Monday, December 19, 2011
Here's how it began, "Greetings, O favored one! The Lord is with you; and you will bear a son and call Him Jesus! He will be great! He will save...!"
I've presided at Advent, Christmas Eve, and other seasonal services to talk about that/Him for over 35 years; and I still don't quite get it/Him all.
I often feel as clueless as that young 12-16 year old virgin who had to be reminded of God's sovereignty - "Nothing is impossible for God!" - before getting it/Him.
Writing about this season's reason, Luther wrote, "The virgin birth was a mere trifle for God; that God should become a man is a greater miracle!"
Yeah, and like we understand that/Him totally.
Then comes His life, crucifixion, resurrection, and...
Anyone who says she/he gets all of that/Him is as full of, uh, whatever as all of those candidates for the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue who are trying to convince us that they know what to do to, uh, save, uh, America and the rest of the world along with us.
I don't think so.
The message of Christmas - Jesus!!! - is simple; and Peterson captures the simple truth that's so far beyond our comprehension that all we can do is offer thanks in a partially knowing (see 1 Corinthians 13:12-13) burst of wonder, love, and praise: "The sooner we get the message, the better off we'll be, for the message is good, incredibly good: God is here, and He's on our side...God is passionate to save us" (from Eugene's introduction to Mark in The Message).
The sooner we stop looking for someone other than Jesus to fix things/us, the sooner we'll get it/Him/Christmas/life/eternity.
That's when we'll really get Phillips Brooks carol: "How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given!...Where meek souls will receive Him, still the dear Christ enters in."
Maybe that's why God's angel first broke the news to that young virgin.
Maybe that's why Jesus always seemed happiest around children.
Unlike grown-ups who banter and moan about everything that's gotta be done to make the season bright - and ever notice how they really never get there except for a few moments, uh, after the big eve/day; and then they're so busily, busily, busily off to stress out over the next... - children just get into it/Him and could care less about, uh, well, uh, you know; and if you don't, that means you're still caught up in the holly more than holy.
Take a deep breath.
Stop being so defensive about ruining the season for yourself by getting caught down in the preparations more than meaning/experience.
Go to all services this year; especially the latest one available and let Him work His...
Don't you really, really, really want to...?
Here's some inspiration.
A man's man in Virginia who's still got the heart of kid sent this video to me.
Yeah, stop what you're doing and watch it...and allow Him to...
Peterson wrote in Praying with the Early Christians: "Meditation is a nearly lost art - and not easy to acquire in a noisy world."
Then he prayed, "God, let me withdraw for a while now from the chatter and gossip of the world, and let your words sink deeply into my mind and spirit. In the quietness of these moments, help me to realize the eternal significance of the birth of Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen."
Kathie and I and the whole staff of KD (actually, uh, we're the whole staff) along with our families and the family of faith at First Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois are praying your Christmas and 2012 will be filled with the love, joy, and peace of knowing Jesus in all seasons.
Blessings and Love!