Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent, Week 4: Christmas Eve

From Scott....



And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us… (John 1:4)


Recently, I attended a wedding in San Antonio, Texas.  The reception was at a museum near the University of the Incarnate Word, and a cousin asked me what my understanding of “incarnate word” was.  I told him that Incarnate Word referred to the religious order who founded the school, but that the term had a deeper meaning.  “Literally,” I told him, “this is the University of the Word Made Flesh; in other words, the University of Jesus.”


As humans, we have tremendous capacity for abstract thought, unlike any other beings on the planet.  We can recall the past with detail and imagine the future with hope.  We make sense of symbols and ideas, and use the creative gifts of art and music to express ourselves and inspire others.  We are unique among all living things in our ability to do so.


Yet, despite our capacity for conceptualizing that which is not concrete, we have our limits, and God knows it.  Sometimes, we need to experience something “real” to understand something mystical.  Yes, seeing is believing.


Unconditional love is one of those mystical, hard-to-understand concepts.  Bolstered by our own experiences and egos, it is hard to even fathom the depth of love for love’s sake, no strings attached and impossible to stop.  Just this week, a loved one sent a text I’d been expecting for some time.  “Bridgette died last night,” she wrote, letting me know her beloved dog had passed after a long illness.  Bridgette was a “Heinz 57” dog, as my Dad used to say—a little of this and a little of that.  She was a loveable, barrel-chested companion who had been rescued from a certain death years before as she prowled the area near our local industrial zone.


I reminded her that Bridgette would have been long gone many years before had she not reached out to her and taken her home.  “Yes,” she replied, “but when I think about her, I have to ask:  who rescued who here?”  Bridgette had been unconditional love incarnate to her, at a time she needed it most.  A real-world, full five-senses example of something we find so hard to understand.

How loving and thoughtful of God to send Jesus into the world…a fully-human, living, breathing example of unconditional love, so we could completely and finally understand.  Pure and gentle as a baby, self-sacrificing and offering love and healing as a man, let us remember this Christmas Eve to look for the word made flesh and choose to be rescued, again.

From Kathy....Distracted Christmas

“It’s happened,” a friend of mine told me over coffee this week.  “I hate Christmas,” she said. Oh, she’s not a scrooge, in fact she may be one of the most Christ-living-following women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.  And I’m not a scrooge; in fact I adore the gift giving and the Christmas happenings.  However, the parties, the food, the goings and comings, the lights, the lists, the presents and the wrappings of Christmas have taken over my mind this week.  I knew it would be a tough fight this year and I knew I was weak but I was hopeful.  I was hopeful that I would remember and focus on the real truth of Christmas – the birth of God into this human world.  But the power and trappings of this retail-frenzy we somehow call “Christmas” overtook me.  So when my friend whispered these unusual words, “I hate Christmas”, my heart heard and I was jolted.



As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feetlistening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:37-42 New International Version


So, Yay! for Martha as she too struggled with the trappings of preparations. Yes, the distractions of Christmas are what my friend revealed in her comment.  I read these bible verses and wondered again why I get so very distracted.  I’m distracted by food preparation and by my gift list.  I’m distracted by errands and by Christmas baking.  I’m distracted about the upcoming Christmas Eve service and how long it will last and what plans we have after it. I’m distracted by my selfishness and the selfishness I see in others.  I’m distracted by relationships - who is arguing or who has their feelings hurt?

I suddenly find myself as the family peacekeeper when the actual peace-bringer is waiting for me in His manger.  


The God my spirit craves is waiting for me to come, kneel, and listen.  He’s whispering to me, “Kathy, Kathy you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one.  I’ve come into this world – your God, your creator, your redeemer, your Saviour.  I AM what you seek.  I AM what your heart craves. I make you complete.  Yes, My manger is lowly and quiet.  I wait for you in your world.  Come see me, touch me and KNOW I am born.  Then you will have chosen what is better and it will not be taken from you.”


He's whispering these words to you too.  Go find Him in the quiet.  Let's force ourselves from the distractions and choose "what is better and it will not be taken away."


Merry Christmas – Christ is born indeed!

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