Be Not Afraid

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Christmas approaches with its usual frenzy of decorations, shoppers, carols, cookies, and lights—all wrapped in joy, peace, and goodwill that is often, sadly, as thin as colored tissue paper. But this year, it’s even harder to “get into the spirit.” Hearts are heavy with grief and fear, especially following the deadly and deliberate attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
Yet, another reality coexists with this present evil, just as it did on the first Christmas, when human misery also abounded—the reality of goodness.

The Desert: Waiting for God

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My sister and I recently visited the remote, high-desert country of Nevada’s Red Rock Canyon. The silence and breathtaking beauty of the rugged landscape drew me in, as desert places have drawn humankind since the beginning of time. Loss, failure, misunderstanding, betrayal, or simply craving more than what this world offers—all open our hearts to the desert’s call: seek God alone, in silence and solitude. In our inner deserts we wait for the God who waits for us there.

Farms, Shepherds, and the Cycle of Life

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My favorite image of Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-16). I’ve never come close to laying down my life to save our sheep from wolves or coyotes. I don’t camp outside with them in a desert, or lead them for miles to find food and water. But I do care deeply for these gentle creatures. In their quiet acceptance of God’s Will—just being what they are—they teach me to trust that “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23), no matter what.

The Genesis of What Did Jesus DO All Day?

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After leaving the convent and marrying, I taught high school Confirmation classes for my church. During one discussion of the Gospels, I reminded my students that Jesus was a Jew. “He was NOT!” cried one teen, his face red with anger at what he perceived was an insult. Stunned, I began to collect outside articles to share with the class, historical and archaeological material on first-century Jewish culture in the Holy Land. The idea for a teen book—one that would bring Jesus and His world to life, and show how Christianity sprouted from a Jewish foundation—began to grow.