Tag Archives: tradition

Eve

Standard

Tonight’s the night the world begins again.  Goo Goo Dolls.

Everything changed when Mary heaved and strained that night.  She birthed Messiah in a rush of blood and water, delivering SomeOne entirely new, entirely transforming, into the brokenness.  Bethlehem was swollen with census travelers, so nobody noticed the young woman swollen with Christ-child.  She brought Him to us in the shadows of a humble stable, frightened and young, torn by birth pains, all alone but for farm animals and an exhausted fellow traveler, Joseph, certainly inept in the feminine wisdom of childbirth.

But then He came, sliding onto straw, held for the first time in human hands, beheld for the first time by human eyes.

In excelcis Deo.

 And everything changed forever.

So take these words and sing out loud
’cause everyone is forgiven now
’cause tonight’s the night the world begins again….

Light dawns.

The wait is over.

The heaviness lifts.

Advent is fulfilled.

He is here.

Living Grace, Incarnate Messiah, God wrapped in flesh, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

Hallelujah.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. Is.9:6.

Advertisements

Emmanuel

Standard

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14.

Frederick Buechner –

“Christmas is not just Scrooge waking up the next morning a changed man. It is not just the spirit of giving abroad in the land with a white beard and reindeer. It is not just the most famous birthday of them all and not just the annual reaffirmation of Peace on Earth that it is often reduced to so that people of many faiths or no faith can exchange Christmas cards without a qualm. 

On the contrary,

if you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is.

Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell.

Emmanuel, which is Hebrew for “God with us.” That’s where the problem lies.

The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place “the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity” came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.

Year after year the ancient tale of what happened is told raw, preposterous, holy and year after year –

the world in some measure stops to listen.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. A dream as old as time. If it is true, it is the chief of all truths.

If it is not true, it is of all truths the one that people would most have be true if they could make it so. 

Maybe it is that longing to have it be true that is at the bottom even of the whole vast Christmas industry the tons of cards and presents and fancy food, the plastic figures kneeling on the floodlit lawns of poorly attended churches. The world speaks of holy things in the only language it knows, which is a worldly language.

Emmanuel. We all must decide for ourselves whether it is true.

Certainly the grounds on which to dismiss it are not hard to find.

  • Christmas is commercialism.
  • It is a pain in the neck.
  • It is sentimentality.
  • It is wishful thinking.
  • The shepherds. The star. The three wise men. Make believe.

Yet it is never as easy to get rid of as all this makes it sound. To dismiss Christmas is for most of us to dismiss part of ourselves. It is to dismiss one of the most fragile yet enduring visions of our own childhood and of the child that continues to exist in all of us. The sense of mystery and wonderment. The sense that on this one day each year two plus two adds up not to four but to a million.

What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us. 

Emmanuel. Emmanuel.”

Emmanuel.

God                    With                 Us

A neverending kiss of endless Incarnate Grace.

Hallelujah

Eucharisteo

Standard

Giving thanks, this is an awakening — the breath of God upon the face, close and warm. Ann Voskamp.

Eucharisteo is Greek for Thanksgiving.

It evokes eucharist, bread-and-wine-communion, the absorbing and taking in of Christ.  We take communion to remember how He bled His new covenant of grace over our fatal wounds, our slow dying.  Do this in remembrance of Me. Luke 22:19.  Eucharisteo is a life of communion, a face turned upward to glory in forever-remembering.  Remembering has one pure result: eucharisteo, thanksgiving.  Read this, an invitation to be changed by a thanksgiving life.

Sometimes eucharisteo is a flame that burns purifying pain into a broken story.   It can be a sacrifice that feels too great to bear, a deep and holy offering from shaking hands.  I have walked that desperate journey (perhaps will walk it again).  I know, Lord, that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. May your unfailing love be my comfort. Psalm 119:75. 

