Saturday, December 13, 2014

A light shining on the darkness . . .

Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

I woke up early this morning, before the sunrise.  There is much to be done, much that has been pushed back.  It has not been procrastination, but prioritization.  The fire that burned hottest got the immediate attention.  Today the fires are under control, at least.  But it seemed wise to get up early in the dark when  glowing embers can be spotted more easily.

So it was dark when I plopped down on the sofa for this Saturday morning ritual of writing and coffee.  The perspective for dawn is different from here.  Normally I see the sunrise from my bedroom through windows facing a tad south of east.  It is an original  miraculous work every day, as first a tiny ribbon of crimson outlines the horizon, separating it from the sky that is imperceptibly giving up the indigo blue of night. Dawn comes quickly and powerfully as the blazing deep orange ball cautiously peers above the far ridge-line for a moment and then, as if seeing that the coast is clear, explodes boldly, sprinting out of the mountainous starting blocks, each step taking it higher in the heavens, casting its brilliant rays farther and farther west with each passing second.

But I could not see that this morning.  I could not look directly at the rising sun.  I was on the wrong side of the house.

It was different from this perspective.  Looking up the mountain side from the den windows all was dark. It was hard to see the sky at all because of the forest that begins directly behind my house.  But then I thought I saw something.  It was so subtle that I was not sure.  Probably nothing. But I could not stop looking.  Far up, at the very top of the tallest trees, there seemed to be a faint glow.  Not much.  Just a touch of pink against the grey bark of the highest tips of the forest spires. There was no explosion of light, no dramatic display of separating and changing colors and shafts of light.  Just the faint reddening glow. The glow of the tree tops intensified slowly, and crept lower until it reached the ground. And reached everything.

And I realized it was morning.  It was light.

I didn't see the sun when it appeared this morning.  I was on the dark side of the house.

But I saw the world reflecting it's light.

And I knew that the light had come.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

And it came to possum . . .

I stepped down the steps into the carport a few minutes ago and heard a rustling noise. Reaching back through the kitchen door, I turned on the outdoor light.

It turned on me. A few feet from the bottom of the steps.   A possum. Or opossum, for more formal meetings.  His beady eyes flashed as his pointy little teeth, bared by almost non-existent lips, glistened like razors through a smile that could never be trusted.. As he turned,  his hairless dark pink tail slashed across the concrete like a leather whip.  His coarse hair was mussed and grey and in need of a wash.

He was ugly.

No wonder he was in such a bad mood.

I have yet to begin decorating for Christmas.  But it is on my mind. I am giving it some thought.  And so, after my encounter with the possum, I wondered.  Some might say I wandered. As I wondered.

You just don't see possums in nativity sets.

You see lowing cattle, woolly lambs, donkeys, camels, and occasionally some dove.

But no possums.

From the Latin translation of Luke:  "And it came to possum . . . "

This oversight just doesn't seem consistent with the gospel of Jesus.


Not the absence of possums from nativity scenes.  This discussion about that absence is ridiculous (although I hope entertaining and descriptive).

This particular Christmas season is filled with ridiculous discussions.

Exactly how much torture is acceptable?  How much pain can be exacted without crossing the line?

Is killing by drone more moral than face to face combat?  What about bombs and missiles? Snipers?

Why in the world are all those black men upset?  A healthy percentage of them have free housing and meals at the state's expense. Why all the whining?

Why should those foreigners get to stay?

Why can't they do something about these homeless people lurking around everywhere? I hope they know to come to the Christmas meal at the church.

Why should my taxes pay for those freeloaders health insurance or their childrens' lunches?  I hope they know to come to the Christmas meal at the church and that we got the kid's sizes right.

And on and on.

It is ugly.  No wonder we are in such a bad mood.

And ridiculous.

And contrary to the gospel of Jesus.

