Blog

Update: Logan Lawrence, Easter in Nepal

Nepal

My blog is in reverse chronological order.

If you have any questions or would like to contact me for any reason you can do so by emailing me at llawrence1017@gmail.com

04/11/2017 – 04/16/2017

The night before Easter I was staying at Silas’ family’s house with Amit, although Silas had left to go home for America last Monday, Amit was gracious enough to offer me a place to stay when I visited their church Saturday. They told me that their church was waking up and meeting at 5:30 Easter morning, and that we would be meeting with some other church branches in the morning at a park in central Kathmandu. I had heard that Silas had a few other churches in the valley, so I was excited to meet them.

In Nepal, you don’t move out of your parents house when you get married, the wife moves in with the family. Amit’s house is four stories, and houses 15 people. Him, his wife, his sister, his mother, his uncle, and many of his cousins. The bottom floor has three rooms full of bunkbeds where the kids stay, and there are maybe 8 of them. There is also a guest room where I am staying. It’s really cool.

DSC04934
Early morning church gathering

Early Easter morning I walked with the kids to church, which is a twenty or thirty minute walk. We arrived to meet the rest of the church members, and then had boiled eggs, bread and tea for an early breakfast snack.

At about 7 we gathered into a line and I saw that we would be carrying a banner with our church’s name, and they began singing and dancing as we marched through the alleys of the neighborhood towards Kathmandu. People stared from their balconies and their yard in amazement to watch the commotion.

DSC04941
Walking and singing

After a while of singing and dancing as we walked, another church joined us from behind, with their own banner. It was really cool. They also sang and danced.

Then another crowd of Nepali Christians joined us from behind making us into quite a large group. I was really excited to see all the Nepali’s singing and dancing because I wasn’t expecting there to be so many of us.

DSC04944
We are joined by two more banners

Then we ran into another crowd that was five times as big as ours, and we all attempted to walk in neat lines as to not disturb traffic. I realized that this wasn’t going to be a small gathering.

As we approached a major roundabout I saw from the right an infinite line of banners and people merging with our group. I couldn’t see the front of our line, and had no idea how far it stretched, either in front or behind. The streets of the city were full of Christians singing, dancing, and proclaiming Jesus. Everyone near the crowds had gospel literature in their hands, and some looked like they were reading it out of curiosity. Others had blank faces.

DSC04956
The line stretched as far as I could see in either direction

Every round about we came to had Christians marching from every direction to merge with our line. All the streets in Kathmandu must have been full of Christians who were marching. We walked for about two hours like this. As we approached the heart of the city from the Southwest, lines from the Southeast and Northwest merged all merged into a massive line in the Northeast quadrant, and we marched into a large space where a stage was set, and thousands had already gathered.

DSC04963
The crowd was this thick in all directions

In all, once everyone arrived, the number of Christians was several thousand. This video was taken right when I arrived, and people were still pouring in throughout the city. The whole space was nearly shoulder to shoulder, with all of the empty spaces being filled.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qN2uaXehJao?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

Nepali Christians are about 1.4% of the population, but are one of the fastest growing Christian communities in the world.

DSC04972
A church of Nepali’s that dressed in their ethnic clothes for the gathering

At around 10:00 some of the crowds dispersed, but it went strong until noon when the program ended. The crowds were full of dancing, singing, and happy Nepali people, glad that Jesus has risen. It was the most emotional, overwhelming, amazing, inspiring moment of my life.

DSC04975
A bit past noon after everyone left. I couldn’t get this shot while the event was going on because the crowds were too intense. This whole field all the way back to the far buildings was packed.

I walked to a book store and picked up a more comprehensive dictionary, and a book of Nepali folk tales. I then walked to rest at a coffee shop because I had been walking or standing for like 9 hours already by 2pm. I then walked to meet the church at the Bible College at 3:30, and their church was packed full, and overflowing. Many of the Nepali’s who came for church had never heard the Gospel.

