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Mission Devotional - December 10, 2016

Opening Prayer:
Sometimes the wind that strips everything
is the strong breathing of yes.

The river of life wears away your little island
and bears you somewhere fertile.

Receive the gift only departing can bestow,
the holy not in what is anointed

but in what is next,
the beginning beyond the silence beyond the end.

In the thickest darkness is a door felt, not seen.
It gives.

In confidence
God is uncompleting the journey for you.

Lay your hand on the dark door. A voice
from the other side says, "Come, join my becoming."
- Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Scripture: Mark 10:46-52

Journal: What do you want him to do for you during this season of Advent?

Reflection: Desire is a key way that God speaks to us, whether in Advent or the rest of the year. Our holy desires are gifts from God.

Holy desires are different than surface wants, like "I want a new smartphone" or "I want a bigger office." Instead I'm talking about our deepest longings, those that shape our lives: desires that help us know who we are to become and what we are to do. Our deep longings help know God's desires for us, and how much God desires to be with us. And God, I believe, encourages us to "notice" and "name" these desires, in the same way that Jesus encouraged Bartimaeus, the bling beggar in the Gospels, to articulate his desire. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked the blind man sitting by the roadside. "Lord, I want to see," says Bartimaeus.

Why does Jesus ask Bartimaeus a seemingly idiotic question? After all, Jesus knew that the man was blind! For one thing, Jesus may have wanted to offer him the freedom to ask, to give the man the dignity of choice, rather than simply healing him straightaway. For another, Jesus knew that recognizing our desires means recognizing God's desires for us. Jesus may have asked Bartimaeus what he wanted because our longings help us learn something about who we are. It's so freeing to say, "This is what I desire in life." Naming our desires may also make us more grateful when we receive the fulfillment of our hopes.

Expressing our desires brings us into a closer relationship with God. Not naming them sets up a barrier. It would be like never telling your best friend your inmost thoughts. Your friend would remain distant. When we tell God our desires, our relationship with him deepens.

Desire is also a primary way people are led to discover who they are and what they are meant to do. On the most obvious level, two people feel emotional and spiritual desire for one another, and in this way discover their vocations to love. A person feels attraction to becoming a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher, and so discovers his or her vocation. Desire helps us find our way. But we first have to know them.

The deepest-held longings of our hearts are our holy desires. Not only desires for physical healing, as Bartimaeus asked for (and as many ask for today) but also the hope for change, for growth, for a fuller life. And our deepest desires, those that lead us to become who we are, are God's desires for us. They are ways that God speaks to you directly, one way that, St. Ignatius of Loyola says, the "Creator deals directly with the creature." They are also one way that God fulfills God's own dreams for the world, by calling people to certain tasks.

...Desire is a key part of Christian spirituality because desire is a key way that God's voice is heard in our lives. And our deepest desire, planted within us, is our Advent desire for Christ, the Desire of the Nations. - James Martin, SJ

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Michael and Diana Johnson serve with People International. As International Director, Michael provides broad vision and leadership for the mission. Pray today for the unreached people groups that People International seeks to reach.

YOKE mentors middle school children by building friendships with Christian adults through clubs, camps, and Kid Time (hanging out with kids in their world). Currently YOKE reaches out to nearly 20,000 students at 26 middle schools located in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, and Knox counties. Pray today for the Yoke volunteers as they connect with middle schoolers this next semester.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are filled with desire for your coming. Come, Lord Jesus! Come into our world, come into our lives, come deeply into our souls, and give us your peace. Amen.