A Meditation: Jesus, my Lord, my life, my light

break radiant through the shades

Thou Lovely Source of True Delight

Thou lovely source of true delight
Whom I unseen adore
Unveil Thy beauties to my sight
That I might love Thee more
Oh that I might love Thee more

Jesus, my Lord, my life, my light
Oh come with blissful ray
Break radiant through the shades of night
And chase my fears away
Won’t You chase my fears away

– Anne Steele

These two verses of this song have been echoing through my head as a meditation today.  I sang it out loud as I was on my red scooter, and some people may have thought I was a bit crazy.  Maybe these words as meditation will help curb some of the crazy in your life today.

1. Thou Lovely Source of True Delight     

Music: Kevin Twit
(Please excuse the birds – or enjoy them.  I recorded this tune at 7 in the morning in 4 mile park wearing my pajamas.)

 

Fall Retreat and “the Chair”

We had another great Fall Retreat at Massanetta Springs! During the retreat, RestoArts helped us to embrace the vulnerability of stripping down the pieces of us that keep us from loving God and loving our neighbor. May we be open to his transformation in us, and may this chair be a reminder.
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“The Chair”

Entering Lent

Lent photos

Lent begins on Wednesday, March 5. This season—the 40 days before Easter—is a journey up to Holy Week, when we remember Jesus’ death for us and we celebrate his resurrection. Lent is a time to go deeper in some of our spiritual practices, things like prayer, self-examination, fasting, and giving. It’s a way of giving God a little more space in our lives as he shapes us to look like our crucified and risen Savior.

This year, we’re offering you a word-a-day journey through Lent. Each day there is one word and one verse for you to reflect on, pray about—and look for in the world around you. When you see it, snap a photo with Instagram and share it. Together we’ll build a visual record of all the places we see God at work in us and in the world around us.

Want to participate?

  • In Instagram, follow @restoarts, and then @restoarts will follow you.
  • Each day, take a photo, label it with the day’s word, and tag it with #restoarts. Share it on Facebook too!

Not on social media?

  • Simply reflect on the daily word and verse, asking God what he wants to say to you through them.
  • Follow along on our website. A selection of photos on the home page will take you to a full gallery of everyone’s pictures.

Need a reminder?

  • We’ll send you a daily email or text with the day’s word and verse. Sign up here.

Here’s your Lenten word-a-day:

March 5 Fast Isaiah 58:6
March 6 Thirst Matthew 5:6
March 7 Humble Isaiah 58:5
March 8 Longing Psalm 84:2
March 9 Chosen Isaiah 42:1
March 10 Sober I Peter 5:8
March 11 Gentle Isaiah 42:3
March 12 Repent 2 Chronicles 7:14
March 13 Justice Isaiah 42:4
March 14 Expectation Jeremiah 29:11
March 15 Temptation Matthew 18:7
March 16 Servant Isaiah 49:7
March 17 Pray Mark 1:35
March 18 Gathered Isaiah 49:5
March 19 Broken Psalm 51:17
March 20 Light Isaiah 49:6
March 21 Wilderness Deuteronomy 2:7
March 22 Fed Deuteronomy 8:3
March 23 Obey Isaiah 50:5
March 24 Honest 1 John 1:8-9
March 25 Trust Isaiah 50:10
March 26 Cusp Isaiah 43:19
March 27 Help Isaiah 50:7
March 28 Listen Proverbs 8:34
March 29 Hope Ezra 10:2
March 30 Sorrow Isaiah 53:3
March 31 Still Psalm 37:7
April 1 Judgment Isaiah 53:8
April 2 Receive Proverbs 10:8
April 3 Sin Isaiah 53:12
April 4 Quiet Zephaniah 3:17
April 5 Forgive Colossians 3:12-13
April 6 Barren Isaiah 54:1
April 7 Wait Psalm 38:15
April 8 Compassion Isaiah 54:8
April 9 Form Galatians 4:19
April 10 Love Isaiah 54:10
April 11 Mourn Joel 2:12-13
April 12 Prepare John 14:2-3
April 13 Praise Isaiah 61:3
April 14 Good news Isaiah 61:1
April 15 Honor Is 8:12-13
April 16 Suffer Luke 17:25
April 17 Serve John 13:14
April 18 Remember Luke 23:46
April 19 Dead Matt 27:59-60
April 20 Life John 20:31

I’m looking forward to journeying through this season with you.

– Erin

Stars and our Worshipful Gaze

Tudor Ceiling - The Chapel Royal - long

Because of the belief that a church is a median between heaven and earth, Christians have regularly painted stars on on the ceilings of churches. For instance, stars are a major symbol of Eastern Orthodox architecture, and they were even part of church design in the early Anglican church, as evidenced by the ceiling of the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. These stars helped Christians imagine the heavens when they looked up to worship.

Even in modern times, as our churches have become simpler and perhaps less numerous, the actual stars continue to inspire awe of creation and worship of God. For instance, on Christmas Eve in 1968, after a year of unrest and assassinations on earth, the astronauts of Apollo 8 read the Genesis Creation account from space as their capsule orbited around the moon, the first human-created vessel to do so. Broadcasted around the world, the reading was the most watched television program in history, so successful that the astronauts won an Emmy that year.

Six months later, the first liquid poured out and the first food eaten on the moon were communion elements, self-administered by Presbyterian astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon. There, in the lunar one-sixth gravity, the wine curled up the side of the cup. Aldrin later reflected to Time Magazine, “At the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience than by giving thanks to God.”

