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Echoing Eden

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As I walked along a neighborhood path the other morning, trying to think of all the people I want to pray for and feeling generally weighed down by what was happening throughout the world, something caught my eye. Upon inspection, I found a rock glistening in the sun. It glistened because it had been painted with glitter paint.

I began paying more attention and soon found another rock, this one painted like a jack o’lantern, and a third portraying a goofy face. My mood lifted and I found myself thanking God for the treat. I felt near happy-tears as I realized that my neighbors, children and families, had prepared this treat for me and others, to raise our spirits and remind us of whimsy, color, and the way glitter reflects the light of the sun. Every day, more art-rocks appear, reminders that children and families we don’t even know have created an ever-growing art-walk to cheer their neighbors.

Outcroppings of the arts are happening worldwide. In Italy, neighbors have taken to their balconies in song, joining their voices to remind each other they weren’t alone. In response, videos began cropping up out of China, a country also devastated by the catastrophe of COVID-19. Chinese people on the videos say, “Resist, Italy!” Even though you can’t see their mouths beneath the surgical masks, you can tell from their voices that they are smiling.
In Echoes of Eden, Jerram Barrs writes, The Creativity of others helps us enter into God’s creativity. . . . The arts enable us to look beyond ourselves and beyond the horizons of our own experience. They help us to stop being so self-centered. He offers five aspects of our creative calling:


• We are to seek to glorify God in all we do.
• We are designed to find fulfillment for ourselves in using, developing, and expressing the gifts God has so richly given us.
• We are to seek to be of benefit to others.
• In being creative, we are exercising our dominion over the earth.
• And in all we do, we are to set back the boundaries of the fall, to restrain the abnormality of our present human life in its brokenness and sorrow and of our present world that is under the curse and therefore resists our dominion.

I imagine a child of three in my neighborhood, setting back the boundaries of the fall with help from her mother by applying glitter paint on a rock and planting it on the side of the path to delight passersby. The treat of unexpected color and childish delight led me to consider the glory of God, that even in this dire time, He would work through the actions of a child to bring a little fun into her neighbors’ day.

The benediction Kyle gave last Sunday calls us to similar expressions of fellowship and service. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:15-17

I hope you are cheered as well by the beauty of God’s creation, and by the delight of music and art. And who knows, maybe you too have an art-walk awaiting your stroll!

*Our son Daniel is a musician. I’d like to close this devotional mini-lesson with a song he wrote, and an accompanying stop-motion animated video he created, called “All That’s True.” (Click Here)

Posted by Joy Zeigler with

Community, and The Gospel

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One of the greatest dangers we face from the coronavirus is the loss of community. With the need to self-isolate and the avenues to meet with others socially now closing, we begin a forced withdrawal. As a result, it seems appropriate for us to briefly revisit the topic of community in the life of the Church.

We begin with Genesis 1:1-2 and John 1:1-3, which tells us that in the beginning was the triune God. God in and of Himself (three persons, one nature…a mystery to be sure) is community. In
Genesis 1:26 God begins the crowning of His creation by saying, “Let us make man in our image.” According to John Calvin, the language used here is the language of one who is deliberating.
Calvin goes on to note that up to this point, God had been shown as simply commanding His creation into being; now, when He approaches the most excellent of all His works, He enters into
consultation. God certainly might have commanded by His bare word what He wished to be done; but He chose to give this tribute to man, that He would enter into dialog concerning man’s
creation.1

However, when all is done there is one thing in all of creation that God said was not good (Genesis 2:18), and that was for man to be alone. Man was made for community, perhaps this is part of
what it means to be made in the image of God. And so God created woman. And there was community. And all was “very good” (Genesis 1:27-31).

Then, history takes an ugly turn. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve, deceived by the serpent, rebel against their creator. Fear creeps in, shame creeps in, death creeps in. And among the effects of the Fall, there are broken relationships – between man and God (verses 8 and 12), between man and himself (verses 7 and 12), between man and others (verse 12), and between man and creation (verses 17 to 19).

And yet, in the midst of this narrative of misery, there is the first glimmer of hope that one day all will be made right again (Genesis 3:15). There is a promise of a savior, “the Seed of the woman,” a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ into the world.

Beginning with Genesis 12:1-3, the story of redemption starts to take shape as God calls Abram to leave everything that was comfortable and familiar to him in order to create a distinct
community (“I will make you into a great nation…all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you”). This is a statement of promise (of the coming blessing through Christ) as much as
it is a statement of mission (you as a people are to be the bearers of this blessing).

Skipping ahead, ultimately, the story of redemption culminates in the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the cross He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). What was happening here? Jesus willingly had His perfect community/communion with His Father disrupted for us…He was forsaken by the Father so that you and I might never be
rejected.
1 Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis

But the story didn’t end there. As testified to by many eyewitnesses (more than 500; 1st Corinthians 15:3-7), Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven (Acts 1). From His throne, He presides over the restoration of this world.

Peter, who experienced the community of Christ firsthand, echoes the words from Exodus 19:5,6:“you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you
may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1st Peter 2:9) We, the Church, are to be that kingdom of priests, that nation and people that God promised
to Abraham...a community belonging to God.

The thread which runs throughout the storyline of Holy Scripture is one of the Gospel and community…that God has called us as Christians, not to be “lone rangers,” but to be a community.
For what purpose?—our salvation is God’s means of transforming the world. Remember Jesus’ prayer (Matthew 6:10), “Thy kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven?” That’s what we are a part of: A community of Christ establishing His Father’s kingdom in this time and place in this little corner of the world, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We, as a community, are to be about the business of bringing the message of redemption and restoration to a fallen creation. In this time of isolation, we need to be reminded that we are not alone and that we are loved by God. Let’s think about ways that we can encourage community even though we are not physically together.

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,” James says, “that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created” (James 1:18). We are the first ray of light breaking through into the darkness of a disordered and fractured universe. We are the first sign of a new dawn. The night of Satan’s reign is fading. In C.S. Lewis’s vivid imagery, the snows of the White Witch’s winter are melting in Narnia. The church is an outpost of heaven.”
---Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

1. Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis

Posted by Andy Yung with

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