24 December 2008

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight

Sometimes I see biblical characters through rose-colored glasses. I think about my own failings and wistfully imagine what it would have been like to be a Super-Christian, those who just had a smidge of extra holiness, an unavoidable effect of having lived in such proximity to the Messiah. While I get caught up in hooplah over trappings and commercialism, or worry about temporal struggles that can make Christmas tough to celebrate, I can easily assume that this kind of attitude would have been foreign to those saints gone before. Celebrating the Incarnation (at its appointed time and thereafter) must have been without the crippling worldliness and difficulty that we experience. Wouldn't that be nice??? And yet they were sinners like me. They worried about paying their taxes to corrupt governors, travel that could be hazardous, persecution, providing for their families...on and on. Human nature being consistent as it is, I suppose they had to consciously focus their thoughts on the joy of 'God become flesh' and not let their own flesh (or anything else) distract them from the pursuit of celebration. And though it must certainly have looked different, they celebrated the same things that we do today. Salvation. Adoption. Freedom. Life. And its that one Life that leads us to life eternal that I consciously choose to meditate upon today. Immanuel! Our God is with us!

For all those who live in the shadow of death,
a glorious light has dawned!
For all those who stumble in the darkness,
Behold! your Light has come!

~Michael Card

23 December 2008

let loving hearts enthrone Him

The Magnificat -- Luke 1:46-55

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever

21 December 2008

all is calm, all is bright

Today was a busy Lord's Day, and 4th Sunday of Advent, and I haven't had a chance to sit down and decide on something to post. But I thought I'd quickly share that in church this morning, during our annual Christmas program, the SlaughterHouse 7 sang "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus", the song that I have been teaching the kids during the Advent season. They did such a wonderful job, singing out so loudly and confidently that Dave and I got many comments afterward from people wondering how we get our kids to do that. That struck me as so funny, because our kids have loved learning the carol and were excited to hear that we'd sing it as a family. Its nice when others notice my kids doing something well or right, and I hope that it can also be a blessing to others. And of course, any time I don't look like a slacker Mom is just a bonus for me.

20 December 2008

soon it will be Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!.

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men!”

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864

19 December 2008

Jesus, our Emmanuel

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(Oh weary, weary was the world,
But here is all alright.)

Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee bed, soft, undefiled
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber, kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy does leap
My lips no more can silence keep,
I must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle song.

~G.K. Chesterton

17 December 2008

Son of God, love's pure light

Jesus, Lord, we look to thee,
On this day of thine own Nativity;
Show thyself the Prince of Peace;
Bid our jarring conflicts cease.
Let us for each other care,
Each the other's burden bear,
To thy church the pattern give,
Show how true believers live.
Make us one of heart and mind,
Courteous, pitiful, and kind,
Lowly, meek in thought and word,
Altogether like our Lord.

~Charles Wesley

16 December 2008

our God is with us

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government
or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

~Isaiah 9:6-7

14 December 2008

until the Son of God appear

Prayer for the Third Sunday of Advent:

Stir up thy power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be honor and glory,
world without end.

13 December 2008

a human baby bearing undiminished deity

"If Christmas means anything to you, then it must mean everything. It is a beginning and an end. It is a time of darkness and inexpressible light. It is a time of blessed relief at finally seeing all God's promises come true in one person. It is a time of tension as well as we look ahead in the life of this dear little one with a kind of historical omnipresence because we know how it all will end, on earth anyway. As our family gathers around our faint, flickering candle to read the Christmas story, the loneliness of the stable reminds us of the loneliness of another place on a hill outside Jerusalem. The rough trough seems almost as cruel a place as a cross. The infant cries we hear coming from the stable seem no less desperate than His final cry, and no less forsaken".

~Michael Card

12 December 2008

a thrill of hope

I'm sorry for my lapse yesterday...the long day provided no time for posting. Hopefully I'll be able to have something here for these last 13 days of Advent! I hope that your celebrations have been as meaningful as ours in the SlaughterHouse. For today, a quote from a precious saint:

"When I think of Christmas Eves, Christmas feasts, Christmas songs, and Christmas stories, I know that they do not represent a short and transient gladness. Instead, they speak of a joy unspeakable and full of glory. God loved the world and sent His Son. Whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. That is Christmas joy. That is the Christmas spirit".

~Corrie ten Boom

10 December 2008

here we are, as in olden days

Every tradition grows ever more venerable -- the more remote its origin, the more confused that origin is. The reverence due to it increases from generation to generation. The tradition finally becomes holy and inspires awe. Is this ill or fine? If the accumulated wisdom and the tested habits of the ages accounts for naught, then surely it is ill. But if such things afford security and sanity, then it is an auger of great good. Sense and sensibility should sway us toward the confident latter and not the impetuous former.

