find us faithful and find us ready

Simple prayers are the best because my words get in the way.

No one has ever accused me of being a woman of few words, though I have tried to be a woman of less. Maybe sometimes – no definitely sometimes – I complicate prayers  with too much vocabulary. I get flustered and the words fumble out sounding impressive or hollow or planned.

This advent season, my shoulders have a humble slump and it is making me appreciate simple prayers and spelled out liturgies. Because my words aren’t anything special, nothing revolutionary or new is streaming from my cyber pen. I am one in a million breaking winter silence with thoughts from my fickle, foolish heart. I join a history as old as the sun – a history of people who speak and explain and write and ponder. And we have many, many words to evidence our legitimacy… as word lovers.

I always wonder if we can come about true humility by way of humiliation. Can a person be truly humble as a result of feeling truly humiliated? No one loves humiliation. I try to stay away from it and all the rosy cheeked aftermath, but it still sneaks up on me with regular rhythm. I am always saying the wrong thing and doing the wrong thing and both at all the wrong times. I know being awkward is all the hipster craze these days, but (let’s be honest) no one enjoys being humiliated.

And so my slumped shoulders find me meditating on the Messiah, knowing I am a little drummer boy with a pen and paper – standing at the entrance to the stable of my King.

I don’t have much to bring and even my words are weightless and wilty sometimes. What I do have to offer is sometimes the very thing that humiliates me. I am walking with those ancient wise men, following the miracle star to meet my Messiah, so that the Messiah can meet all my messes.

I lit the third advent candle today with slumped shoulders and a thankful heart, because I am not impressive and I do not have to be. The Lord was gracious to send a Savior, One who could handle all the words in the world – all the things we think we have to offer. I am thankful today to pray a simple prayer, believing God is the something special about advent and Christmas and salvation and redemption.

Christ is what makes this season glorious.

And my words cannot make more or less of that. So, I pray a simple prayer with slumped shoulders knowing the Lord cares tenderly for His children. He is gracious to invite me to worship at the stable and at the cross with my slumped shoulders, with my pen and paper.

Lord, find us faithful and find us ready. Amen.

wait, with great expectation

Waiting with anticipation sounds like a funny thing to do.

Because it is hard to wait actively and hard to anticipate passively. And that’s exactly the miracle of Advent.

There is nothing passive about the days leading up to Christ’s birth into the world – the longing for a Messiah is almost palpable throughout the Old Testament. Even as hundreds of years passed, the people of Israel (and beyond) waited with great expectation for the Savior King to come to earth. They were waiting, but they were not resigned to indifference. They read and re-read the prophecies and the promises and then they said, “Come.”

Hundreds and hundreds of years of “Come, Lord Jesus.” I imagine it maintaining the same intensity, though some generations must have faltered. Still, generation after generation waited actively with the words, “Come.”

The incarnation was never meant to happen to us, like witnessing an act of charity on the subway by chance. The incarnation of our Lord was planned from the very beginning, even the stars thrown into the sky were set on a trajectory to proclaim His coming. 

And we are invited to take part in His coming, to anticipate the arrival of the Savior and the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise. Christ coming to earth is reason to celebrate salvation for our future, but it is also a reason to celebrate God’s salvation in our present. Because He is a faithful promise keeper … and that translates to Tuesdays. The incarnation is about Tuesday morning devotions and Tuesday afternoon meetings. The incarnation is about financial difficulties and health concerns. The incarnation is about family and brokenness.

The incarnation is about God being a faithful promise keeper when He sent Jesus as a baby into a dark world to be the light.

And the incarnation is not something we let “happen” to us. It is something we invite to transform our Tuesdays and our lives.

Come, thou long expected Jesus. Come.

exhausted by joy

(First, I must admit that I’ve only just now recovered from a very colorful verbal exchange with my computer after it lost this entire post into the unknown cybersphere. As I go back and try to remember it, I can’t help but think it’s a little ironic.)

I have so many plausible excuses, really I do!
Chasing after early morning 2-year-old squeals and filling the night with laughter, for starters.

There’s something about Christmas that won’t let me sit down and spell it out, blog style. The rumble of excitement as family exchanges gifts with the lengthy explanations from every giver, the soaking in of silly faces with people who live too far, the together-ness that makes memories on it’s own… This joy can be exhausting!

