Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Three, Friday

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 Matthew 2: 1-12

You might be thinking…why are we reading about the visit of the Magi on our journey to Easter? For one simple reason: to remember and give thanks, and with awe and wonder. We recall with delight the marvelous ways the wise men found their way to Jesus, and being overjoyed with their discovery “bowed down and worshiped him.” Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts.

In the stillness of the night the wise men followed the star with delight, and what they found brought complete joy to their hearts. Similarly, when all who are seeking Jesus find him, no matter if they are shepherds or magi, business leaders or college educators, homemakers or pastors, their souls are filled up with everlasting  love only Jesus can deliver. And, in the midst of the moment, they can’t help but offer back to him with outstretched arms the fullness of their lives.

Think about it for a moment…who else brought Jesus extravagant gifts in response to God’s outstretched arms of love extended to earth’s inhabitants in the life of Jesus? For the Magi, they knew he was someone extra special, a child sent from heaven “as the king of the Jews” and they did everything possible; even defy King Herod, to be near the baby Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem in Judea, just as the prophet Micah had foretold.

So, imagine the scene for yourself.  You are living in the time of King Herod and word comes to you that your king has been born in a manger, under the bright sky of winter. You pack up all your belongings and make sure you have a splendid gift to share with the child and his family. You travel over hill and dale to the place where the Christ child lays freshly newborn, still nursing and finding breath and life in the loving arms of his beloved parents. What is your response in this amazing encounter with the Christ child? Are you still in awe and wonder as you prepare to watch him head now to the cross?

This Lenten season, may I be so bold to encourage you toward spontaneous responses in worship, such as repentance and joy? And, in your interactions with others, to be generous with grace, mercy, forgiveness, and even tangible gifts of love? Each time I consider the waiting and watching of the Magi, followed by their journey to find Jesus, and then their response of gift giving, I’m struck by the contrast with my own life. How much of my life is consumed (or not) by anticipation of Jesus’ arrival in the everydayness of my existence? How willing am I to give back to him and others extravagantly, in the manner in which Jesus has given to me?

Behold him with awe…believe in him once more…belong to his tribe with firm resolve…and, become a generous lover, forgiver, and reconciler. May it be so!

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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.