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.


  1. what a beautiful post. I am in awe of all that goes on in your soul day by day. I pray you'll all have a blessed time together in that January weekend.

  2. Dreams about the departed must be common. I know I have dreamed many times about my parents in the four years since they died. In all these dreams, they are as they had been years before, not feeble or confused or helpless as they were in their final years. After my sister died 48 years ago, I dreamed that she was miraculously alive! In my dream, she and her best friend, another 17-year-old I knew well, had swapped identities, and it was her friend, not my sister, who had died in that automobile accident. Our subconscious keeps alive those we love.