We’ve been waiting a long time for Jesus to return. I’m starting to feel like we’ve been stood up. What would it mean to give up on the notion that Jesus shall return to make it all okay?
Some time ago, I rejected the terrible vision of Jesus’ return as laid out in the book of Revelation. I recognize that the gospels occasionally present Jesus as endorsing violence against those who are opponents of the kingdom of God. I can even imagine that some kind of “crushing of the enemies of the kingdom” was a part of Jesus’ worldview. But I don’t think it is Jesus’ best material, and I see the cross and resurrection as a rejection of this way of thinking. At the moment where we might imagine God intervening to vanquish the enemies of God’s kingdom, God is absent. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus declares that he has been forsaken by God. At the meal that celebrates God’s violent intervention to save the Jewish people, Jesus asks his followers to remember the moment when God did not choose to intervene violently. Jesus’s death is not necessary; it is tragic. Jesus dies in solidarity with all victims of violence, especially the victims of state and religious violence. We should be horrified at Jesus’s death and should vow to stop the senseless scapegoating of other humans. In this way, the resurrection can be understood as God’s rejection of the cross as a means of keeping the peace.
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.
As we celebrate the final Sunday of Advent, as well as Christmas Eve, it is only fitting to focus on Jesus—Emmanuel, God With Us—who is Love. With so much discussion in the news about the actions of the powerful, of nations, states, and politicians, let us remember our savior, who came into the world in the most vulnerable of circumstances. He came as a baby, born in the most dire of circumstances, to parents who weren’t even wed. And yet, his birth changed everything. Through him we are able to see God, because he is God. 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
by Elli Atchison, World Vision
Mary Magdalene has always been one of my Bible heroes. I can relate to her. Meeting Jesus changed her life. The Gospel of Luke tells us that she had demons in her past. But Jesus set her free, and she loved Him deeply for it.
Though she is not officially named as one of the twelve disciples, it is believed that she was one of His companions. She traveled with Him and listened to His teachings (Luke 8:2-3). She probably witnessed many of His miracles. She was one of the few friends who stood at the foot of the cross and watched her beloved Savior suffer and die (John 19:25). And before sunrise, three days later, it was Mary who was the first to return to the tomb alone (John 20:1).
It is obvious that Mary loved Jesus so much that she just wanted to be close to Him, even after His death. When she discovered His body was missing from the tomb she stooped down at the entrance and wept. (John 20:1-11). Blinded by grief, she did not even recognize the Beloved when He greeted her. But, as you can imagine, when Mary finally realized that Jesus was alive, her joy was too much to contain. I imagine she just wanted to rush into His arms and never let go! Read more
by Elli Atchison, World Vision
As the hype around the Israeli elections comes to a close, the watching world questions if new peace talks are possible in the near future. The international community has been supportive over the years. They have encouraged the peace process and provided financial and diplomatic aid to protect Israel’s security and democracy in the region. However, frustration seems to be growing and patience is getting thin. There are many questions about the future of the Holy Land, but the one thing that is certain is that status quo of life in Israel and the Palestinian Territories cannot continue.
All people living in the Holy Land have unmet needs. Israelis want to feel safe and secure. Palestinians want live in freedom without the occupation. All want economic opportunities that will improve the lifestyles of their families and their hopes for a better future. These are common needs and basic desires from two groups of people who were created by the same God. Read more
by Elli Atchison & Natalie Wisely, World Vision
While acts of terror and violence made headlines, a group of young adults gathered to learn about peace and reconciliation in Washington, D.C. These diverse activists came from across the country, with a shared interest in actively promoting peace in the Holy Land.
The summit was hosted by Millennial Voice for Peace (MVP) and World Vision. MVP members are strongly motivated by the core Christian values to love and pray for one’s enemies (Matt.5:44) and step into the call to be part of the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20), just as Jesus served in His life.
The underlying message of MVP is clear. It affirms the God given dignity of all people, regardless of race or religion (Gal. 3:26-29). And it believes that only advocacy that hears, recognizes, and validates the concerns and needs of both the peoples will be effective in creating lasting peace. Read more