Posts Tagged ‘advent’

Advent.

Advent, an event meaning “arrival”, no rival strong enough to keep this weakness out
Setting down clout and power, vulnerable as a flower
In a field, a creation to be healed, as his life peeled back the skin of what appeared,
It’s what the powers had feared, as his birth cleared paths for what could be.
Just when we thought we were knowing
Words became full and overflowing
Showing just what God meant when he spoke His love
What it looks like when down below is interrupted by up above
As the dove delivered hope to the ark, so this child embarked with hope
to stark lands flooded with sin
Revealed dry grounds of New Creation, where new life could begin
Where women and men, enemies and friends, poor and oppressed,
and those not well dressed
Where meek and overlooked, and those shook by the quakes of those in power –
would know now is the hour, now is the time of their release.
When strivings can cease, and peace arrives in moments mild,
a child too wild to explain, would be given the name Jesus.
Because he would save his people from their sins.

And so begins the story that breaks all mold, as it was told to shepherds and kings
And the truth still rings loudly in ways that offend the ear, God coming near,
Don’t Fear! Cried the angels, scaring those who gathered, as light shattered the darkness in ways unexplainable, the unattainable submitting to be contained,
as creation strained to hold in the divine

Lives like yours and mine still shutter at the mere uttering of
something so offensive
Apprehensive to understand where this could all be heading,
palms sweating as we know this child Mary is begetting is the one who calls
“Follow Me” to we who were once a stranger,
From the manger the call of the Son has begun, not waiting for us to understand,
but launching fully His Fathers’ plan. Not filled with demand,
but filled with invitation. Not mapping out implementation, but offering a heartbeat to echo, as we let go of our own rhythms, and discover the tune of New Creation.
A clear signal station broadcast in full surround,
seeds sown in the fertile ground of His Spirit.
We press into the crèche and begin to hear it.
Calling us to examine privilege and power,
the towers we’ve built remove us from those he loves
As we shove for views, or find more comfortable pews, we’re cruising right past
the injured brother, the least of these, the “other”, and as baby cries to mother
we realize this swaddled child inside has flung wide the gates,
we don’t wait long to deduce, that all Heaven has broken loose with what could be – the same word that spoke all things into being, now being held in the arms
of his creation. As this season offers to be more than vacation, and becomes a pause for all creation to remember: the day God became weak. Earth inherited by the meek, and the Word enfleshed can speak into our lives still this season.

What is the reason for His arrival this year?

Not that we fear falling short, for all have sinned and there’s no way we could ever begin to earn what was given by free grace, but place your arguments on hold, and let go of the bold claims you may have on what will be….to ask yourself with Mary – why me?

Why might God be keen to break from routine, and make a scene in the midst of your plans? To what lands might he call, and would you stall or fall in step behind, as he reminds you of the love with which he leads, the ways he intercedes on your behalf, the laugh of tiny baby – engulfed in manger, open to danger, knowing exactly how you feel. The connection is real. And so is his call – follow me.
Step out of comfort and power, step into the hour of shalom –
for the sake of your home becoming,
As drummer boys drumming remind you of the heartbeat of this season,
remember the reason.
May advent be more than just a word, but an absurd time of divine climbing into creation through the womb of your heart, and may it be the start of something New, as the Kingdom is proclaimed through you.

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Why Does God…

In class this month, we’re studying theories of the atonement. It’s really big worded stuff (actually a great book) about why smart people think Jesus did what he did the way he did. It’s easy to shrug it off as unimportant, but as I spend time reading the words about theories like “Christus Victor”, “Penal Substitution”, “Healing View”, and “Kaleidoscopic View” – I’m struck by just how huge a thing God has accomplished, and continues to accomplish through Jesus. Sin has actually been defeated. Death has no victory. Jesus has suffered, and we no longer need to. We have been reconciled with each other, creation, and most importantly – God. There are great reminders from each of these theories – each of which is humanity wanting to know God more fully.

