Saturday, December 25, 2010

...that glorious day

..."but when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law."

In the thick darkness that was the world, God invaded.  He made Himself near.

In the midst of heavy oppression, idolatry, ugliness, despair, and seeming hopelessness, God broke in.  Putting aside His kingly rights, He put on flesh (becoming like us), and was born in a dirty food trough.

And it was in that dirty food trough where the HOPE of the world laid.  Mercy laid.  Eternal life laid.

To a people who believed God could only be found in a temple, found after "cleaning themselves up," found after practicing the right "rituals," God came -- in the form of a baby -- and made Himself near.  He was to be called "Immanuel," which means "God with us."  He is the "with us God".

And it was in that very baby boy that perfect love was embodied.  That the God of the universe was embodied.  That the salvation of the world was now made possible.

This was it.  This was their Messiah!  This is the one they waited for.  This is the one who would offer forgiveness, freedom, salvation, a new Kingdom.

..."a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices."

Merry Christmas, friends!  "Today a great light has come upon the earth!"  A wild celebration is in order.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The night before...

It wasn't peaceful.  It probably wasn't silent.  It wasn't gentle.  The world was not at ease.  People were not calm.

The people labored under a tax rate that would go unmatched -- even to this day.  The Jewish Temple (the place, considered by many, to be where one can actually meet with God) was being filled with forbidden idols by a selfish king.  The worship of many gods was accepted and encouraged.  Syncretism rang as Rome's anthem -- but, of course, under brutal Roman rule.

There was rebellion.  There was hatred.  Hostility.

It was vicious.  Merciless.  Oppressive.

Herod, promising to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem, simultaneously building pagan temples in Samaria.  A slap in the face to the Jews.

Rome was thriving monetarily -- a lush extravagancy of finances, luxuries, infrastructure, etc.
Rome was bankrupt in spirit of character.

Herod commissioned for a brutal massacre of all infant Jewish males.

And, all the while, the Jews waited.  They've been waiting since the days of Abraham, Isaac, Jeremiah.  They have waited in utter silence for 400 years.  They were waiting for a King.  They were waiting for someone to come and set them free from foreign political power.  They were longing for their Messiah to come -- to bring spiritual renewal and political freedom.  They were looking for the one who would come and rule as king and who would put to shame the brutal Roman government.

It was ugly.  War raged in the hearts of men and women.

It wasn't a "silent night."
Rather, indeed, "long lay the world in sin and error pining"...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This is brilliant.  Beautiful.
Sleeping At Last asked their listeners to send holiday/winter themed video footage with the intentions of assembling it all into a community-made music video of sorts for the Sleeping At Last original Christmas song, "Snow."

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Everywhere you go this time of year, you hear them.
Each street corner has one.
Every store has at least one.
And the season wouldn't feel the same without them.

The Salvation Army bell ringers.

There's just something about the bells' musical refrain, mixed with the glow of white Christmas lights, and that certain crisp winter chill in the air, that makes the season feel right.

And I don't think it's because the people ringing the bell have some musical ability to play Beethoven's 5th.  As a matter of fact, I think the bells in it of themselves are quite annoying.  Like total clamor with no melody.  Like me playing the trumpet in 5th grade.  

I think those sweet bells make the season feel right because of what they represent.  They represent gift-giving.  They represent something we were originally created for.  They represent this idea that we were made to give.  We were created to bless.

And it's in these few, small moments when I see the joy of others' giving, that I believe I get a glimpse into the original earth we were created for.  An earth filled with individuals who give, who bless, who sacrifice, who lay down their own lives for others, and in doing so find the greatest joy ever.  I am looking forward to inheriting a new home, a new home where every moment is characterized by blessing -- not just the moments in December.  But for now, these are the sweet moments I will cherish.  These are the sweet-laughs-with-the-head-cocked-back moments I will cherish.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is he really the one?

Everything was perfect.
The sun was shining
yet with a sweet coolness of the day.
Perfect peace was intimately known.
There was no pain.
No brokenness.
No suffering.
No death.
Life flourished -- plants, animals, the heart of man.
There was a romance that went unmatched.
Love was real -- and full.
Beauty exploded at every turn.
Joy knew no bounds.
It was as if everything was fulfilling its own unique purpose.
Everything was exactly as it should be.

And a question was posed,
"did he really say what you think he said?"
Doubt entered.
And a seemingly better option was on the table.

The sweet coolness of the day was replaced with a smoldering hot sun.
Eyes became blinded by the trees.
Deception crept in.
Darkness introduced itself to souls.
Brokenness violently moved in.
The once intimately known peace now felt like a stranger.
The once never known pain felt strangely familiar.
Distortion burst onto the scene.
Stinging the tongue was the bitter taste of death.
Memories of a wild romance felt like they belonged to a long-lost lover.
Freedom was pierced by guilt and condemnation.
Creation suffered bitter enmity with its creator.
Nothing seemed as if it were how it should be.

And another question was posed,
"will you wait?"
Will you wait for the one who will restore to perfection?
Will you wait for the one who brings freedom?
Will you wait for the one who puts flesh to the word "love"?
Will you wait for the one who binds up the broken hearted?
Will you wait for the one who romances the prostitutes?
Will you wait for the one who puts everything as it should be?
Will you just wait?

Through brutal wars, seemingly broken promises, famines, clouds of darkness, and seldom encounters with mere angels, men and women of faith waited.  They waited for the Good King they were promised.  They waited, by faith, for the one who would save them -- the Messiah.

And in a dirty food trough the supposed King -- the Messiah, the one they waited thousands of years for -- entered the world as a crying baby.
Born, scandously, of a virgin.
Born, a Nazarene -- can anything good come from there?
Born from the lineage of women plagued by shame.
Born into a fractured world --
with immediate commands that he would be killed as a baby.

Was this really the ONE generations after generations had waited for?
Is this the ONE we celebrate as Emmanuel, "God (is) with us"?

By sheer faith, I am believing so.
I am believing "this, this is Christ the King."
I am believing he is the one generations waited for.
I believing in him as my Hope, my Peace, my Joy, my Love, and my Christ.
And, by sheer faith, I am believing this Emmanuel will come again to set all things right.