that He feels each breath before it touches the air. Belonging to him also means that He has redeemed me. I am in His Family. The relentless love that pours upon me is designed to outpour as my cup overflows. His Grace and Mercy moves through us and amongst us. It increases the belonging of The Family of God.

© 2017 Linda Willows

Isaiah 43:1
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

He has called us all by name. We all belong to Him!

I found this article about “Belonging” and enjoy sharing it:

“Belonging”

© 2012 Mark D. Roberts

Psalm 100:3 reminds us that we belong to God. The Common English Bible states: “Know that the LORD is God—he made us; we belong to him.” The Hebrew original of the last phrase can be literally translated, “we are his.” The next part of the verse reinforces this truth by adding, “We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.” Thus, we belong to God because he made us to be his very own people. He continues to watch over us as our good shepherd.

What difference does it make that we belong to God? This simple truth can transform our lives. It can give us profound reassurance of our self-worth. We matter because we belong to the Creator of the universe. The fact that we belong to God also gives order to our lives. We are first and foremost God’s people. Thus, all of our other roles in life must be seen in the light of this primary reality. You may be a lawyer or manager or teacher, but you are first of all one of God’s people. You may be a father or a mother or a friend, but you are first of all one of God’s people. How you live in each of these other roles will be shaped by your primary relationship to God as someone who belongs to him.

Sometimes, when life is hard, or when we’ve turned away from God for an extended season, we can wonder if we still belong to him. The good news of the Gospel is that nothing can ultimately keep us away from God and his love. As it says in Romans 8:38-39, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” This means that nothing, NOTHING, can erase the fact that you belong to God through Jesus Christ. What great news!

The Theology of Work/ The High Calling

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“Propitiation in the Bible”, from Knowing God by J. I. Packer…offered by L.Willows

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Over the past three decades J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God has become a classic of the Christian faith. This excerpt is from the chapter on The Heart of The Gospel and is the first of two parts that will be offered.(pp 180-181). J. I. Packer / wikipedia

Propitiation in the Bible from Knowing God

by J. I. Packer

In the Old Testament, it underlies the prescribed rituals of the sin offering, the guilt offering (“trespass-offering” in the KJV), and the day of atonement (Lev 4:1-6:7; 171-34); also, it finds clear expression in such narratives as that of Numbers 16: 41-60, where God threatens to destroy the people for maligning his judgement on Korah, Dathan and Abiram: “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started.’…So Aaron…made atonement for them…And the plague stopped.” (vv.46-48)

In the New Testament, the propitiation
word group appears in four passages of such transcendent importance that we may well pause to set them out in full.

The first is Paul’s classic statement of the rationale of God’s justification of sinners.

“But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested…even the righteous of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation , through faith, by his blood, to show his righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; for the shewing, I say, of his righteousness at the present season: that he might himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26 RV)

“Sweet Love’s Roar”…from Linda Willows

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Lift off this frame that designs me so
My heart cannot still, it must learn to let go

Allowance may pour through the fount of Love’s door
Yet the fray of dark days sets new fires at the fore.
Pull out through the flames lest none but Thy Light
May bring You close; find my heart in the night.

Lift my heart’s name that resigns me so
I cannot let will be alone in such tow.

Come mark my tent with your sacred Love’s pour
Call me out. O, let Life in. I hear the waves of its’ sweet love’s roar.
Bless every year, every tear that let go.
God take the frame, for this Heart is aglow.

©2016 republish Linda Willows © 2012 Linda Willows

Psalm 145:14
The LORD sustains all who fall And raises up all who are bowed down.

“Love casts us to Prayer, to worship Our King”….a worship poem by Linda Willows

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Worship is dancing to the Face I adore,
A rapture of seeking, a heart’s joyful implore.
Spilling the melodies of the prayers of Love’s kind,
Oh Lord, I motion with my Heart’s full unwind.

This, but to You Lord, for no other would know,
How fully and deeply my heart’s crevice goes.
Unlike an earthly carved place of Love’s meet,
It winds all the way into this ancient heart’s beat.

Worship is apart like one precious pearls’ shine
It glints like a thousand stars blinking in time.
Gesturing, healing, heralding heavens to sing…
Love casts us to prayer, to worship Our King.