It can be done wrong, when it’s a quest to assert our position as “The One” that’s right. When we’re trying to formulate an argument or assemble evidence toward our opinion of the divine. It can be akin to Adam and Eve wanting to assert their own knowledge in the garden as superior to Gods’.

But it can be done well, also. I love my wife. I want to know everything about her, and the motivations of her heart. I want to know why she chooses certain things and certain ways. I want to know – not because I want to possess knowledge or control, but because I love.

I think this is why the new song by Waterdeep connected with me as I listened this morning. The words of Mary in response to what God is doing through Jesus and through her. It’s vulnerable. She seeks to understand, even as she’s honest about her vantage point.

In the midst of writing academic papers, and using limited words to discuss the divine – I want to shove it all aside and sing. To hear song. To recognize for a moment that this right here is a vital part of “doing theology faithfully”. I doubt I’d get an “A” if I submitted an mp3 instead of my next paper, but I can certainly hum this as I click “submit”. 🙂

I hope it finds your heart and life this week, as we begin the Advent season preparing our lives & homes to receive Christ anew…

daddy worries.

It was earlier this week, as we sat around the breakfast table, gathered around “Fruit Spins”, milk, and the advent wreath.  Last week we’d talked about “Hope”, and it was easy to talk to the girls about what we each were hoping for.  The poignant moment coming when it came to our 4 year old daughter, and she was hoping for “God”.  I asked her to clarify….”What do you hope God will do?”

She smiled and said proudly, “Whatever God wants to do!”  Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the faith of a child. 🙂

So I was waiting this week, for what new nugget of wisdom my own kids were going to throw back at me as we moved into a week focusing on “Peace”.  But “peace” is a bit more complicated than “hope”.  So daddy decided to talk a little about why we need peace.  I asked the girls what they’re afraid of, and what makes them worry.  I received many of the expected responses:     monsters (no, not really, daddy), being sick, scary dreams, and “sometimes when I walk down the stairs and it’s dark in the middle of the night, I think maybe there are some animals coming down behind me who want to eat me.”

sophieDefinitely scary, and worth worrying about.  So we talked about peace, and then daddy decided to get down on their level, and talk about what makes daddy anxious/worried.  That’s when it hit me like a sack of bricks.  I covered it well, but I felt emotion in those moments that I don’t usually give word/time for.  The honest truth is this:

I worry about my family.  My wife.  My kids.  Every time I’m away from them, there’s that back of the mind “thing”.  I can’t wait to hold them again.  To be near them.  To know that they’re alright.  But even in the most peace-filled moments, I’m reminded by the world I’ve lived in so far – there’s no guarantee.  Even when Super-Dad is with them, my children, my wife, and my home are never 100% protected to the point where I have no reason to worry.  There’s always the chance of something unexpected happening.

I remember hearing the phrase growing up, “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  I would smile the silly smile of a young teen who’s confident this verse means no matter what happens in life we’re supposed to smile…to prove we’ve got some sort of “inner peace” that doesn’t make sense to the world.  But twice that age now, and having experienced quite a few situations where a smile is not the appropriate response – I’m thankful for the context to verse 7.

“Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people.  The Lord is near.  Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks.  Then the peace OF GOD that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe IN CHRIST JESUS.” Philippians 4:5-7 (emphasis added)

It’s not about me coming up with the ability to have peace in the midst of life circumstances.  It’s not about me never having a concern.  It’s centered on approaching every concern I have in the context of God, who can handle the big picture.  In the context of Christ being more than capable of keeping our hearts and minds safe.  I’m not to have peace because I have peace.  I’m to have peace because God has peace.

Not in a way that denies horrible things happen.  Because they certainly have, and do, and will.  Nor do we deny these horrible things will shake us to our core sometimes.  We will experience pain, and offense, and brokenness.  But the promise of peace still comes to us, in the presence of Jesus Christ.  The child born in a manger, in whom God proclaims to all of creation, us included, “I am with you.”

And in that….we receive God’s peace which transcends our understanding/abilities.

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