I fellowshipped for a while afterwards and got to know the guy who started the bible college. I’m really glad to have met these people and am sure I will run into them in the future.

DSC04932
Kathmandu ‘suburbs’ landscape

I caught a packed local bus back to Amit’s house and am trying to find out what to do on my last two days here.

I wanted to start off this post with Easter, but I skipped a few days which I will briefly summarize. I left Pokhara Thursday, which happened to be the Nepali new year’s eve. Kathmandu was quite busy for new years. I stayed at a super cheap hostel for the first two nights, on Friday I visited the bible college for a Good Friday Service, then on Saturday I visited Amit and Silas’ church in Bagdol, which is how I was invited to stay with them. I also visited the bible college again for their Saturday service. It has been a busy time.

The Sorrowful Song of the Mother and Child

Image: By Akseli Gallen-Kallela – www.kalela.net, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=152707

In this third week of Advent we are focusing on the third of the seven last words of Jesus from the cross–“Woman behold your son . . . behold your mother.” I’ve reposted this piece that I wrote in 2012, when considering the death of my mother in a larger backdrop of mothers and sons, and of Mary and Jesus.  Blessings, Pastor Ken 

One of the most moving, haunting pieces of music I have every encountered is Harmon Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony: Three Sorrowful Songs.  It is one of the songs that I routinely listen to while reading and preparing sermons.  I’m very particular about what music I can listen to while I study—it must be non-invasive to my thinking, and yet provide a gentle screen to keep out the street-noise that is almost a constant in my downtown neighborhood.  The three movements are equally poignant and passionate explorations of maternal relationship, as Gorecki himself said, “…the ties between mother and child.”

The first movement describes Mary’s anguish at the death of Jesus.

The second movement has a particularly fascinating origin.  Its words were found etched onto a wall of a Gestapo jail in Poland.  An eighteen year-old girl wrote:  “O Mamo nie płacz nie—Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie (“Oh Mamma do not cry—Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always”).  Gorecki himself visited the jail, read the inscribed plea, and was understandably moved. Surrounded by etchings in the plaster calling for justice, revenge, and divine intervention—written presumably by adult prisoners, the composer noted the girl “…does not despair, does not cry, and does not scream for revenge. She does not think about herself; whether she deserves her fate or not. Instead, she only thinks about her mother: because it is her mother who will experience true despair. This inscription was something extraordinary. And it really fascinated me” he later explained in an interview.

The third movement describes the heartache of a mother searching for her son, who has been killed in battle.   Its roots are found in a folktale from the Silesian Wars between Poland and Austria in the 1700’s.  All of the movements are somber, complex—and, to me, comforting.

I think we all have some background music in our souls.  These songs and pieces are like lodgers that show up asking for a place to stay for the night, but soon make it very clear that they should really move in for good.  Gorecki’s Three Sorrowful Songs symphony moved in to my soul—but didn’t stand out from the other music there until winter of 2011.

It was the season of Advent. I was preparing my sermons for the coming weeks—and especially wanted to focus on Mary and Joseph, the earthly parents of the Holy Child. I had researched Gorecki’s piece enough to know that it spoke of the theme of mothers and their children, and in one movement spoke of Mary and Jesus.  It formed a low-level soundtrack to my preparation of the sermons, playing for hours as I sat at my desk working.  Often, as the biblical text and the music intertwined, I found myself sitting at my desk in tears evoked simply by the pathos of the piece as it seemed to pour over and meld with the gentle, soon to become tragic story of the young virgin bearing a child, and hearing that the events of the child’s life would one day comprise a sword that would pierce her own soul.  These tears were the first of many that would flow in the coming months, for another movement, this one in my life, began at that time.
“Your sister called.  The hospital just called and told your Mom they want her to come in—now—for an MRI.” 

“Right away?” I asked. “Without an appointment?”

“Yes. They’re there now, alone.”

