Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

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 2:41–43 (NIV)

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.

CONSIDER THIS

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.

The enormity of these simple words should not be underestimated. 

They tell us Jesus’s parents lived by the calendar of the kingdom of heaven. Their everyday, every year lives were marked by the mighty saving acts of God on the earth. Next to their breath, their most sacred, common, and practical gift—time itself—was scripted by the story of the Scriptures. 

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 

In this week-long celebration, they would join the whole people of God in a movemental immersion into the story of their four-hundred-year enslavement in Egypt, of the calling and anointing of Moses, the slave baby turned prince of Egypt, of the bitter cruelty of Pharaoh, and of their deliverance from the land through plagues, the blood bought passover of the sacrificial lambs, and the parting of the Red Sea—all by the mighty hand and the outstretched arm of Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth. Far beyond religious rites, they enacted the story as though it were happening again. This is how an ancient story becomes a living, breathing, present-day reality; not by rote religious ritual but by the repeated realism of regular re-immersion—not into the doctrine or dogma but into the very texture of the story itself, by eating and drinking, feasting and fasting, singing and telling the story as we “do these things in remembrance of our God.” 

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.

This is how Jesus grew up. This story would become so etched into his memory that two decades later it would fire his imagination with such a thorough comprehensitivity that he would not only re-enact the story with his life but he would re-frame it for the whole world. He would step onto the stage not only of history but of eternity—as the incarnate God of the story himself—the Word made flesh no less—retelling the ancient sequence with his very life. This is the whole point of the Christian calendar, which we frame as the Awakening calendar.1

It was just as the Passover supper had ended that this utterly stunning extension of the story happened:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:19–20)

Remembrance. Jesus said something like anamnesis (Greek) or the Aramaic equivalent. We have a fairly anemic concept of “remembrance” which can tend to miss Jesus’s point.2

The point is Jesus got so caught up in the Passover festival that the twelve-year-old quite literally got lost in the wonder of it all. 

After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.

We will go looking for him tomorrow. 

THE PRAYER

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 next to Jesus as he experiences the Passover, maybe for the first time—watching the awe and wonder on his face, beholding his heart race as he already knows this story beyond knowledge because he knows you. 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.

THE QUESTION

To what degree is the Christian calendar (i.e., Awakening calendar) shaping your life and time? On a scale of 1 to 10, irrelevant to essential, where would you land today? And how would you comment on that? 

THE HYMN

The hymn today is “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus,” which is not in our Seedbed hymnal Our Great Redeemer’s Praise, but you probably know the words by heart. 

P.S. Prayer and Fasting for Life and Awakening Course 

Let me hear from you of your interest in a possible course with me—Prayer and Fasting for Life and Awakening—in March. Details and One Minute Survey Here. 

NOTES FOR ADDITIONAL REFLECTION AND STUDY 

  1. Before the Bible is doctrines and precepts it is a very real and true story. If we are to get beyond the “believe and behave” trap of dogmatic religion and awaken to the “behold and become” approach to faith, hope, and love, we must recover the magnificent story of God in a way not diminishing but transcending its historical reality. It must become suffused by a practiced and practical remembrance while being infused with the supernatural substance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible unveils the way this works through revealing the Hebraic worldview and mindset. We remember the story by practicing it in real time. And we practice it through the use of the most practical document in our lives: our calendar. This is why we have innovated on the ancient Christian liturgical calendar to produce what we call the Awakening calendar, or the calendar of the kingdom. We have found that what is commonly called “the liturgical calendar” has over time tended to reduce the movement of God into the mindless motions of the church. The Awakening calendar is an effort to reconnect and retrain the church with its most fundamental story through re-attaching the motions to the movement which is the mystery itself—Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again! 
  2. Throughout history the church has fought (at times bitterly) over this sacramental supper. On one end some contend for a simple historical recalling or flat memorialization of this central event of history and eternity. On the other end some contend for a change in the molecular properties of the bread and the wine into the literal body and blood of Jesus ala transubstantiation. In my judgment, the meaning of anamnesis and the supper itself is far more in keeping with the Hebrew approach to Passover; which is to enter into and re-enact the story in such fashion that the literal history is brought forward into the present (i.e., “it is happening again”). We “do this” in remembrance (anamnesis) such that his very real presence is mysteriously and miraculously embodied and experienced in the entirety of the activity—through the word and the table, the retelling and remembering, the bread and the wine, the invocation and the institution, the giving and the receiving, the eating and the drinking, even the gathering and the sending. The Lord’s Supper is the sacramental experience of the awakening movement of the kingdom of God. From start to end, the convening, celebration, consecration, communion, and commissioning is meant to gather up the entirety of the grand story—from heaven to earth, from chaos to cosmos, from creation to new creation, from darkness to light, death to life, emptiness to fullness, and from brokenness to wholeness. And all of this until Jesus Christ comes again in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. 

