Here we are in our third week discussing Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift. If you’ve missed the first two, you can find our chats on December 1-3 here and December 4-10 (and art work!) here. I love the rich discussion going on!
This week we’ve walked with Rahab, Ruth and Naomi, Samuel and David, Isaiah, Elijah, Jonah, and Micah as we trudge, skip, or walk towards Bethlehem and the birth of the King of Kings. So much history, hope, longing, disappointment, and variety reflected in that one sentence, isn’t there?
I don’t know the history behind all of the red ribbons that are traditionally used in Christmas decorations, but I have a new appreciation for them after reading:
“Rahab, the scarlet woman, flings a scarlet cord out her window –that one thread everything’s’ hanging on. And that scarlet cord is her identity — that scarlet line running from the animal sacrifice covering Adam and Eve’s nakedness in the Garden of Eden to the crimson markings of blood on the door frames of the first Passover to the willing drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane– and Rahab is delivered by that singular scarlet cord and tied into the Jewish family.”
On December 12th, anyone else underline When we have an agenda for God, we can’t see the gifts from God.? Ann’s reflection on Naomi’s comment that she went away full, but the LORD had brought me home empty. I know when I”m on the agenda driven side of things, my focus tends towards things that don’t always bring out the fruits of the Spirit, shall we say. I loved this day and the way that Ann rooted us in ordinariness, not in flashy miracles.
And that quote from Stuart Briscoe!!! comparing and contrasting the Spirit of Christ with the Spirit of Christmas ending with The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. Let’s just sit with that for a moment.
How about on December 13th when she looked at the story of Samuel anointing the next king? A story and lesson we’re old hats in. “You can see it, too, how the world keeps looking for beauty in appearances than in His appearing.” But then Ann gives it a modern spin. “From Hollywood to Pinterest, the media of this world aggressively schools your soul to see the exact opposite on the way God sees.”
I feel the pull. The tug. The importance of the outside. Of finding just the right image to go with this post. How do you push back? How can we push back together?
Moving on to Elijah and Mt. Carmel and I Kings 18:21. “How much longer will you wave, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him!” And that in Hebrew the word for wavering is sinking. Wow. I’m not saying that we might not feel a bit pulled under in times when we’re not wavering, but I can definitely see the tie in with when I’ve wavered and when I’ve sunk. How about you? Can’t wait to see this one in the comments section.
There was so much to this week! The gift of a storm?! Anyone, anyone?! But this should be enough to get the conversational juices started. I’ll list a few of the reflection questions Ann gave:
- Do you know what it’s like to have a bad reputation? What does it mean to you that God’s grace is enough to coder any kind of past?
- Like Naomi, do you sometimes miss the love all around you? Name some of the people who have been faithful Ruths for you.
- What is one thing you can do to spark home for someone else today?
- What emotions are evoked in you when you realize that God doesn’t expect you to perform for Him — that He has already given you everything you need?
- When have you felt like Bethlehem … poor, small, forgotten?
Ann asks us, what are you absorbed in? Get a cup of something warm or cool to drink and let’s talk. What stood out to you as you read? And do come back as the conversation unfolds.
And in case you haven’t heard, we’re doing an amazing giveaway this week!
This stunning 8×10 canvas by Amy Davis Art Design will be given to the winner and shipped to a U.S. address.
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Winner will be announced at The Grove at the end of the week!