Then, other times, eucharisteo is as easy as breath.  Sometimes God dazzles us with grace upon grace, a heaping of YES and AMEN.  Sometimes His bottomless mercies shower like rain.  Then eucharisteo is an anthem of joy that rises from a dancing heart.  The Lord your God is with You, a victorious warrior. He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zeph.3:17-18.

Then again, sometimes eucharisteo is sweet and still.  Sometimes thanksgiving is entwined within the sturdy fabric of daily rhythms, yearly traditions, simple fragments of a righteous life.  Often, eucharisteo is woven through roasted turkey, spiced cider, pumpkin pie.  The precious rituals of the fourth Thursday in November are not the true Thanksgiving, but they can be the tethers that anchor us to a deeper truth, a richer worship.

I wake early on Thanksgiving morning, linger over coffee and Matthew 1, the whisper of advent.  I grind wheat to make the first of the year’s batches of Christmas bread dough, a rich recipe that tastes like warm tradition.  I shape the dough into cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and loaves – the recipe is bountiful, like the season.  Lucy and I don matching aprons.  She licks the honey spoon, eyes alight.  It is over 60 degrees in Colorado on Thanksgiving Day.  Dreamy Scott and Jack play football and soccer in the unexpected sun.  A quiet heart day, spent readying ourselves for a feast of thanks.

We eat late, as the sun sets, after a day of shining and play.  We pray over the five kernels of corn hidden under the napkins (hidden like so many jewel of grace that we do not see) in our salad bowls.  We remember the pilgrims who died by the scores in the terrible first winter with only five kernels of daily corn.  They still praised God, and He heard their cries, providing a way to future abundance.  True Thanksgiving is always a remembering worship of His Story.  We linger over conversation, pecan pie, mulled wine and football.  The Lord has blessed our family with a mighty blessing, and we remember the God who loves us with an everlasting Love.

Passages

Standard

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deut.6:6-9.

We gather around the table for the first holiday family night of my favorite season of the year’s rhythm, November 1st through January 1st.  We pass into the season of tradition. We set out our Thankful Jar, empty for now, poised to be filled to the brim with Eucharisteo, offerings of thankfulness.

Thankful Jar

We eat breakfast burritos and banana bread.  Lucy consumes the white fleshy sweetness of her apple slices, abandoning the gnawed-out red skin.  But when I give her a whole apple, she only eats the skin.  Why is that? I wonder as I contemplate that hollow apple skin.  I run a strand of her hair through my fingers as she curls up next to me.

We tell each other the Pilgrim story.  Jack speculates that the Mean King who denied his people the right to worship might be Nebuchednezzar.  Or Herod.  There are so many mean kings, Mommy.

Lucy scribbles on a scrap of paper and drops it in the Thankful Jar.  She lifts her eyes to my face, meets my eyes, smiles shyly.  I gather her, hold her to my heart.

Thanksgiving is not a day; it is a life.  It is not a tradition; it is an offering.

We assign roles for the activity.  Jack and Lucy want to be Pilgrims so they can sail on the Mayflower.  Pilgrims get seasick on the Mayflower, you see, so they throw up over the side of the ship.  Their eyes dance as they volunteer to be Pilgrims.

The Mean King tells the Pilgrims they cannot worship God in their own country. BOOOOOOOO....

On the Mayflower, the Pilgrims worship, then barf. From seasickness.

The Pilgrims can finally worship God in peace! They joyfully thank God!

We act out the simplified story in silliness, the language of childhood memories.  We take grainy pictures on our iPhones, because finding the good camera would mean leaving that happy room for a few minutes.  We hug and act silly and laugh and eat and play.

As they kneel after safe Mayflower passage to the new world, Jack offers a prayer.  Jesus, thank you that I can worship you now.  I gaze at my children in posture of worship and my heart brims over.  Eucharisteo. Greek for Thanksgiving.  Our hearts expand and contract with the very Thanksgiving that we hope to instill.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Cor.4:15.

What a gift that the passage of truth between generations is also a passage to deep and abiding relationship.  Lord, may we walk in Thanksgiving through this season and beyond, amen.