Makes the whole possum in the nativity set discussion seem downright holy.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent: Love, you can't stop it, you can only hope to contain it

I was talking with a couple of friends today.  Each of them declared if they ever got married again, they would marry for money.  Don't try to figure out who it is. They did not mean it. It is one of those kind of things that you laugh about over coffee and pound cake, but you know it isn't true.  They married for love. There wasn't much they could do about it.

Like it or not, love cannot be controlled. If you can control it, it is not love. You know I'm right.

And that is what God unleashed on His precious world a couple of thousand years ago.

Love. Real Love.  Uncontrollable. Uncontainable. Unpredictable.

And contrary to our understanding, all powerful.

It is the most awesome gift, this love that came down.  It may be represented in a tiny way by gifts perfectly wrapped, tied up with ribbons and bow.  But there is no box nor ribbon that can ever contain it.  And if it ever appears to be perfectly boxed and tied up, it is just an illusion, ready to explode. It can be perfectly messy.

It was God's answer. To everything.

And it still is.

We just think we are too grown up to believe it, as if it were just another Christmas myth, more for the children to believe in so that they will behave in a more tolerable manner, or to provide the plot lines for the Hallmark channel.

And that is so sad. And so very wrong.

Love gave us, and gives us, the real answers.  Love is the answer to hate. To war. To Poverty. To racism. To oppression. To injustice.To violence. To loneliness. To condemnation. To judgment. To pain. To death.

Love is the only thing that can cure the human heart, and the collective heart of humanity.

But as I type it, love is just another word.

But what we contemplate during this advent season is that God changed all of that.

The Word, this love, became flesh, and came to walk among us. And invited the rest of us fleshy folk to embody the same love and take a walk.  With no idea where we are going.

But first this gift of  love was embodied in a tiny new born baby, who couldn't walk at all..

Seemed harmless enough. Powerless. Helpless. Pointless. What kind of answer is this to the horrible ills of a dark, dark world? Thanks God, but can we return it for something we might really use?

And you won't believe what happened next. . .

And that, sweet people, is our problem.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

People walking in darkness have seen a great light . . .

It's the first Sunday in Advent.  In the traditional Christian church calendar it begins a time before Christmas for preparation, for expectation, and for waiting.  Today in many churches there will be wonderful, visible, symbolic elements of this season, based on centuries of tradition.   The first candle of the advent wreath, the prophecy candle, will be lit as the story begins again, probably echoing the ancient yet contemporary words of Isaiah to "Prepare the way of the Lord."  and the prophecy that  "the people walking in darkness have seen a great light." . Perhaps tonight there will be the hanging of the greens in sanctuaries, cedar for strength, pine for eternal life, and holly and ivy for the passion and suffering of Christ.

Thursday I was driving home late after a full day of eating and being thankful (thankful to as well as thankful for the cooks and food respectively).  As I approached my driveway I saw a great light.   The lights could be seen in the dark night sky long before I got there,  the lights of Wal-Mart and the headlights and tail-lights of hundreds of cars of those that had been drawn there  For a moment I was concerned that the place was on fire. So I turned in there instead of to my home on the hill.

There were lines of cars the likes of which I had never seen, lined up to receive the blessings of the night, flat screen TV's, computers, bicycles, bags and boxes of all shapes and sizes,  all being fitted into back seats and trunks in a manner that would make the best Tetris champion proud, until there was no room to fit anything else in.  There were no parking places anywhere in the huge parking lot.

Mesmerized I parked on the edge of the lot and went inside. Christmas music was playing.  Bright strands of Christmas lights and garlands of evergreen highlighted the aisles full of bargains, marked with signs clearly declaring the way to savings.   There were hundreds of folks inside the store. Every check-out was open.  The way for the early Christmas shopper had been made straight. And the prices made low.

And all were exalting.

We were all exalting. Yeah. I bought something.

There were thousands of people in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. Every house, room and inn were full of people gathered by family name. But there was no room to fit Him in anywhere.

And very, very few noticed the true Light in the dark that night.

The true white hot blue light special. The Perfect Gift. Unimaginable saving.

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