PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you, as a living sacrifice
Jesus, I belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Luke 2:51–52 (NIV)
Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
We are walking through the story of Jesus, tracing his steps through the great awakening journey of his life, coordinating our calendar with his as the Holy Spirit orders our steps. After the descending journey of Advent and the celebration of Christmas in the valley of the manger we are now into our ascent into the great season of revelation we call Epiphany. If we were to look back on our itinerary so far it would look like this:
- The Star revealed to the Magi
- The five dreams with their angelic interventions
- The consecration of the infant Jesus in the Temple
- The first Passover (i.e., the bar mitzvah trip) with the twelve-year-old boy Jesus and his extended visit
- The baptism with cousin John at the river Jordan.
- The wedding with the water into wine sign.
Like the scenes of a movie, I like to plot these stories across the timeline of the Awakening Calendar. If we do not learn to follow Jesus first through the stories revealed in Scripture, how can we hope to follow him beyond them? This journey of revelatory epiphanies will take us all the way to the top of Transfiguration Mountain at which point we will abruptly turn and enter the great descent of the Forty Days (aka Lent) into the Valley of the Cross.1
So why are we doing it this way? I wrote earlier about how God’s people have operated according to a divinely-inspired and revealed calendar from the very first week (i.e., six days of work and one day of rest). We are doing this because it helps us follow Jesus, to learn to see what he sees, to hear what he hears, to speak like he speaks, to go where he goes, and to do what he does. This can’t really be learned by doctrine and precept; essential as those are. It is learned by means of the Word of God and the Spirit of God—by beholding and becoming.
We make this sacred pilgrimage every single year and every single time we see and hear more than we saw and heard before. We see deeper into the revelation and the Spirit parses this out through our lives, causing the Word to become flesh in us just as with Jesus. We want to remember the life of Jesus in such vividness and with such interconnectedness and interrelatedness with our own life and times that Jesus story and life becomes seamless with our own story and life—notice how un-burdensome this way of life is.
As much as I love the Bible, the goal is not simply to read the Bible. The goal is to become the embodied presence of Jesus in all of our lives. The goal is to follow Jesus through the Bible with him as our rabbi or teacher. It’s interesting how we can learn to recite the names of the books of the Bible in order and still not know much of anything about the unfolding story of Jesus. We can learn the doctrines of the Christian faith and even the creeds and still be virtually ignorant of the story and the stories of Jesus who is the central figure not only of the Bible but of world history and not just of world history but eternity.2
Jesus’s mother, Mary, shows us the goal of such a life:
But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.
We want to learn to treasure the life of Jesus in our hearts; every last bit of it. The more we do this the more we will find ourselves becoming like him, growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and with people.
Our Father, we keep praying that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened in order that we may know you better, that I might become truly humble; which is to awaken to the person you imagined when you fashioned my inmost being and that I might rise up into the real life for which you created me. Forgetting what is past, I press on toward this high calling. But for today, let me find myself sitting next to Mary learning how to treasure up and ponder the life of Jesus in my heart. I want to live a consecrated life of simple obedience and extravagant love. Show me the next small thing. Come Holy Spirit, I am ready to move with you. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
How are you learning to behold Jesus, not in the abstract, but in vivid, living color through the unfolding Gospel accounts of his life? How are you learning to treasure up and ponder these things in your heart? What impact is it having? We can spend so much of our time thinking about what we need to be doing or doing better and how we are failing that we can miss Jesus altogether because we are focused on ourselves. How are you turning your eyes upon Jesus?
The song today is a chorus we keep coming back to, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” We will sing it through a couple of times.
NOTES FOR ADDITIONAL REFLECTION AND STUDY
- We have a real blessing ahead for the forty days of Lent. Dan Wilt has mapped out a powerful journey which will be unfolded here on the Wake-Up Call. It’s called Jesus in the Wild: Lessons on Calling for Life in the World. We even have the books available now. Invite family and friends (even your whole church) to join the great descent to the cross together with us.
- Perhaps we should revisit our catechisms, and even reconstruct them to actually follow Jesus of Nazareth, step-by-step, allowing the doctrines to emerge like great cathedrals of reflection along the path. It has always astonished me how the Apostles’ Creed reduces the entire story of Jesus to a comma tucked between “born of the Virgin Mary (,) and suffered under Pontius Pilate.” This is not to downgrade the great creed, but to say we must make much more of Jesus and the story and stories of Scripture going forward—especially with our children. Again, though, this must begin with us.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt