The On-Ramp to Christmas…

by DanWolgemuth on November 15, 2019

Her resume was short and unimpressive. Her passion and hope were personal and reputational. But she was clearly on the radar of God. In His plan.

Indeed, God has a knack for finding obscure people and elevating them to places of cosmic significance, of eternal impact.

Elizabeth.

Wife to Zechariah. Righteous and good.

Childless. And Old.

Then, a message from God, delivered directly to her husband, and her life pivoted. Profoundly.

Now she was pregnant. And old.

In seclusion for five months. Hope-filled. Joy-enveloped. Worship-focused. A baby.

Add to the resume the fact that she was a relative of Mary. The “favored one.”

An unexpected visitor in month six of her pregnancy. Enter Mary.

Mary… alone. Isolated. Confused. And compelled to walk over 80 miles to safety. To comfort. To family. To Elizabeth.

Before Mary showed, Elizabeth saw. Before Mary announced, Elizabeth proclaimed. Before Mary explained, Elizabeth understood.

In fact, even Elizabeth’s unborn son knew. Even in the womb John the Baptist was preparing the way, proclaiming the truth.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry… (Luke 1:41–42, ESV)

Faith before delivery. Hope before birth. Elizabeth.

Then… the most profound words of her life. Words that ring through the vastness of time. A blessing. Blessings. Fuel for smoldering embers. Water for a thirsty soul. Words of life.

From the lips of Elizabeth, but with the voice of God.

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true!
(Luke 1:42–45, MSG)

The “mother of my Lord.” Indeed, Elizabeth knew. And as a result, she blessed.

Blessed. For three months Mary soaked in the blessing. For three months she rested in the affirmation and confirmation.

Profound and unmistakable, a teen mom and an aging pregnant woman… the first worshipers of Jesus. A short, unimpressive resume, but the calling of God.

Elizabeth. The record of her jubilant endorsement of the work, plan and purpose of God confined to one chapter, in one book. Luke 1.

The Underqualified. The Overlooked. The “Reproached.”

A perfect resume in the hands of God. A believer. An evangelist. Elizabeth.

A resume. Not for LinkedIn, but for the ages. A resume.

Identity for the obscure. Purpose for the powerless.

Elizabeth. Mary.

John the Baptist. Jesus.

The on-ramp to Christmas… to be continued.

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Incarcerated – Still Sitting on my Soul

by DanWolgemuth on November 8, 2019

From time to time over the last six months, a stagnant memory or reflection stirs in my soul as I think about 26 hours in lock up.

Most urgently I’m drawn back to the simple and straightforward process of “intake”. It’s the activity of separating the resident from the last remnant of personal belongings. Individual expression is eliminated, and uniformity is established. Clothing, socks, shoes, a few toiletries, and bedding.

Bedding… Sheets. A blanket. The end.

For an unexplainable reason, what tends to roost on my soul is the fact that residents aren’t given a pillow. A concrete slab, with a foam pad… a sheet, a blanket, but no pillow.

I’m sure there are reasons, and most likely, good reasons… but for the vast majority of these young men and women, the precaution is unnecessary. Yet, the policy and process exist. No pillow.

What was unexpected to me was that not having a pillow was more than an inconvenience. It was an assault on my dignity. An insult of sorts. Not having a pillow made sustained rest impossible. It was an interruption that fanned the flames of shame.

During the single night that I experienced this, I envisioned the twelve and thirteen-year-olds on the other side of a concrete wall who were doing their best to create a place for their heads to rest. Precious heads. Young heads. Misguided heads. Defiant heads. Confused heads. Hopeless heads… without the dignity of a pillow.

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20, ESV)

No place. Nowhere.

The beautiful head of the only begotten had no place. No rest.

The Creator. The King. No pillow.

Is it any wonder that Jesus invites us into the sacred space of bringing hope to those who have lost all dignity, identity, purpose and hope? He knows what it’s like to be shamed. He knows.

He knows each young person who wrestles to find rest. Each young person who grasps for peace.

To every young person… a simple message. Jesus knows. He knows the isolation. The loneliness. The disgrace. The restless nights.

To every young person… a simple message. Jesus redeems. Jesus ransoms. Jesus loves.

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20, ESV)

He clutches those pillow-less heads in His nail scared hands and kisses them.

Dignity in a new identity.

“I was in prison and you came to me…”

For every restless soul. For every confused inmate. Through the pillow-less shame.

Hope.

Jesus. He knows. And in some fractional way… so do I.

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I’m Busy…

November 1, 2019

“How are you?” The question crosses our lips or pushes into our ears over and over again. And most often the reply swirls around some variation of… “I’m busy…” Busy. Rushed. Maybe even squashed and breathless and frantic… Have you been there? Are you there? Are the people around you there? As always, the life […]

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Praying with a view…

October 25, 2019
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And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41–42, ESV) Jesus prayed with a view. His eyes stirred His soul. And His soul reacted […]

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A New Dial Tone

October 18, 2019

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5–6, ESV) Gracious speech. Seasoned with salt. It was just yesterday, I was driving home and merging onto Arapahoe Road, just […]

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15% Unleashed

October 11, 2019

Yesterday I received this update about Jackie Eads, a precious friend from Miami… Jackie’s heart is only working at around 15%… 15%. The number both discouraged me and inspired me. In reality, Jackie’s heart, functioning at 15% is more effective, compassionate, thoughtful, generous, wise, tender, focused, faithful, gentle, and loving than mine. At 15%. This […]

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Seven Miles

October 4, 2019

Another flight. Another push back from the gate. Another routine safety speech. We rolled unceremoniously to the end of the runway and as the 737 engines began to roar, a young child’s voice from several rows behind me pierced the moment… “Are we going into the sky?” Light laughter from those who could hear followed […]

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Unless…

September 27, 2019

Over the past 14 years, Mary and I have watched the beautiful pine forests of Colorado succumb to the onslaught of Mountain Pine Beetle and Spruce Beetle.  Hundreds of thousands of acres have been impacted. Vibrant, year round green, gives way to yellowing needles, then a season of lifeless grey… and finally dead branches lose […]

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His Plan For My Tears

September 23, 2019

              You have kept count of my tossings;               put my tears in your bottle.               Are they not in your book? (Psalm 56:8, ESV) These incredible words from King David are an invitation into authenticity. David’s pain is real. He’s lost in the agony of defeat. His hope […]

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Watch Your Language

September 6, 2019

Another routine optometrist appointment. My depleted supply of contact lens required it. After a short wait I was escorted back to my exam room by a young technician named Diego. He was thoughtful and engaging. He directed me into Exam room #2 and into the seat that would be my resting spot for the next […]

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