I drove immediately to the hospital, where my folks sat in the waiting area of the Magnetic Imaging Department.  They were nervous, not so much because of the need for an MRI.  Such a diagnostic tool is likely used on everyone with suspected gallbladder troubles, which is what had brought my mother to her doctor’s office just a few days earlier.  It was the “Come in this morning” part that they found troubling; for once a person reaches their seventies the assumed certainties of health and wellness begin to show small cracks and chips.  Appointments are made for MRI’s—not sudden phone-calls, “Come in this morning”!

At the time, they didn’t know what would be found, but in the ensuing weeks it would be confirmed that my mother had pancreatic cancer.

As the dust settled, and the future began to form into a much different shape than any of our family would have imagined, I found myself sitting at my desk, continuing to work on Advent messages, particularly those with emphases on the Holy Family, with Gorecki’s symphony gently, quietly playing in the background—and would simply, suddenly, begin to weep.  Mary and Jesus.  Mothers and sons.  An 18-year old daughter in a Gestapo jail.  “O Mamo.”

“Queen of Heaven.”

Mom.

“They called.”

O Mamo.

“This morning, come in.”

“Tests.”

“They found something.”

My mother.  My mother.

Mom.

So, the haunting, intertwining accounts of mothers and sons, and mothers and daughters suffering the loss of each other melds into one ache seated in the deepest, rarely disturbed chambers of my soul.  And despite the kindnesses of others, and the hope of faith—the faint, barely discernible echoes of loss and separation keep tapping at my soul like moths rustling against a lampshade after the light has been turned off.

When Jesus hung on a cross, His body in the final death throes of crucifixion—He looked at His own mother, Mary.  His sunken eyes then fell upon a friend, John.

“Woman, behold your son.”  And to John “Behold, your mother.”  Christian tradition tells of the apostle then taking Mary into his own family, and caring for her until her death.  To the end, mothers and their sons, mothers and their daughters.

“Mom, behold your Jesus.”

“Jesus, behold my mother.”

O Mamo.

For my mother, Judy Garrett (March 23, 1939-June 13, 2012)

 

 

 

Grace in Three Parts, part three

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

 

Part Three: Grace Creates Christian Assurance

…but the grace of God with me. 

The third aspect of the grace of God in this verse is that of a relationship. The word “with” in the original language is a preposition that one scholar has called the “aristocrat among all the prepositions” because it is so rarely found in the New Testament (Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament).  It suggests closeness, partnership, assistance, and sharing. The grace that provided Paul a way to view his past, to understand his calling in ministry, and empowered him to expend enormous effort in his ministry was also a grace that stayed with him, deeply embedded in his soul. It was therefore a source of great confidence and assurance to Paul, knowing that the grace of God, the source of such magnificent power and security, was indeed a partner with Paul in his ministry of service to the churches of the Lord Jesus. The presence of this grace is described in a relational sense—as if a lifelong partner that could always be counted on to be present in life, and powerfully engaged in the ministry Paul did.

Grace works the same in my life, and the life of every follower of Jesus. I can count on it to be there through thick and thin, through difficulties, through days of clarity and inspiration (rare as they seem!) and the long, lonely, nights that regularly follow. Grace will not leave, and will provide the enabling power needed to accomplish every good thing, along with the emotional, spiritual assurance that I regularly crave as I make my way through this life.  As I reflect on this role of grace in our lives, it seems to me that our biggest challenge is our not uncertainty as to whether or not a thing called “grace” exists from God, for us. Rather, the challenge seems instead to be our hesitancy in actually choosing to act as if we believe we possess such a thing as grace. Further, we are challenged to live in confidence that the grace we possess will truly be as wonderful, permanent, and powerful to us as it was for Paul the apostle, who threw himself headlong into a life of ministry and service, confident that the grace of God would see him through. The very nature of grace is that it is powerful, and permanent, and actually re-creative of our lives.

Is there any reason for you and I to fear that such grace could fail us in our day of need?

