Friday, November 29, 2013

"Journey To The Manger With St. Patrick & Friends" by Jean McLachlan Hess

Here is a little gem of a book, and just in time for Advent.
Journey to the Manger With St. Patrick & Friends by my friend Jean McLachlan Hess.

And actually, according to Celtic traditions, we are a wee bit late: Advent used to be a 6 week affair, so Jean has set about to re-start that ancient tradition.

These devotionals, one for every day, touched my heart and brought me a deep feeling of peace. Jean has brought her memories of old hymns, and ancient rhythms to life with these wonderful devotionals; but not to put aside after the Christmas season, but to keep handy when life gets too hectic and we forget Emmanuel—God with us.
Here is a taste: this is the devotional for November 14th.

“Several years ago, when God placed a call on my life to research and embrace Celtic Christianity, excitement rose up within me. My husband and I had sought God’s plan and design for our church. God’s answer: Celtic Christianity. Celtic formed part of my DNA. Born and raised in Scotland, I had never given much thought to my heritage. I had no idea that this journey into things Celtic would revolutionize my life and transform my relationship with Christ.

The Celts were Peregrine—people of the journey. They never worried about where they were going or how they would get there, because they knew that God would lead the way. They trusted His promise to be with them, to never leave them nor forsake them; He always proved faithful.

As I studied the lives and ministries of these ancient Celtic saints, I became enthralled by their love of the Word, the depth of their prayer life, and the way they experienced God: Father Son, and Holy Spirit. They had an expectation of encountering their maker in all things, at all times and in all places. They lived an Emmanuel—God with us life, as the normal way to follow their Lord.

This Emmanuel—God with us aspect of their faith captivated my heart. Looking back over my life, I only knew the term Emmanuel as associated with Christmas. The promise of the coming Messiah, the Emmanuel—God with us found in Isaiah 7:14, is also recorded in Matthew 1:23. There the angel tells Joseph in a dream that he should marry Mary. These verses were always front and center in the church as we approached, and then celebrated, the birth of the Christ Child. The concept lingered, perhaps a week or two longer, and then, almost unobtrusively, we packed it away with the nativity scene and the rest of the tree ornaments.

Each year, as we celebrate Christmas, we rejoice in Emmanuel—God with us. Yet for most of the year—therefore most of our lives—we live as if He is not with us, except when we find him in those carved-out scheduled “quiet times.” But we do not need to merely settle for an hour in the morning in the hope of encountering the living Christ.

If we truly believe God’s Word, that He is Emmanuel—God with us, then we should expect to experience Him in our regular daily lives.

Celtic Christianity has taught me that living an Emmanuel—God with us life will transform your world. My life has been richer and my spiritual walk deeper since I began to embrace God as Emmanuel.

No longer do I carefully pack Him away each year after the Christmas celebration has passed. No longer do I only hope to experience Him when reading my Bible or praying. Instead, I expect to meet him in the midst of my ordinary day, in every moment and in every way. I look for Him and find Him in the mundane as well as in ministry. Now I walk every day in the assurance that He is with me and that He will never leave me nor forsake me.” (pp 19-20)

You can find Jean's book here on Amazon.

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