How To Do Brave

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk

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There are many kinds of brave…the brave we want to be, the brave others are, the brave that comes in a moment of crisis, or the brave we only dream about because fear keeps us moving from dreaming to doing.

We admire brave people – and particularly brave women.  We admire them for stepping out when others stayed in, for speaking up when others stayed silent, and for risking much when others played it safe.

In January 2018, the Gather Women team had the privilege of hosting a one-day conference at Canada’s largest gathering of the church community called BreakforthOne in Edmonton.  Our theme for the day was She Is Brave.  We learned that our brave is not based on a series of unconnected chronos brave moments, but actually is ignited when we choose to step into a Kairos moment.  A Kairos moment is an indeterminate time when heaven intersects with earth and something irreversible and life-changing happens.  A Kairos moment was when Jesus showed up in our world – heaven meeting earth – and nothing was ever the same.

When we are ready to move from thinking brave to acting brave, and step into a moment prepared just for us, we have the opportunity to change the trajectory of history.  Think of Deborah, whose story is written in the book of Judges, Chapters 4 & 5. For years she was a prophetess and appointed judge, sitting under a tree, listening to the sad stories of her nation as they shared the frustrations of being bullied by their enemies.  One day she knew it was time to act, and in an instant, a Kairos moment – Deborah was transformed from a prophetess to a warrior.  Her Kairos moment led to Israel being defined as God’s people – a transformative change that could never be reversed.

Think of the Kairos moment when Jochebed, Moses’ mother, surrendered her most precious possession, her son, into the dangerous Nile River.  Everything changed in that moment because it created the possibility for the Hebrew people to be led out of their slavery in Egypt by Moses.   Think of Rahab the harlot who dropped her scarlet cord when Jericho was destroyed by Joshua and his armies, and therefore was saved with her family because they had been given an oath by Joshua and his men that they would bring her out safely.  Her Kairos moment when she dropped the scarlet cord changed everything and from her lineage Jesus was born.

Kairos moments are brave moments because they involve risk and faith in a time when others play it safe.  Brave moments are not brave for brave’s sake but point to a ‘hope against hope’ faith in a God who is able to do what He says He will do, and who is good.

There’s brave and there’s brave.  Are you ready to step into the kind of brave that displays not the faith you have in your self, but the faith you choose to have in a God who took the biggest risk in coming into your world?  His Kairos moment meant that you and I could live Kairos brave.  That, my friend, is how to do brave. 

Advent: Joy

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk

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 “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (Isaiah 12:6)

With all of our hearts we want to feel the joy and wonder of the most beautiful season of the year.  We yearn to be awestruck and captivated by the beauty and wonder of an Incarnate God who became small enough and human enough to fit into our world, without diminishing Himself or becoming any less fully divine.

Joy becomes a possibility as we consider the reflection of dancing, twinkling lights, illuminated stars, and anticipation in a child’s eyes receiving gifts they have dreamed about all year long.

And yet true joy, though possible, eludes us like a vapour. We want to believe that joy comes in the morning and in the mourning, but our joy is transient and tied tight to our contentment with our circumstances. 

I am unable to access the wellspring of joy when I am looking outward to external sources. I am disappointed and joy-less when the Advent season falls short in satisfying my shallow expectations of social, relational and even performance needs.

Jesus Himself recognized that joy can be fleeting and encourages us to look to Him as the source of joy.  “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)  Joy is only found in the secret place where the Holy One has taken His place inside of our hearts. We find Joy there in the grief, in the unmet expectations of the season, and in the quiet moments. We find Joy there in the singing and even shouting of “Joy to the world!” Joy emanates from the Christ Child who is found in our hearts out to the world. Joy was never meant to be found from the outside in. May we light the Joy candle in our hearts and then share it with the waiting world.

PRAYER

“They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”
Isaiah 35:10

Father, help me look inward before I look outward for the source of true Joy. Help me look forward to anticipate an eternity where I will experience everlasting Joy, before I look backward to my unmet expectations. Thank you for making Joy possible. Thank you for making Joy permanent – it is the only thing I have that overtakes and overwhelms me. Sorrow and sighing undermine and underwhelm my living in the moment and will not be part of my eternal future.  Thank you for making Your presence the reason I can sing for Joy. Take my singing and turn it into shouting glad tidings. I must shout Joy loud enough so the world will hear and turn away from the lights on the tree to the Light of the World. Would you help me wear everlasting Joy as a crown each day of Advent, and each day of every year, now and through eternity. May your Joy emanate from my heart so I radiate Your presence always. Amen.

The Painful Price Of Peace- Second Sunday of Advent

Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk 

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II Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

I gaze at my simple nativity set, handcrafted in wood, complete with Baby Jesus asleep in the manger, sheep and shepherds nearby, and the Wise Men kneeling with their gifts.  The Star wobbles from atop the arch of the stable, and all is innocent, serene, and seemingly untouched by the dark world that surrounds the lit vignette.

There is no indication in the image of this peaceful and quiet night that thirty-three years later the veil would be torn in half, and Jesus’ physical body would give up its’ soul to be once again in the right hand of His Father.  There is no indication that the Prince of Peace would have to suffer excruciating pain to bring the peace the world so desperately needs.  There is no understanding in Mary’s heart that she would have to give up her precious Son to hands of human hate and see Him choose to walk straight into a violent, bloody and lonely death.  All this the price for our peace.

We take the manger scene and the calm it evokes and want it to be the miracle for all that is keeping us from living joyfully, with confident hope.  We may not want to admit that pain was the only path to an eternal peace, and for us, it is pain that is the greatest gift for our transformation into Christ-likeness.

Peace comes at a price and has a power that cuts through every dark thought, every dark act, every unimaginable sin.  Would I receive it as a gift, and not squander it by allowing my fear to cohabitate with this immeasurable promise?  How much more valuable is it that peace can only come to us and was bought for us through His pain? 

Lord, I receive Your peace this second Sunday of advent. If Your peace had the power to shake the universe, it has the power to envelope me and keep me in perfect peace while the world spins out of control around me. 

May the Lord of peace Himself, give me peace at all times and in every way. The Lord is with me, the Lord is with you, Emmanuel.

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome To Our World
Welcome To Our World
(Chris Rice)