Grace in Three Parts, part two

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10) Part Two: Grace Invites Christian Service …His grace toward me did not prove […]

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Part Two: Grace Invites Christian Service

…His grace toward me did not prove vain, but I labored even more than all of them… 

The second effect of the grace of God that Paul cites in 1 Corinthians 15:10 is an invitation to hard, sacrificial service to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul says that he’d worked hard in his ministry of apostleship. The word he used, labor, also described the exhaustion of fishermen after a long night of hauling in nets, or the bone-dry weariness of a traveler who had walked a long distance without food and water. Paul writes that had he not labored harder than even his fellow apostles had, then God’s grace would have been emptied of its power and effect. It would have become a failed endeavor. Grace, according to this verse, is diminished if it is not met with a wholehearted, engaged, life of service.

Grace invites us to the same sacrificial, lifelong service to our Lord Jesus. I don’t have the insight to know if I work harder than any other Christian does in ministry (in fact, I think I can safely guarantee that I don’t!), but the grace of God calls me to work hard. It falls short of its purpose, at least as far as I am to experience it, when I do not use it to lead me to a life of a deeper, more robust engagement in whatever works of ministry He sends my way. Grace is not given to us to make us a well-rested, safer, more common-sense people. No, in its giving comes a calling, opportunity, and empowerment to live in a deeper commitment of service to the Lord, to His beloved people, and to all the world.

Grace in Three Parts, part one

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Part One: Grace Forms Christian Identity

…by the grace of God I am what I am…

In the fifteenth chapter of his first letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth, Paul writes concerning the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, including its historicity (vv 1-11), theological implications (vv 12-57), and practical application (v 58).  In verse 10 Paul concludes his defense of his own role as a witness to the resurrected Christ, and gives an explanation of how he, a former persecutor of the church, was granted apostleship in the administration and establishment of the very religion he’d done so to destroy younger years. It is notable that the word grace appears three times in this one verse–the most appearances of the word in one sentence in the New Testament. I believe by its very repetition and use in Paul’s argument, three powerful truths surface about the magnificent grace of God—something that all believers experience to this day.

First, I see that the grace of God shapes my identity as a Christian. Paul simply stated that by the grace of God “I am what I am.” A look at the verses preceding reveals that what Paul was—was not very pretty. He had attacked the church of God, administrating over the mob-execution of Stephen, storming into the homes of Christians to arrest and imprison them, and “breathing threats and murder,” obtained official permission to travel to foreign jurisdictions to identify, arrest, and extradite Christians to Jerusalem for trial and punishment (Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-30). Paul clearly included the who he was in those horrible days in his past with who he was as he wrote to the Corinthians as an experienced, beloved apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the thing that Paul named as tying those two, seeming antithetical identities together was the very grace of God. The grace of God is that manner of God’s treatment of His children that somehow creates beauty by including their most horrid, monstrous failures in life, folding their sins into a new narrative in such a way that they become the material of something beautiful, lasting, and changed. The grace of God in our lives redeems our lives for something good. In Paul’s case, that grace allowed him to fully face and embrace his past—knowing that by God’s grace, he need not fear or deny the things he’d done and said.

The grace of God in our lives today invites us to fearlessly look back at our lives and own who we were. Then, we can truly understand who we are through that grace. Grace has the power to shape our self-understanding, our identity, and gives us a lens through which we can view the past without being destroyed or driven to despondency by it.

Christmas Eve: Our Light Has Come

Every Sunday this month we lit a new Advent candle in our morning service. Each candle represented a different facet of the Good News of Christmas: HOPE, FAITH, JOY and LOVE. Through Scripture reading on Sundays and reflections on this blog, we spent time renewing our confidence in the fulfillment of God’s promises because we believe he always does what he says. We joyfully celebrated the love that brought Jesus into the middle of our stories. Tonight we will light the Christ candle and celebrate the central figure of all history.

May you worship the King Jesus, the reason for our hope, faith, joy and love. He came once and he is coming again! He is supreme over all, our Prince of Peace, and the brilliant Light of our World!

