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Women of the Advent | March 1, 2023

I want to talk about the cross and suffering with Jesus and how those two things relate to you and me, but before I do that, I’ll need to give you a warning: This reflection is going to be interactive. I’m a visual learner/teacher, and the way I tell stories or explain a subject is by using real, tangible things. With that in mind, grab a pen or pencil (or crayon or marker; I’m not a stickler) and buckle in.

Now that we’ve got our tools, let’s take a look at Romans 8:16-17. It says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” That’s a whole lot of something, right? Let’s break it down a bit starting with verse 16. “The Spirit himself testifies with OUR spirit that we are God’s children.” We have been grafted into God’s story. We are brothers and sisters to Christ. Isn’t that awesome? The next verse tells us what comes with that: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” meaning we will inherit anything and everything that Jesus inherits. Hebrews 1:2 says that Jesus inherits “all things” which means we do, too. Hebrews 1:4 says that Jesus inherits a name above all names. There is power in that name. So, when we pray and say “in the name of Jesus or Christ our Savior” or even “in your Son’s name we pray,” we can know that God is listening intently and intentionally because there is power in that name. Being a co-heir is starting to sound pretty great, huh?

Then we get to the last part and the heat turns up to high. “…if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Hmm…sharing in suffering in order to share in glory. Let’s bring it down to a simmer and take a deeper look. This is the part where you’ll need that pen I asked you to grab earlier. In the margins I want you to write a tally mark for every question you are able to answer. And be honest…no one is seeing this except you. 

  • Make a tally if…
    • You have a favorite food.
    • You have at least one friend.
    • You have a coworker who frustrates you.
    • You have a pet.
    • You’ve ever felt overlooked/ignored.
    • You have a sibling or siblings (in-laws count too).
    • You feel like no one quite understands the real you.
    • You’ve ever been blamed for something you didn’t do.
    • You’ve ever felt overwhelmed.
      • Make a tally if that thing that felt overwhelming was 
        • Sad
        • bad/made you upset/angry
        • Scared you
    • Lastly, make a tally if, when something bad happens or you’re feeling really low, you pray.

Alright, you can put your pen down. Did you know that you can talk to God about those things? Like do you know that you can talk to God about ANYTHING that’s going on? He went through a lot of the same kinds of pain that we still experience today when he came to dwell among us in the form of his Son, Jesus. Rejection (from his own town because they didn’t like prophets), abandonment by his own friends, those same friends failing him, injustice and unfair accusations (he was innocent and they still put him up on the cross), and being attacked both verbally and physically are just a few examples. These are all especially evident in his death on the cross.

Knowing that we can take all of these things to the altar is the GLORY that we share with Christ. That we are not forgotten or overlooked or blamed because Jesus died on the cross to take those things away forever. He understands anything and everything you may be going through because he went through it too.

I want you to raise your right hand. This hand represents your personal wounds — your hurts, your fears, your anger, your sadness, AND ALSO, your happiness, your PEACE, and your JOY.

Keep that hand up, and put your left hand in the air. This hand represents Jesus’ wounds  his hurts, his fears, his anger, his sadness, AND ALSO his happiness in knowing that on the other side of the Cross was salvation for you and for me, his PEACE that passes all understanding, his STEADFAST LOVE, and his unbelievable and ever-present JOY for YOU! Just you… as you are. 

Now put your hands together. Now we’re praying! Praying is how we remember the suffering and remain thankful for the sacrifice that connects your wounds to the wounds of Christ. Jesus’ resurrection assures us of the hope of new life that sin and pain and death can’t touch. We share in the sufferings AND the glory, the inheritance, the peace, and the joy.

I want to end with one of my favorite Collects. It reminds me that in the midst of this suffering and glory, the chaos and harmony, God is with us and for us. Let’s pray.

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Chelsy DeHart

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