December 1, 2013

Thin Places

In the Celtic tradition, a “thin pace” is the place where the veil that separates heaven and earth is nearly transparent. It is a place where we experience a deep sense of God’s presence in our everyday world. A thin place is where, for a moment, the spiritual world and the natural world intersect.

There are moments when we do feel the divine breaking through into our world. We feel unified and connected with God. It is not an intellectual knowing; it is felt in the spirit. It can be a sudden momentary awareness or profound unexplainable experience. The phenomenon of a place where the physical and natural everyday world merges into a thin line is well rooted in biblical history, but it was the Celts who gave the descriptive phrase, “thin place,” to it.

Throughout the Advent season beginning December 1, we will explore 25 moments in scripture when heaven met earth and created “thin places.” As we study these history-changing events, we see our God constantly reaching out to his people – loving them despite their failures, drawing them close to him, and enabling them to accomplish the miraculous.

Hopefully, an awareness of “thin places” in the Bible will help us recognize “thin places” when they occur in our own lives. From hearing the first cry of an infant, experiencing a Spirit-filled night at camp, or gazing at a sunset over the ocean to singing an amazing worship song, engaging in an intense Bible study, or being present as a cherished loved one takes his final breath, God creates “thin places” for us to experience anywhere at any time. Our job is to open our eyes to the wonder and mystery of being loved by the God of heaven and earth who is constantly drawing us to his side.

The Jesse Tree and Thin Places

Starting December 1, we will decorate our Jesse Trees with ornaments illustrating each “thin place” we will read about in our Daily Bible Readings. Each day, a new ornament will be added to the tree until the tree is completely filled on Christmas Day!

An envelope filled with 25 ornament cut-outs and a poster of a tree will be provided for families to have a Jesse Tree of their own at home. These packets will be available free of charge at a table across from the north Information Center beginning Sunday, November 25. Feel free to use the materials provided, or you can make or purchase a more elaborate tree and decorations of your own.

Eden - Genesis 2:8-25

Eden was the first home of Adam and Eve, and was most definitely a “thin place.” God planted a beautiful garden and gave it to them to live in, work in, and enjoy. Like a parent of a newborn, God took care of Adam’s every need. Adam and Eve knew nothing of the ugliness of sin or the sting of death - until the day they were tempted to cross the one and only line God specifically told them not to cross. Succumbing to the temptation, they were cast out of the garden; their sin created a chasm between themselves and God and left them in desperate need of a savior.

It was no accident that it was in a garden that Jesus fully surrendered to his Father’s will and then went on to die on a cross for the sins of the world. “So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit,’” 1 Corinthians 15:45.

As you prepare to observe this first day of advent, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the sin in your life. Think about how lost you would feel without the hope and forgiveness we have through Christ.