Merry Christmas!

Christ Is Supreme
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Colossians 1:15-22 (NLT)

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Love is Here

By Fiona, age 5

Advent Love

Hi, my name is Fiona. We are all counting up to the day Jesus comes. This week’s candle is Love. God’s son is coming. We celebrate Jesus’s birth but guess what! He is already here! But we just celebrate that Jesus came into our lives. God’s son died on the cross instead of us. He died for our sins because he loved us. He still does love us.

The End

Love Fiona

The Radiance of God’s Glory

By Jackie Bailey

Because of what he has suffered, God says…my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.  I will give him the honor of one who is mighty and great because he bore the sins of mankind. (Isaiah 53:11-12 NLT)

When I think about Christmas, I envision the birth of a sweet baby born in the humble surroundings of a picturesque stable in the quaint little town of Bethlehem.  I picture chubby cherubs heralding angelic joy surrounding the birth of the Savior.  That being said, I don’t often reflect on the real reason of Christmas–the rescue of humanity!  

This miraculous event we call Christmas was God’s dramatic rescue to reach down to us to restore all that was lost and broken in the Garden.  He sent His Son to all humanity to restore face-to-face intimacy with us, and to re-establish communion with all creation that had been wrecked and ruined in the Fall. The lengths that He went to in order to rescue us are astounding when you let it sink in that the God of the Universe descended upon a young girl and placed Himself inside her womb to birth the God-Man, who “became flesh and blood and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14 NIV.)  

Amazingly, this tiny baby was the fulfillment of a long-awaited prophecy of a Savior who would arrive among us, mere mortals, to extend mercy and grace, restoration and peace. All of Israel knew of Him and anticipated His coming, yet the long-awaited Messiah was born in obscurity. He entered a world that had no room for Him; not even a warm, clean place could be found to birth the Savior into the world that He, Himself, had created.   

What a dichotomy–from the beauty and magnificence of the Glory of Heaven to an impoverished, filthy stable.  What a contrast–the baby born into impoverished circumstances was the long-awaited answer, the Messiah, “the Son, the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Heb. 1:3.)  

With the arrival of this Son, there was no longer a need for mediators, judges, priests and prophets to stand in the gap between God and man. This tiny baby offered Himself as “the door, the gate that whoever enters through Him will be saved.” (John 10:9) God’s desire to restore relationship with us was so profound, and the devastation and consequences of sin so intense, that this baby would sacrifice Himself to “take up our pain and bear our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us…it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him…our sins!  He took the punishment and that act made us whole.  Through his bruises we are healed.”  (Isaiah 53:4-5 Msg.)   

So when I think about the Christmas season and what the birth of this tiny baby, Jesus, means to me and all of mankind, I contemplate the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of His Sacred Being found in the Christ Child.   I envision a tiny Baby bursting forth at delivery: fists clenched, ready to fight for righteousness, bloody with the pain of mankind–and with a cry deep from His Holy belly he declares that the Kingdom of God has arrived and is among us, and he is ready to battle against all that was lost in the fall!

Third Sunday of Advent: Good News of Great Joy

I bring you good news of great joy!

Early on in Genesis, we see how the creation that God loved so fully fell so quickly. Just pages into the story we were in need of His total rescue. On the one hand, it seems like the Father was slow to act. He did not bring about deliverance for many long years. But in contrast to this seeming delay, we also see how quickly God pointed to a coming Son, the one who would restore the brokenness of our fall. God revealed glimpses of the promise to Abraham; he spoke of the anticipated redemption through His prophets. He did not leave His people without hope.

So, after those thousands of years waiting for the fulfillment of the promised Savior, who did the Father choose to reveal the miraculous news to? We might expect a special declaration to have been made to Cesar Augustus, ruler of the then-known world. Or at least it would be revealed to some locally significant leader, say Herod. After all, wouldn’t it be best for the most important people to know so that they could spread the news? But no, this joyous news was first proclaimed to shepherds living and working in nearby fields.

