“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted … because they are no more.”
Massacre of the Innocents (Peter Paul Rubens)
It is Advent, and we Christ-followers are celebrating Christmas. We have been singing carols of God’s deliverance, erecting beautifully painted replicas of Jesus’ nativity on mantels and in yards. But what we are really celebrating in Advent is the arrival of Creator God into the violent mess of a poisoned creation, all hope resting on someone as unlikely as a helpless, bastard baby born in the heart of the Middle East to a teenage girl of no popular consequence. The hope of the world would rest on a little Jewish infant wrapped in rags in the stinky stall of a barn, stuffed into a trough licked out by a cow or maybe a donkey who’d had their fill of supper in it. And it was because there was no other place to advent in, no other place that better resembled the stink and smell of naked creation. And so God came and made his dwelling in the slums of our world. Continue reading “Rachel Weeping”
A house built for Florida makes my feet cold on the morning our city breaks its low-temperature record. It’s not that it hasn’t been colder than 21 degrees Fahrenheit here before, but it’s not been that cold on the 8th of December. I don’t remember having this much trouble warming up, not when I spent hours playing in snow as a kid in the northeast and not in the ‘burbs of Chicago when I would walk the 13 blocks back to the college dorm in minus-zero wind chills after finishing the night shift. But then in both of those cases, my life involved a whole lot more physical activity, and I came home to rooms outfitted with storm windows and steam heat from oil burning boilers. Generally speaking, homes were winterized. But this is Florida, and I live in a house built in 1939. If there’s such a thing in the insulation industry as a negative “R” value, I think this house has one. It just wasn’t designed for winter. Continue reading “Winterizing, Christ Bearing & Spiritual Discipline”
The stress of my lists are badgering me, and as I talked with a friend this morning, I realized I’m not the only one battling what seems like an ache leading into the season of Advent. We can be a busy and weary crowd come December. I thought of those two things, busyness and weariness, juxtaposed with Advent, a season in which we Christians focus on the gift of a Savior. There is always something to distract me from this, my lists included, and I resent having to fight to focus on Advent this time of year. It makes me ache inside.
Then I read an article by Rob Bell, published by Relevant Magazine, and I was encouraged by his perspective. I found myself suddenly thankful that the busyness and weariness aren’t unlike the scene in Bethlehem at Christ’s advent. Those things that I feel distract me could be the very things that help me receive the gift– the promise that Christ’s advent will fill our aches and deepest longings.
If you have time, the article is worth the read.
The birth of God as Son of Man happened in the dark night. A young girl, bulging with the promised Savior, was forced to leave home on a lengthy journey that would bump her along dirty roads at the behest of a donkey and a king’s command to be counted. She was near the time of giving birth. As a woman who has birthed four children in sanitary hospital rooms, who was discouraged from travel during the final month of pregnancy, I can barely imagine Mary making her way to Bethlehem in such primitive conveyance. Yet she did, with the promise that she bore God himself.
Continue reading “A Cry in the Dark”