As a child growing up in the Roman Catholic tradition, I was always excited to see my parents bring out the Advent wreath and place it in the center of our dinner table. With its arrival, I knew that Christmas was coming soon. Set with four candles, three purple and one pink, to be lit in a particular order, one for each Sunday leading up to Christmas, I understood that the Advent Season is a special time of waiting and preparing for the coming birth of Jesus in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.
My parents made sure I also understood that Christian families around the world were gathering in their homes, just like my family, to light candles on their Advent wreaths and read the same Scripture passages about hope, peace, joy, and love. The spirit of unity and solidarity made a deep impression on my heart.
by Elli Atchison
Throughout Scripture, God’s demand for justice is repeatedly seen. His righteousness cannot allow sin to go unpunished forever. However, in His patient love, God often withholds the punishment that His justice demands, giving every opportunity for His people to repent and return their hearts to Him. (2 Peter 3:9)
Jesus came to this earth to be THE answer to God’s ultimate call for justice. Though He was blameless in every way, Jesus willingly took the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself. He suffered on the cross and paid the ransom of God’s justice through His own blood. This ultimate act of amazing love and mercy by Jesus was to prevent His beloved children from facing the consequences of justice that our sins rightfully deserve. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17) Read more
by Elli Atchison
During Lent and Holy Week, it is appropriate for us to reflect on places in today’s time where there is loss, poverty, and pain. Throughout His life, Jesus was closest to people who had succumb to illnesses, were ignored by society, and who were experiencing rejection and suffering. This series Jesus Was No Stranger seeks to look at some of those places in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. How would Jesus respond to some of the experiences of both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians today?
Over the next week we’ll offer prayers on the themes of:
Jesus was no stranger to . . .
. . . .life under occupation
. . . .obedience and humble service
. . . . a life of poverty
. . . . death and sorrow
. . . . persecution and pain
. . . . the cry for justice
Then we will wrap up the series with “Thy Kingdom Come” after Easter. Read more
by Elli Atchison, World Vision
Two weeks ago I was privileged to be part of a World Vision delegation in the Holy Land. Twenty women gathered from all corners of the United States to visit people living and working in Israel and the West Bank. Most of the ladies had never been to the region before. Those of us who were returning yearned to understand the issues better.
Together we journeyed throughout the land, seeking perspectives from Israelis and Palestinians. We were also seeking spiritual insights and the wisdom of Jesus that could help us make sense of this tragic conflict.
We met so many amazing people who told the stories of their very different lives. Our days were full of listening, learning, and asking questions. And continually I challenged my companions and myself: ”You hear stories of pain on both sides of this conflict. You see the hardships of life under occupation. But, where do you see Jesus?” Read more