© 2017 Linda Willows

“Lament from the Night breaking…in the curve of a tear”, from L.Willows

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In a an ongoing group class discussion about deep heart healing, we were each challenged to write a Lament. (Leaders; Dorothy Taft and Pastor Chris Sicks of Alexandria Presbyterian Church). When I received the assignment I felt that it was “too large”!. 

A few days later, I woke in the night, was awake for many hours and this was the outcome…

The structure of a lament is to “address”, offer the “complaint”, make the “request”, then express “trust”. It is a deeply beautiful and complex part of the bible worthy of examination and rich study. There are many worthy online resources for learning about Lamentations but I found this site for you in case you would like to study further…Structure of a Lament; Understanding the Lament Psalms

Lament from Night Breaking…In the curve of a tear
by Linda Willows

O Father, hear me in the early break of day
For the night was so weary,
And I called out to You
Every hour I woke in the dark of long hours.
I twisted and turned and groaned in weak cries.
I called for your help to lift out the pain. Again, I called Lord.
Again and again. Sore and hopeless I hoped you would help me.

But worsening pain struck as if I was thrust by many fierce swords
Aimed to target my most vulnerable bends.
Lord, you know that I have known thousands of nights that erupted this way…
And prayed to You with all that I am, was, and surrendered.
Why have I been left like this alone and fractured. What is your purpose in this?
How can suffering alone in the night and day casting years into my frame and heart have meaning that would glorify you?

You are the only witness. You put me in this field night and day, year and decade. What does the time mean to you as I serve it. Help me to understand Father.
When You answer me, give me wisdom with patience.

This, my God, is like a field that I tend,
Without knowing why or who planted such a seed.
Night and day, I have called to You.
Years upon years, I have prayed without end. Hope is no longer in this world, Father. I open the door and see a world that others live in; that I only can partially enter. I remember it’s joys and marvels, the beauty and the wonders of what Life can bring to your doorstep.

I have seen Your Face of Love
I have witnessed Your saints in the cloud here above.
All gather near with grace and abound.
With such Holiness near, how can such suffering remain Father?
What purpose is pain in the body of me?
Would it serve to crush me like a thousand small rocks?
Or roll me out to become like low grasses?
How does it help to let me lie like a sheet day and night?
A life, leveled to the earth’s ashes, before the heart and mind would rise?

You, Lord have made me from beginning to evermore.
Father, you designed my soul and planted your own Spirit within me.
Your Love lights the Lantern that burns brightly before me even in the darkest night.
You are there when I call out. You hear my faintest whisper.
Lord, the breadth and depth of mortal suffering is so much greater than my own
And Your heart reaches to all for You know our pain.
You have promised a Day when we will live and rise with only Love and Freedom.

But, my spirit cries out with more the pain of more than my body, Father,
It aches of this life.
It aches of my persistence, of the exceeding loss that accelerates,
and of a weariness that distances me from the living.
My spirit longs for the mercy of being tendered with kindness.
Did you forget me when you scripted this one’s mortal destiny? What end, Father…

Hear me because I know that You love me.
Oh Lord, hear me because I know that You have formed me.
Hear me because Your Will is sovereign and good and near to all that suffer.
Comfort me Father because I have seen your Face and have felt the touch of Your Might.
Intercede in my distress because you know all of my heart even before I whisper to you.
Increase my faith and send messages of hope to me on the Wings of Your Spirit.
Let me feel You carrying me and lifting me above the weight of mortal pain.
May the Might of Your Arm hold me with Peace and Comfort, for I know that you are Near.

Father, I love you in the darkest hours and seek you. You always Find me.
If tears are the way that you have designed me to see clearly, then wash me in them.
For I would want to see you and be with you more than with any other.

Thank you Father, for the sight of You through the curve of a tear.
Rain them upon me until I see. Wash me until I am free.

But Lord, for an hour, or a day if it is your Will
May I know a life’s favor from You?
Just for some moments, to live as others do.

Oh but wait Father, I ask Your reverse,
This is no matter-there is no plead.

You are the All of this moment’s Holy poise
The rapture that lives far beyond mortal noise…
Wrap all of my prayers in your shelter of Love
And I would be joyed here, content as above.
No wanting remains or asking of needs…
Oh Father, let the wash of Your Grace find me Freed.

© 2017 sept. Linda Willows