~James Gleason Archer

09 December 2008

a man of God's own choosing

During the month of November, I taught my kiddos the words to "Come,Ye Thankful People, Come", as one way of preparing our hearts for the celebration of Thanksgiving. They loved it, and still run around the grocery store singing it at the top of their lungs...nice! So for the Advent season I wanted to pick a song that they don't hear as often in our Christmas music (mostly because we listen to John Denver & the Muppets Christmas album and Harry Connick, Jr's 3 masterpieces...but I digress), but also a song that would be "singable" for short folks. I thought that "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus" was a good choice (and a personal favorite of mine). We sing it before each meal and during our nightly Advent reading, and so far they have memorized the first verse and about 1/2 of the second. Not surprisingly, last night Carrie was singing (uh...yelling?) it loudly in Walmart. Interestingly enough, the Maryland shoppers were less than amused...but I digress again. These are powerful words that Wesley wrote over 250 years ago, inspired by Haggai 2:7, "And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of Nations shall come and I will fill this house with glory".

Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born and child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

~Charles Wesley, 1744

08 December 2008

who but God would condescend for us?

“How can God stoop lower than to come and dwell with a poor humble soul? Which is more than if he had said, such a one should dwell with him; for a beggar to live at court is not so much as the king to dwell with him in his cottage.”

~William Gurnall

07 December 2008

God and sinners reconciled

Prayer for the Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God,
who didst send thy messengers the prophets
to preach repentance
and prepare the way for our salvation:
Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer;
who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
~from the Book of Common Prayer, 1789

06 December 2008

its that time of year

While at times the "secular" trappings of Christmas can seem to become a distraction from the intended focus of the Nativity, we need to remember that God hard-wired our brains to work within our memory. Some of the ways that we show our joy of the season may not be inherently "Scriptural" and yet nonetheless they manifest the celebration going on in our hearts better, at times, than our vocabulary can accommodate. A wiser woman than I could ever be has already expressed:

"There is something about saying, 'We always do this', which helps keep the years together. Time is such an elusive thing that if we keep on meaning to do something interesting, but never do it, year would follow year with no special thoughtfulness being expressed in making gifts, surprises, charming table settings, and familiar, favorite food. Tradition is a good gift intended to guard the best gifts".

~Edith Schaeffer

05 December 2008

hail, hail the Word made flesh

How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward the future, the manger is situated on Golgotha, and the cross has already been raised in Bethlehem.

~Dag Hammarskjold

04 December 2008

the Glory of the nations, a Light for all to see

The implications of the name "Immanuel" are both comforting and unsettling. Comforting because he has come to share the danger as well as the drudgery of our everyday lives. He desires to weep with us and to wipe away our tears. And what seems most bizarre, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, longs to share in and to be the source of the laughter and the joy we all too rarely know.

~Michael Card

03 December 2008

how great our joy

Blessed Babe! What glorious features
Spotless fair, divinely bright!
Must He dwell with brutal creatures?
How could angels bear the sight?
Was there nothing but a manger
Cursed sinners could afford
to receive the Heavenly Stranger?
Did they thus affront their Lord?
Yes may'st thou live to know and fear Him,
He who deigned to incarnate earth's days;
So go and dwell forever near Him,
See His face, and sing His praise.

~Isaac Watts

a glimmer of a day in the sun

I'm running way behind, but I have this fabulous friend Jen, who tagged me to post my 8th picture from my 8th folder, and since we've been friends for 1/2 of my life, I obliged ;-) I was hoping for one with all of us, but here's what I got, and now I'm sniffling in my morning coffee, remembering how little Liam was...still a baby. I think I'll be sniffling for a while.

So...who to tag? Who won't ignore me, and will obey? Hmmm...I'm gonna go with Kim May, Steph B, and Annie (yes YOU, sister).

02 December 2008

let every heart prepare Him room

"Most sensible people say that adults cannot be expected to appreciate Christmas as much as children appreciate it. But I am not sure that even sensible people are always right; and this has been my principle reason for deciding to be silly -- a decision that is now irrevocable. It may be because I am silly, but I rather think that, relatively to the rest of the year, I enjoy Christmas more than I did when I was a child. My faith demands that such be the case. The more mature I become the more I need to embrace the joys of the incarnation. The more mature I become, the more I need to be but a child".

~ G.K. Chesterton

01 December 2008

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

The Advent is precious. And it is not only precious to me, but to the whole of Christendom, including the saints gone before, who learned to embrace the celebration of the incarnation. Yesterday was the first Sunday of the Advent season, and I had hoped to post beginning then, but will be attempting to post something most days throughout. This is more a reminder for myself to meditate and reflect, but I certainly hope it can be a blessing to you as well. For today, this great quote:

"The true Christian religion is incarnational and thus does not begin at the top, as all other religions do; it begins at the bottom. You must run directly to the manger and the mother's womb, embrace the Infant and Virgin's Child in your arms and look at Him -- born, being nursed, growing up, going about in human society, teaching, dying, rising again, ascending above all the heavens, and having authority over all things".

~Martin Luther