13 August 2019

Luke 6: 46-47
You have likely heard of someone celebrating Christmas in July—so think Advent in August for today.
I am sharing a devotional thought I wrote as one of my weekly devotions to a congregation I was serving in 2011.  I begin this Weekly
Blast by sharing it with you as it was originally written in December of 2011 and then I will add some current thoughts. 
Luke 2:7
 “I’m holding Jesus,” says the four-year-old young boy.
It will be next to impossible for me to write this in an email the way my ears heard these words spoken.  You have to imagine the softness of the words as they were spoken, along with the gentleness of holding the baby doll, along with the pure awe and innocence on the little boy’s face.
Last Saturday morning, volunteer men (young and not-so-young) set up the outdoor nativity scene in front of the church---minus the baby in the manger--because the baby is not stored with the other figures, plus I was intending to use the doll later that morning.
Shortly after the men finished setting up the scene,  our second session of the Advent Bible Study got started.  A young couple joins us for this study and while we are in session, their two young children play with the toys in the childcare room.
I had used the nativity’s baby Jesus in the Bible Study and afterward, I made sure Jesus was wrapped securely in his swaddling cloths.  I then asked the two young children to go outside and place Jesus on the straw that was in the manger. 
When I placed the baby Jesus in Brady’s arms, he spoke the words “I’m holding Jesus.”  Never has my heart been warmed in this way.  He was so serious.  He was so-for real.
Yes, the two children are my grandchildren, so you can trust me when I say that this little voice from Brady was not one I had heard before.  It has been truly-- a Holy Moment for me.
Together, he and his sister, Shelby, made their way outside, all the while walking and talking as if they held the most precious treasure in their arms. (They shared Jesus back and forth on the walk to the outdoor nativity scene.)
Carefully and with great reverence they placed the baby in the manger.
I wonder if we can possibly say these same words with such reverence and awe in our hearts this Advent season.  I wonder -- are we “holding Jesus” with gentleness and awe. (?)
Let’s think about it. 
Today’s thoughts---Whether it is the Advent season or the season called Ordinary time—it is always a good and right attitude,  I believe, to hold Jesus in our hearts with gentleness and awe.  Yet, as we know, this same Jesus is the One who challenges us as we find ways to grow in understanding our discipleship.  This same Jesus, who was gently placed in the crib so many years ago by Mary and Joseph, is also the Jesus who came to turn the conventional into the unconventional and to call the hearts of men and women to some radical and, at times, discomforting ways forward for the sake of the Gospel---in ordinary times. 
I do not pretend to even know how Jesus may be challenging you personally in your growth.  I am only secure in saying that I believe we are each challenged today in some way –even as we hold Jesus in our hearts with gentleness and awe. 
I remember well the scene of Brady holding Jesus with such childlike awe and I still pray each day that he will grow to be a person of faith who holds on to Jesus-- just as securely-- in the times when he (Brady) will be challenged to look at something differently—for the sake of the Gospel. 
Summertime blessings to all---Ellen Cleaves

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