Sunday, December 26, 2010

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.     John 1:14  NIV

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  
Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;   Colossians 3:16 ASV

Infant holy, infant lowly,
For His bed a cattle stall;
Oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ, the babe, is Lord of all.
Swift are winging, angels singing,
Noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
Vigil till the morning new
Saw the glory, heard the story,
Tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
Praises voicing greet the morrow:
Christ the babe was born for you.

The baby, totally dependent, helpless to care for himself, at the mercy of poverty and homelessness was also the Word of God made flesh. I find this incomprehensible and at the same time this mystery penetrates me and stirs great hope and possibility. The fact that God chose to send His only begotten Son to take on flesh and live like us and with us and as one of us declares the infinitely great value He gives to humanity. The Word, the Logos, the creative force that formed the heavens and the earth and holds all things together, chose to yield himself to complete powerlessness. Christ the babe was born for you and me.

I work retail. In the month of December we will see more than 20% of the year’s sales. A third of those sales will be made in one week. We call it retail madness. And every year I struggle to balance the work I have been given to do and my desire to “let the Word of Christ” be born in me anew. I look for the Word to pierce the madness with truth and light. I am reminded everyday that Christ came into a world in conflict. I see daily the battle for supremacy between greed, hording and all expressions of insidious pride and hope and grace and generosity. It is into darkness, poverty, loneliness, and all stalls of imprisonment that the baby was born.

This year has been somewhat of a different one for me. In part, it is because my immediate family has agreed to give no gifts except a commitment to spend a weekend together in January. We have rented a house in my husband’s hometown and we will gather together from Ohio, D.C, and North Carolina and give one another the gifts of time and space. We will see extended family. We will remember and we will look forward. For me, this plan has been a blessing of freedom, both realized and anticipated.

This year is also different as it is the first Christmas season without my father. I dreamed not too long ago that my step-mother told me he was not dead, but taking a nap. So, I went to find him. I entered a long hallway that was brilliant white and with many doors lining both sides. I didn’t know which room was his. I woke with a sweet yet mournful feeling as though he were present yet absent at the same time. The taste of that dreamed stayed with me for days.

My father taught me as much in his dying as through his living. He held life gently and so encouraged me to seek to learn to live the same way. Since his death, I have found myself practicing disciplined acts of relinquishment. And in doing so through this season of advent I was reminded that preparation for Christ’s coming must involve laying down and putting off. I must fling off all that hinders. I must lay myself bare of all self’s want of power and control. I have imagined a ritual of stripping off all my clothes and throwing them in the fire and then putting on new garments of wool and linen.

To be born anew with and in the Infant Holy requires a surrender of all rights and privileges, power and authority, ought-to’s and should-be’s in exchange for the blessed state of the Infant Lowly. All of self is to be uncovered and laid bare and simple. We cannot cling to or horde what we deem necessary or most valuable. We must fling open the doors to our stored up and protected self. Then, the Word can dwell in us richly. He has come to penetrate our very beings, even to the divide of soul and spirit. He has come to dwell amongst us, with us, between us, and within us. Let him in.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Notes On What To Do While Waiting

My soul waits .. hopes
With you is forgiveness .. unfailing love.. redemption
-from Psalm130

I await my Savior who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform my lowly body so that it will be like his.
-from Philippians 3

How long, O Lord, must I call for help? There is strife and conflict.
Look and be amazed.
The revelation awaits an appointed speaks of the end ..though it lingers wait for it.
O Lord, I have heard. I stand in awe. Renew in our day .. in our time make known. Remember mercy. Decay crept into my bones. Yet, I will wait. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines .. the olive crop fails ..the fields produce no food ..there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls..Yet, I will rejoice. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord is my strength.
-from Habakkuk

Even so, Lord, quickly come to your final harvest home.
Gather all your people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
there forever purified in your presence to abide.
Come with all your angels, come, raise the glorious harvest home.
- from the hymn Come, Ye Thankful People Come, vs 4

Sing. Tell. Glory in His name. Rejoice. Look to the Lord. Seek. Remember. Proclaim. Declare. Ascribe. Bring an offering. Worship. Tremble. Give Thanks. Cry out, “Save us.”

You are thirsty.
You have no money.
Come, buy without money.
Eat what is good.
Seek the Lord.
Call on Him.

Forsake your wicked ways and thoughts.
Turn. I will have mercy. I will pardon.
For, my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
My thoughts are higher than yours.
My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I and peace.
-from Isaiah 55

Simeon waited.
Anna fasted and worshiped and prayed
-from John

Prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for Him.
Every valley shall be filled in.
Every mountain and hill will be made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight.
The rough roads shall become smooth.
All mankind will see God’s salvation.
-from Isaiah

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Share with him who has none.
Act justly, fairly.
Do not accuse falsely.

Jesus saw them following and asked,
“What you you want? .. Come and you will see.”
-from the gospels

Get ready to cross over.
I will I promised.
I will be with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Be strong and courageous.
Be careful to obey.
Meditate on the word.
Do not be terrified or discouraged.
For the Lord your God will be with you.
Get ready.
Go in and take possession of the land I am giving you.
-from Joshua 1

Listen. Give ear. Come. Hear me.
That your soul may live.
I will make a covenant with you...promised faithful love.
Seek the Lord.
Call on him.
Forsake your wicked ways and thoughts.
Turn to the lord.
-from Isaiah

Be anxious for nothing. Pray. Be thankful. Rejoice.
Think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praise worthy.
-from Philippians 4

Believe. Live by the truth and come into the light.
Depend on God.
Glorify God.
Worship God.

Your righteousness must be “otherly”
    Blessed are 
      the poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry, thirsty, merciful,
      pure in heart, and peacemakers ,...
Be salt and light …
Be reconciled to one another .. forgiving radically ..
Let it go.
-from the gospels

There must be acceptance and knowledge that sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmutted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.
-Pearl S. Buck

In the hunt for solace we discover who we are and such a discovery can lead us to the revelation of inner peace.
-Chris deVinck

Love your enemies. Pray for them.
Your Father knows what you need.

Forgiveness is the mark of the Father on and through His children.

Forgiveness is a blessing...the act of mercy and grace. Receive it. Give it.

Behold, I will create new heavens and new earth.
The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
Weeping and crying will be no more.
-Isaiah 65

Release the captive.
Extend grace.

Do something ridiculous that you know God wants you to do.

The law of the Spirit of life set me free.
God sent His son to be a sin offering.
So, I live, setting my mind on what the spirit desires .. Life and Peace.
The creation awaits in eager expectation .. subjected to frustration in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into glorious freedom of the children of God. We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption and redemption of our bodies.
I hope for what I do not yet have. In this hope I am saved.
In all things God works for good.
I am more than a conqueror.
I’ll never be separated from God’s love.
-from Romans

Psalm 130

A song of ascents.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD;
2 Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
  to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
  Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
  so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
  more than watchmen wait for the morning,
  more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
  for with the LORD is unfailing love
  and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
  from all their sins.