It’ll park your eyes at a willing, wide-open stance. It will put dances into your toes. It will make you “poke the bear” until the bear revolts with a playful roar.

It will fill the air with delicious, contagious laughter that (I’m sure) seeped out from under the old wooden doors at my parent’s house and warmed the night trees.

Exhausted by joy.

I wonder if C.S. Lewis would say we are as likely to be exhausted by joy as we are surprised by joy. Well, I submit that it is so.

I wonder if Mary and Joseph were exhausted by joy. I wonder if, when Mary finally gave in to sleep, she felt more than just relief that her vagabond pregnancy had ended. I wonder if Mary’s soul was so full of joy at the coming of the Messiah that her heart got tired.

I wonder if receiving blessings and naming them in thanks can bring a good kind of exhaustion – one that wearies your bones into a prayerful posture.

I wonder at this beautiful Gift.
Christ, our Substitute for the debt our flesh owes.
Christ, our Provision for an eternal abundance of joy.
Christ, our Hope.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

the precious mystery

Dietrict Bonhoeffer Stained Glass,St Johannes ...

“The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am more than a little inspired by the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Last year, I dove into the pages of his biography by Eric Metaxas and started referring to him as “my friend Dietrich” (see posts here and here and here). Okay, it did get a little out of control, but it’s hard not to be affected by this man’s life.

Fast forward to yesterday, when this book appeared on my bed – right smack dab in the middle of Advent season (an early Christmas gift from my aunt and housemate).

I flipped frantically through the pages last night – not wanting to miss anything, but wanting to get on track with the advent calendar days.

Week Two: Day One is titled, “Respect for the Mystery.”

I suppose my fascination with mystery has something to do with my reflection on Chesterton recently, or maybe Klosterman’s observation that the mystery of faith makes people nervous.

I love mystery.

Bonhoeffer writes,

“We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery.”

mystery…
there
we reach beyond the boundary of our being
there we traverse in lands where our control holds no power
there we sojourn as mere mortals in a place overflowing with otherness

Mystery lies hidden amidst the grid of everyday traffic and underneath the steady steps of time. Where we are constrained by our senses, mystery breaks rhythm and sets a new pace of possibilities.

Ah, yes. Mystery holds the beautiful, unexplainable, impossible story of God being
born.

The I AM of the days of Moses became a babe in a lowly manger.
The God who will one day ride on the clouds, shining like the sun at the trumpets call was ushered into the world with the sound of farm animals accompanying His humble arrival.
The Messiah, our only hope of salvation, emerged from a womb and filled His little lungs with earth air.

This is not science fiction – this is Truth, wrapped in mystery.

Oh, beautiful mystery!

In a letter to Bonhoeffer, Maria von Wedemeyer penned these words in 1943,

All that is Christmas originates in heaven and comes from there to us all, to you and me alike, and forms a stronger bond between us than we could ever forge ourselves.”

Mystery.

How are you watching this mystery thread through your life this Advent season?

let LOVE fly like cRazY

Fuerte, El es Mas Fuerte

Nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible for the God of universe who holds the whole universe in His hands. Nothing.

I praise God because this is True.

A rich man can enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:26), a desperate man can have hope (Jeremiah 32:27) and a young girl can carry the Messiah in her womb (Luke 1:37).

Nothing is impossible with God, Creator of heavens and earth… not tired days or dream smashers or loneliness or failures or sadness or human success or pride or busy schedules. Nothing, nothing, nothing is impossible with God.

Last Sunday, I sang underneath a blanket of stars in the courtyard of the Micah Project with some of the most beautiful and broken voices I could imagine. I love this sacred time in my week, but this past Sunday I felt even more thankful for the worship and communion.

We have been singing this song lately, by Hillsong. In English, it’s called “Stronger,” but I prefer the Spanish version, especially when I am standing next to Nelson or Wilmer. When I stand next to them I want to sing louder. I want the words to be true… I desperately want these words to be true!

The chorus is a fight,
“You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me
it is written Christ is risen
Jesus you are Lord of all.”

I love that my desperate plea is one God has already answered. He is stronger. He is sovereign He is surprised by nothing and fears nothing. Nothing is impossible with God.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,  all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,  the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8 ESV)

let LOVE fly like CrAzY