As the 20th Century continued, the stars continued to inspire majesty and awe even in secular contexts. Perhaps nowhere have stars been more romanticized in recent American culture than by Carl Sagan in his 1980s television program Cosmos. On the show, (aided by choice 1980s computer graphics) Sagan proposed that technology, not God, had been human being’s salvation for millennia. Yet his poetic narration about the heavens instilled a curiosity and beauty about the stars that lifted them out of sterile science.

In the Bible, David uses the heavens to instill worship. For Abraham, God uses the multiplicity of the stars to demonstrate his promise and unbelievable blessing to a wandering nomad. For the Magi, who traded in the movement of stars, God uses a single one to quite literally lead them to Jesus. How compassionate is a God who uses mediums that inspire to lead us back to the promise of his Son.

Despite cultural unmooring from the Christian faith, stars remain objects that have the potential to lift the human heart to heaven just as they did with Abraham, the Magi and the early Christians and astronauts. As we enter into Advent, how is God calling you to understand and worship him through awe-inspiring, unexplored environments like outer space?

Carrie W. Montalto
Restoration Member
RestoArts

 

Stars

Screen shot 2013-10-05 at 8.31.17 PM

In the summer of 2001, I taught astronomy to kids at a camp in rural Texas. Night after night, on the camp’s stargazing platform, these city kids would often gasp with wonder at the brilliance of the night sky. Stars are just as wondrous for adults as for children – perhaps even more so, as our adult imaginations are often starved for the kind of mystery and beauty that stars convey. And so, as David preaches on creation, fall, and restoration this fall, let’s turn our eyes heavenward and contemplate all the stars have to teach us:

  • God’s vastness and mystery. On a clear night in Arlington, we might see a few dozen stars. If we were to drive out to the Shenandoah, we may see a stunning thousand or two. These stars are so far away that it takes their light hundreds, thousands, even millions of years to reach us; thus, looking at the stars is looking back in time. The light we see from some stars began its journey to our eyes before man discovered fire or Columbus sailed to America. But even these stars are only a tiny fraction of all the stars that exist, each one enormous. Our sun, itself a modestly sized star, could hold a million Earths. Our galaxy alone holds over a hundred billion stars, and is only one of billions of galaxies in the universe. In the far reaches of the known universe, quasars emit the energy of trillions of suns; pulsars emit radio waves with more precision than atomic clocks; and black holes exert so much gravity that time nearly stands still in their presence. The sheer size of the universe, the mind-bending conflation of space and time, the million “why?”s that the stars provoke – all of these cause us to marvel at the extraordinary power and vastness and otherness of the God who created it all.
  • God’s intimacy. Contemplating the immensity of the universe could make God seem distant, complex, inaccessible. But instead, the Bible describes an intimate creator, a God who has counted and named every single star – including the thousand that are still being created every second. He has ordered each star’s birth, life, and death, and given it a specific place in the sky. He is the infinite and mysterious God of the heavens, yes, but he is also an intimate God, naming and knowing and carefully tending his creation.
  • God’s artistry. The Bible calls the stars God’s handiwork, and describes them with the sensory language of craftsmanship: they are spread, stretched, knit across the sky. In return, these beautifully crafted entities are described repeatedly as singing for joy. In creating the stars, God used the tools of the artist, the craftsman, the musician, to adorn the sky with billions upon billions of glorious worshipers.
  • God’s story. The entire drama of God’s story unfolds in the stars. When he creates the world, he begins with the sun, moon, and stars. When God wants to convey the enormity of his promise to Abraham, he leads him out under the night sky and directs his gaze at the stars. When his prophets foretell impending judgment, they describe stars being darkened, the heavens being torn and shaken. When he wants to announce the birth of his son, he tells a story in the night sky so compelling that Eastern astronomers leave their homes and journey for months to find the king announced in the stars. And in Revelation, when he reveals to John a sweeping vision of all history, he casts stars as the key actors – from Satan and a third of the stars being cast out of heaven, to Jesus, himself the Bright Morning Star, cradling seven stars in his hand, coming again to make all things new.
  • Our story. Carl Sagan famously wrote in Cosmos that “we are made of starstuff.” It is mind-boggling to imagine that the same elements necessary to all life on earth, including every atom in our bodies, are in the dusty nebulae from which stars are birthed. From this stardust, God lavishes beauty, creativity, story, and individuality upon billions of stars in the heavens. But amazingly, he lavishes even more upon us, assembling these same elements into human lives crafted in his image, and beckoning us into relationship with him as beloved sons and daughters. He even invites us into the act of creation and redemption, telling us to shine as stars as we hold out his life-giving word to a dark world. How humbling it is to find ourselves merely specks in an enormous universe, yet specks that are fully known, heard, and loved by the God who spoke it all into being.

Madeliene L’Engle once wrote that the ancient understanding of the word “disaster” was, quite literally, separation (dis-) from stars (-aster). In many ancient cultures, stars were believed to be deities themselves, or lights carried by invisible gods in the sky. While we no longer believe the stars are capable of controlling our fates, the ancient meaning of “disaster” still has the feel of truth; for our self-imposed separation from the stars (by pollution, electric lighting, urbanization, etc) can indeed be disastrous to our contemplation of God.

Stargazing can be an incredible source of wonder, humility, and joy. Over the coming weeks, why not take a few moments to intentionally sit beneath the stars and regain a small bit of that wonder? Take a walk after dinner. Drive an hour west and park the car for a while. Take advantage of the upcoming church retreat, far from city lights, and sit under the night sky with a pair of binoculars brought from home (telescopes are rarely needed for most sky observation). In the meantime, we’ll be providing a few small opportunities to access the stars through various art forms – from images on the screens at church to words and images on this blog – so stay tuned! We hope that these opportunities will allow us all to join with the stars in songs of worship to our creator.

– Amy Rowe

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