Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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…

Gratefulness…

Another year’s Christmas-ing has come and gone. All of the Adventing, Jesse-Tree-ing,decorating, and anticipation culminating in a giant smattering of presents to open, meals to enjoy, and time with family/friends. Christ has arrived, and therefore things are incredibly different in God-filled ways.

This year, our girls each received one “large item” from Saint Nick (though I’m pretty sure our oldest is beginning to understand all may not be as it appears). They LOVE their gifts, and proudly announced to the entire church as they walked through the halls that next Sunday morning: “I got a violin!!!” “I got a Kindle!” “I got an iPad!!” I’m sure no one paid any attention, but in my head it was “Oh really? You’re family in the midst of raising funds for an adoption was able to stack up quite a Christmas, eh?”

Not that it’s on me to defend, I will explain because I find it humorous…

Yes, we got a child’s violin for $50 off Craigslist. Yes, we got a “reading only” economy version of a Kindle on E-bay. Yes, we got a VTech play-learning device that Ruby refers to as her “iPad”.  I realize compared to most of the world, we are ridiculously wealthy.

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Nevertheless, I’m really excited how joyful my girls get over “little things”. You should’ve seen how long they spent pouring over the cheap candy in their stockings, even as giant wrapped packages waited under the tree.  I hope and pray we can retain this sense of gratitude even (and especially) as they grow older. Our world certainly is quick to point out things you don’t have, or upgrades you need to make. I’ve been reading Gordie Howe’s autobiography recently, “Mr.Hockey”, and it’s pretty incredible to read how he grew up in a very limited home and time – yet was incredibly thankful for all the things he had.

“Comparison Living” is something that increases more and more with every new social media app that’s invented. Even if we’re aware of it, and try not to be impacted by it, we cannot help but subconsciously be aware of things that exist, that we desire. Things/events other people enjoy, that we’d like to enjoy.

There are enough blogs and books already out there to help you combat this illness, I don’t intend to write long on it today. But as a parent, I want to protect my children from being carried away by this for sure. Which means having “The Talk” about it, even at the ages they currently are. It means helping point out the great things we have to be thankful for, even in the midst of not having something we’ve been praying a couple years for already. It means pointing out what God is doing in and through your family, even when miracles don’t seem to be happening this week.

This flows out and impacts so many areas of life, but begins right here – by developing parental hearts of gratitude. Becoming an adult who recognizes and practices how to be thankful today. My children will learn it best when they see mommy and daddy practicing it regularly. That’s something my wife constantly reminds us of, and seems to have understood long before I did.

So how does thankfulness impact the life you’re living this week? Will you allow a heart made grateful by God to set you free from “comparison living”, at least somewhat? 🙂 The next generation depends on us passing on the rich inheritance of contentedness…

everything must be captured.

It could simply be that I’ve just finished reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, but the new Apple holiday ad strikes me as illustrating an important question: How much is “enough”?

I know it may come across as “bah, humbug”, because everyone seems to love this ad.

But I’m not a huge fan.

Many years ago, we’d have been happy to have one still-shot picture that reminded us of an entire day, perhaps even an entire trip.  Then digital cameras hit, and we have unlimited shots.  Then video became easier to fit on small storage, so we need to get lots of videos, etc.  Now most of our cell phones have the capability to do what complex digital cameras did years ago.

So the above ad illustrates what they hope will be a positive message.  “Don’t misinterpret that young man in the corner using his cell phone most of the trip, because he may actually be using it to put together a warm, heart-felt family collage that will touch your heart.”  Riiiiiight.  Even if the teens hiding in technology corners this holiday season have these things in mind……my question is, “Is it worth it?”

Many of us have attended “Holiday” events already this season, where we sit back to take in the show, only to have several tiny screens pop-up in front of us – as eager parents (myself included) try to capture some images/video of the precious moment.  The same goes for every event that happens throughout our days.  I think I’ve posted on this before, but it deserves to be thought of, as many of us head into precious family hours together.

Sure, snap some pictures.  Snap some video.  But don’t elevate capturing the moment for later to become more important than being 100% present in experiencing the moment right now.  Create more memories, and less photo-books.  Our Grandparents seem like far less anxious people for a reason – it’s not just because they’re old.  It’s because most of them grew up knowing how to be completely present in the moment.  Not able to capture every sight and sound, they were content to actually breathe slow and deep these moments of being together….or alone.

Not to romanticize being “technology-less”…the video of family the boy makes is pretty great, and will be meaningful for the family as the years pass.  But let’s notice what he sacrifices to make that video too.  May our children know we value experiencing moments with them, more than capturing those moments for later…

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