Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Two, Thursday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 2: 8-20

Entering the Lenten season can be pretty abrupt. In the midst of our normal lives, all of a sudden we’re encouraged to press the pause button and hop back on the bus marked “Lent” once more. The sign that says “This way to Easter” catches us off guard and we scramble to know how best to participate in the journey to the cross. We’ve traveled this way and to the same destination before. The scenery looks pretty similar. So, how do we embrace this year’s pilgrimage in a new and soul-refreshing way?

When the shepherds were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night, they were shocked when the bright star was shining that night when Jesus was born. We look back to that occasion as we enter Lent, for it was at that moment when the promise of his coming into the world was fulfilled. In Lent we anticipate his departure from his earthly life and ministry and his return to his eternal home with the Godhead in heaven.

The shepherds’ utter surprise at the shining of such a brilliant beacon of light in the midst of their darkness led them into worship. When the glory of the Lord shone around them they were terrified. But, the angels came praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to them on whom his favor rests.” The shepherds response was classic worship: let’s go and see…so they hurried and found Jesus…and after seeing Jesus they left ecstatic with their discovery and shared the good news with all who were witnesses of their glorifying and praising God.

Like the humble hearted shepherds who were adorned with the presence of Jesus, so should we long for the same this Lenten season. We know the meta-narrative that awaits us in our journey to Holy Week and Easter. We’ve traveled this path in previous years and with similar companions. But, what can be different this time: eyes alert to the ways Jesus stretches out his arms for us in our comings and goings. And, when we behold him in our midst, to glorify God and offer fresh testimony to others.

Will you purpose to keep your eyes wide open so you can see Jesus this Lent? He may appear to you in the reading of his Word and the singing of his love in worship, or in the breaking of bread in fellowship with others of like heart and mind, or in your quiet place of alone time in prayer. Jesus may come to you this Lenten season through a warm embrace of a friend, or the kindness of a helpful deed, or even in a difficulty, pain or sorrow when you have only one place to turn.

Behold him in the starry night, believe him in the break of day, belong to him in the fellowship of the saints, and become like him in your worship and witness.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.