by Ryan T
Advent is a gift. It is a time to slow down, savor, reflect and see things in the light of Christ.
The Christian year divides first into the seasons that lead us through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. This Sunday is the beginning of Advent, which means, "a coming, approach, arrival." In this season we wait with open hands to receive the fullness of Jesus, who has come once and will come again. It is a time to say yes to the cleansing and expanding of our hearts to prepare 'a place' to welcome Jesus.
Waiting gives space for reflection and If we are honest and in touch with the world, then our Advent reflections must begin with trouble. Trouble in our world, in our communities, in our families, and in ourselves.
"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come."
There is deep brokenness in our world that no Black Friday bargains can fix; there is a yearning for connectedness and belonging that no holiday party or family gathering can meet. The damage is too extensive and cannot be covered up no matter how hard we try. So we wait longingly; aching for God’s saving action. O God, that you would tear open the heavens and come down. Jesus is breaking open his way to you, longing to soften your hardened heart. He has come to release you from the prisons of darkness and hopelessness.
"Advent is the time when God breaks in on us with new surprises and touches us with a renewing and restoring power."
– Robert Webber
What does God have for us in this season of Advent? How can we enter into this season and receive it as a gift? What will we need to change in our lives to be able slow down long enough to get in touch with the pain and longing in our lives and that of our neighbor? I believe God can answer these questions for each of us, if we will risk asking them. I also believe we have to ask these questions with others in community, recognizing that we need each other to be able to live vulnerably, bravely, and expectantly. O God, that you would tear open the heavens and come down.
photo taken: Gozo, Malta
By Amber Hunter Jesse
I’d like to share with you a truly special place where all are welcome, sunrise to sunset.
I wonder, have you heard of this treasure that’s hidden in our city?
Its name is Canaan in the Desert, and I personally think it’s one of Arizona's best kept secrets.
I once wrote a song that says, “I’m a tortured soul and I don’t rest easy.”
Jesus invites us in this way, "Come to me, all who are weary with heavy burdens and I will give you rest." This beautiful desert prayer garden has become for me a sacred space, a place where I can take a deep breath and find rest.
It thrills my heart to share Canaan with you. I want you to know that it’s available for you too!
The sky is bright blue here this morning and perfectly clear. It's quiet, except for singing birds. The unique beauty of the desert is highlighted here. The beauty of God, even more so.
I’m often surprised that there aren’t more people flocking to this outdoor sanctuary. There have been times I've had this whole garden to myself!
Do you need some quiet in your day? A place of peace? A place to rest and think? To pray? To experience beauty? Maybe even a place to grieve?
Come to Canaan in the Desert. Really, Come!
There's so much I could tell you about this wonderful place. Here's a bit of history.
Canaan began in Darmstadt, Germany. On September 11th, 1944, an air raid left their town in ruins, with over 12,000 dead. Two young women and their little Bible study group sensed an invitation from God to help bring healing and reconciliation in the midst of the horrors of war. They decided to live together in community, and with only $15 dollars in their pockets, they began building with their own hands- a motherhouse, a chapel and a garden for prayer.
Many miracles later, their passion for prayer, healing and reconciliation has spread to various places around the world, including right here in the middle of our desert city!
Sit and read under the olive trees. Walk along the pathways. Drink from the "Fountain of the Father's Goodness." Journey through the "Stations of the Cross." If you see one of the sisters, feel free to say hello! They are warm and hospitable. Christmas is an especially comforting time to visit Cannan in the Desert.
Just below are are some photos I've snapped over the years.
Grace and peace to you,
9849 N 40 St.
Phoenix, AZ 85028
"We invite you to our Christmas Prayer
Daily Dec. 14 – Jan 1, at 3:00 pm
in Jesus’ Victory Chapel
Come and sing with us at the manger"