Notice that this was not some accidental delivery. The angel specifically says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” The angel went on to give the shepherds specific instructions as to where they would find this Savior.

How incredible that our Father saw fit to entrust this wonderful news first with a group of people whom the rest of society did not even socialize with. A group of outsiders! Perhaps the shepherds were the most prepared to receive this unbelievable proclamation of good news. In looking back through God’s interaction with His people, he often chose shepherds after all. Moses was tending sheep when God met him at the burning bush. David was anointed king of Israel while watching his father’s flocks. How encouraging for those of us with “secular” occupations!

Notice the response of the shepherds to this celestial visitation. Once the angels departed, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Not if this thing has happened. They believed immediately and acted on this belief. These men who were poor in terms of the world’s riches had been entrusted with history’s greatest angelic declaration.

The great Joy, the long awaited Savior, the one that the prophets pointed to was here! And where were they told they would find Him? On his crib-throne in the fanciest home in Bethlehem? No, out in a barn. But even in this hour of Christ’s great humbling, His Father saw fit that Jesus’ birth be attended by a multitude of heavenly hosts.

The Son of God taking on flesh and bones, this arrival of Immanuel, marks that pivotal moment in history when men no longer walked in darkness. The Light of Life had come, that through Him all may believe.

Waiting for Restoration

finger paints

Every day my children move from one imaginative endeavor to the next, transforming junk mail and paint, or old blankets and empty boxes into works of art. The sheer pleasure they take in reimagining purpose for my discarded scraps deepens my love for the generous, joy-filled Creator whom they reflect.

When God first spoke life into existence, he didn’t do it all at once. Instead, he named each piece of his imagination into reality. He was especially thrilled with the people he created. God took dirt one day, and a rib bone the other, and he reimagined a purpose for them by making them a man and a woman in his own likeness. He transformed these insignificant materials with his very breath, and he graced them with an identity and a purpose.

But the tragedy of human history came when Eve and Adam failed to believe the good God who made them. He gave them all they needed in Eden, and told them they could have whatever they wanted except for the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He told them that eating this fruit would lead to death.

When the serpent, the great Enemy of God, questioned God’s command, he narrowed  Eve’s focus to what she could see, rocking her confidence in the invisible word of God.  “You won’t die!” he insinuated. “Your eyes will be open and you will be like God,” he enticed. That was exactly what Eve and Adam were supposed to do—it was the great desire of their lives to reflect the image of God.

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. (Genesis 3:6 NLT)

They fell for what their eyes told them was true. “We see delicious fruit that will give us wisdom like God’s!” But it was a sham. Becoming like God could only happen God’s way—in a loving relationship with him built on trust and obedience. They could not forge an identity apart from God, and their attempt to do so indeed led to death.

The children of Eve and Adam have since lived in a broken, bloody, perpetually dying world. None of us are who we ought to be. This is what is wrong with our world. But God promised that one day he would bring humanity back to the relationship he meant for us to have with him and with each other. The world and its people would not remain broken forever.

Restoration.

All of creation has been waiting for it ever since the promise was made.

The birth of a baby, Jesus of Nazareth, was the first part of its fulfillment. But we are still waiting for the world to be restored to original glory and us along with it. We are still waiting to be restored to complete fellowship with God when our faith in the invisible will turn into truly seeing God as he is.

The skies remain empty—we do not yet see the promised Jesus returning as our King. We do not yet see a new heaven or a new earth. But we watch, we wait, and we hope. We will not be deceived again. We will keep holding tight to our faith that every word God says is true.

We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. (Philippians 3:20-21 NLT).

Our world is a mess, God, but we see signs of your restoration all around us. We sometimes see truth, justice, mercy and goodness in our world–and we taste heaven. But we want more. We want Jesus. Come again, Lord Jesus. We welcome you into our hearts, and our world, this Christmas.