Sunday, May 20, 2007

And now for something completely different...

This week I got an email from a friend who has a great heart for the Jews to hear the Gospel. She included a little Jewish history lesson that completely captivated me. She mentioned that the feast of Shavuot is being celebrated this week. It is also known as the feast of Pentecost, which is what the Jews had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate when the Spirit descended on the believers in Acts 2.

To quote my friend, "This is the holiday when the Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Jews consider this holiday as the birth of them as a nation. Two thousand years ago in Jerusalem crowds of Jews were gathered together to celebrate Shavuot. God chose that day to send His Holy Spirit down on the disciples and thus the church was born."

Is that cool or what? Moses went up Mt. Sinai for the Ten Commandments, and came down glowing, having been face to face with the Lord God. The believers gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate receiving God's word, and He sends His Spirit! And talk about glowing! They start telling everyone--really, "each in his own language"! Whoa.

So why didn't I know this before? Why doesn't the book of Acts make reference to this? Well, it was written to the Jews, so nobody needed to explain to them what the feast of Pentecost was, I guess. Ezekiel prophesied about it: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Ezekiel 36:26-27

Paul references it later, beautifully, in this comparison of the two simultaneous events: "Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day whan Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:7-18

I wonder what other amazing treasures are still veiled in my understanding. Bring them to light, Lord!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Lessons from my garden: Brokenness

There is something I try to remember to tell myself, that I have also begun to tell my kids. Things are not always as they seem. You never know what makes people act the way they do. What broke or spilled or frustrated them this morning. What run in they had with a family member. What illness or difficult circumstances they are dealing with.

This picture reminds me of that. Two identical iris plants. One looks lush, green and healthy. The other looks scrawny, weak and thirsty. But I know why. I divided my irises this year. They were huge, and well developed, so it was time to break them apart at the roots and replant them. The sick looking iris has been broken. The mature looking one in the back was actually the smallest plant in the garden, and looked to me not quite ready to be divided, so I left it alone. The divided ones may not bloom this year. They are busy reestablishing their roots. In time they will be more beautiful and prolific than before.

May people deal with me graciously when I am broken or reestablishing my roots. And may I do the same for them.