Sunday, December 25, 2016

Speechless Christmas

It’s really quite unlike me.  Words have always come easy to this a mile-a-minute girl. Some might say, Too easy.

As far as I can remember, I could talk.  Very quickly writing followed all that talking.

Most of my life, I’ve been expressing myself through words.

Spoken words.

Written words.

But this year… this year that changed.

I’ve been struggling to put into words the thoughts and emotions of this year’s Christmas season like never before.

It’s not that I stopped thinking and feeling – quite to the contrary!

It’s just that I continually find myself laboring over finding the right words to clothe those squirmy thoughts, those wiggly feelings sloshing around my soul. I browse through my internal dictionary and thesaurus, pick a word, maul it over, only to discard it as woefully insufficient.

There is a mile-high garbage pile of words resting in the cluttered corners of my mind.

How do you condense life into a mere string of syllables? How do you confine what moves and breathes, sighs, laughs and weeps into motionless scribbles, quick sound-bites and 140 character tweets?

I am frustrated and humbled by the process.  I feel out of control and vulnerable. 

I feel like my tongue is glued to the roof of my mouth and my pen has dried up.

I am through with you words!, I want to say. I am done with you and your impotent, insufficient ways! From now on, I am a gardener!

Then a thought catches me by surprise,

Maybe there is something to this… perhaps that’s what Christmas, sort of, is … might be… could be... all about…

The Word – The Word! -  that spoke world into existence, the Word who talked to Moses and children of Israel, poured his heart out to prophets and kings… The Word who spoke and was ignored, dismissed, misunderstood, thwarted… the Word who fell silent for 400 years…

The Word finally said,  

Enough is enough. I am done with mere words. I am going all out here… I am going… human! I am going naked! Male child… A boy… No more mere words… no more empty talk… I am going out on a limb here… No shortcuts… no shorthand…. From start to finish, with My people… from the beginning to the end… their God. In their joy. In their sorrow. Their joy, my joy. My joy their joy. Their sorrow my sorrow. My sorrow their sorrow…

And so it begun. God-Man, wordless, speechless babe cradling inside its soft flesh the living breathing Word.

 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
John 1:14

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Shortest Distance the Longest Journey

Bethlehem lays six miles south of Jerusalem. Six miles isn’t really that far. It’s within reasonable walking distance, a day trip. But some of us find it incredibly hard to turn away from Jerusalem’s thrills – exhausting as they can be - away from the endless supply of adrenaline rush we spiritual junkies crave so much.

Most of us don’t do it willingly.

Most of us rarely choose this path.

More often than not, we are thrown on it.  Our Jerusalem party is interrupted by a phone call, a tap on the shoulder…

… and we set out on what feels like the most treacherous voyage. 

The darkest night. 

The loneliest place on Earth. 

All one can do is put one foot in front of the other and the next… again and again… 

Some call this journey the longest, 18 inch journey that leads from head to heart. Some of us take years, decades, perhaps even a lifetime to walk this path. 

Then we stumble upon (or perhaps are guided to?) an intersection - a strange juncture where songs of angels are mixed with bleating, mooing and the smell of farm animals, and of shepherds who, of course, also smell like animals. It is likely that we don’t even realize we are drawing near… near the place where Hope is wrapped in the soft baby skin, and the Word is silent in the makeshift bed of hay…

…the embodiment of unsparing grace at the sight of which angels fall prostrate…

… the unfailing love made human, in whose arms both children of Jerusalem and children of Bethlehem can find rest for their weary souls at last.

And with fresh eyes we see that our journey has only begun.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

When God Misses the Target

Just six miles south of Jerusalem lies the place God chose as the birthplace for his son. If it wasn’t impossible for God to have bad aim, one might be tempted to think that he missed his target by six miles.

By all human standards, Jerusalem had everything going for it as an indisputable favorite to host such momentous event. 

Rich religious history. 

Impressive tradition. 

Glowing reputation.

Its facilities and resources were far superior to anything Bethlehem had to offer for hosting the birth of God incarnate.  In the eyes of the event planners selecting the caterer, Jerusalem would be the New York City’s Le Bernardin and Bethlehem...?

A banged up food truck!

The real estate agents tell us it’s all about location. Location, location, location.

I find this very interesting.
Something inside me is naturally drawn to Jerusalem - its buzz, action, excitement, the promise of significance and validation it seems to offer. It’s the place to see and be seen. 

I can be inside Jerusalem, so engrossed by all the fascinating who’s whos from the invitation list and their impressive resumes that I completely miss the Guest of Honor!

I can be inside Jerusalem and miss God by six miles.