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

10 Responses

  1. I have read and believe that when we are baptized into Christ, that we become part of the Grand Narrative known as the Bible. The story of the N.T. Church recorded in the book of Acts continues through today. The Church Age is the final chapter in God’s plan to reclaim, redeem, and renew all creation. We are blessed in having been called to participate in the divine nature to fulfill God’s plan. I personally was raised in and believe that when we participate in the Eucharist, we truly encounter the risen Christ, in other words “the real presence.”

  2. “Behold and become.” We need to do more than remember Jesus in the past.
    As heart-warming as that is, an occasional memorial or celebration of history isn’t enough for an awakening level of faith (a 10). We need to recognize and be reminded to be constantly aware of His presence and leadership in the now. “Do this to increase your awareness of My ongoing presence with you, in you, and through you.” Our faith needs to be far deeper than an annual collection of religious ceremonies. We desperately need to continually behold and become.

    For me the church calendar is a distraction from my daily relationship with and dependence on the presence of the now Jesus and what He wants me to think say and do moment by moment. If I rigidly follow an annual format, it may keep me from being led by the Spirit. It may cause me to read a Scripture that isn’t the one the Holy Spirit has chosen for me at that moment and to miss the one that He has.

    So why did Jesus follow the religious format of His day? The age of the Spirit had yet to be released. In the age of the Spirit, Christ-followers don’t become united by following the same script throughout the year. We become united by beholding and obeying the risen, present Jesus every moment.

    Would like for someone you love to keep their eyes fixed on a calendar that schedules every year that you have together in the same way? Or would you rather they interact with you personally from the heart. I think Jesus feels the same way.

    1. When I was a baby Christian I found comfort and structure in the liturgy and process. As I grew to learn and experience Jesus’ ever near presence I found peace in the sacraments. Today, we are in transition moving from active involvement and a church home to a solitude life without the format of the structured church. As I sit and contemplate the message today I find I miss the alter call and communion of saints greatly. I miss joining in the affirmation of faith with my family of faith. But I know that I know God is present. He sees. He hears. He provides.

      1. Blessings to you Patricia as you journey with and grow in Jesus. Members of the body of Christ are everywhere and you can meet with them anywhere. As it says in Hebrews, we need to meet together. Find a few believers and gather to be led by the Spirit together as in 1 Cor. 14:26. Pray together & stay in the Word together. God’s got you.

    2. I’m curious. What’s your religious background? It sounds like you may be coming from a more liturgical background and Christ has led you to recognize how much a calendar can lead to “phoning it in”.

      I’m Nazarene and to be honest, even the Methodists are too liturgical for me. My pastor has started preaching from the lectionary and I’m not fond of that. So, I’m probably coming from the opposite direction on the issue. I can be too lackadaisical about church rituals and miss the opportunity to connect to an eternal truth I might have missed. We live in a fallen world. Although we should ideally follow the Holy Spirit every moment, for now we “see through a glass darkly.” I have no desire to let ritual replace relationship, but today’s wake-up call makes me think that when I start with Christ rather than ritual, then ritual has value. I’ve got some growing to do.

      By the way, I realize I’m heaping liturgy, calendar, ritual into one big pot of structure versus spontaneity. That may be going farther than you meant when you said calendar.

      1. I was in an unchurched family till 10. I loved God and kept asking my parents to go to church. They started to a Presbyterian church. It was formal & dry & never told me that Jesus is real. In college I met Jesus in a Spirit-led meeting & have passionately pursued Him every since. I’ve been in numerous types of churches. Led a campus fellowship on Trececca Nazerine University for a year, etc. Jesus has led me to amazing places. I still follow Him and He’s never dull or boring.

  3. Communion was not emphasized in my life by my parents or by the local Methodist church where I attended.
    I have no memory of my parents and sisters and myself ever attending worship together as a family while I was living at home.
    As a toddler, my mother has told me of my running away from my grandmother’s house and following my parents to the church where they were meeting, and joining them.
    Both of my parents were confessing Believers.
    They encouraged me in my involvement with the church but not by joining me, after I became old enough to go by myself.

  4. Carole: That’s similar to my childhood. See my comment above. I live following the living Jesus rather than a religious system. I take communion frequently with my wife a d often with other believers. It’s powerful a s helps me remember that Jesus is really alive, present, and in me.

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