Saturday, December 24, 2011

Son of God

The child who came to heal the brokenhearted
A baby born to reconcile the world
He came to die that we might know the Father
The arm of the Lord has been revealed

His sheep He came to rescue from the slaughter
And humbled Himself a Man that knew no sin
Mary's heart was pierced with deepest sorrow
As her baby Son was stretched upon the tree

Son of God
Has come to earth
Glory to the Father
The baby lies
Asleep in the manger
Born to die
Prince of Peace and Savior

We knew Him not, despised and forsaken
What good could come from Nazareth
From Galilee a King has risen
Born as a Man, Lord of all

At His name every knee will bow
Glory to God in the Highest
Every tongue confess the name of Jesus
Christ is the Lord, Christ is the Lord

Son of God
Has come to earth
Glory to the Father
The baby lies
Asleep in the manger
Born to die
Prince of Peace and Savior

You can hear the music that goes along with this poem and other Christmas songs at our Bandcamp page,

I hope you have a blessed Christmas celebrating our Savior's birth with your loved ones.  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas: Our darkness meets the Light

I was listening to Christmas music on the way home from work today, and found myself selecting melancholy songs about winter and songs about the birth of Christ in minor keys.   And I wondered, why do I feel bad every Christmas?  Why does Christmas fill me with joy, and yet such sadness at the same time?

I feel like I end the Advent season every year feeling like, "Great, I missed it again."   I feel like Christmas is such a great opportunity to celebrate Jesus' birth and instead I'm confronted by many failures.

All it takes is a couple Christmas parties where I feel like my words could have been kinder, better chosen.  Recognition of my deep bitterness about cold weather and a complaining spirit.  And, don't get me started on my own personal materialism.  Walking through the malls I find gifts for others and a thousand desires for things I didn't even know I wanted.  My heart gets smaller with each shopping trip and my will to make donations gets weaker.

These things crowd out Baby Jesus so easily.  Christmas Day arrives and I wonder, is there room for Him in my heart?

As I continued driving down the expressway, slowly albeit with millions of red lights guiding me home, I wondered.  Maybe it's good.  Maybe this season reveals the darkest parts of my character because they contrast so starkly to the light that was born to redeem them.  Maybe it's important for me to realize all the Herod, Grinch and Scrooge-like qualities that fight in my heart and remind myself just how much I need Jesus.

Maybe a reminder of my weakness will help me remember just how important Christmas is.  Remember that Jesus came to earth to save a wretch like me.  A time to reflect on the purity of that sinless, newborn baby born into a world of sin and suffering.  A God who did not leave us helpless, but came to save.  That gives me hope and fills my soul with joy.

"For unto us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6

The Child was born to ransom our sinful hearts.  In our weakness we can rejoice that One came to rescue us, Jesus our Emmanuel, God with us.

"The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shined."  Isaiah 9:2

May the light of Jesus fill your heart and soul with joy and comfort this Christmas and every day this year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

christmas eve

starry sky swirls and glimmers overhead
we slip quickly to the van
humming underneath the evening heavens
stamp our feet and watch our breath freeze

pull into the parking lot crunching last week's snow
we fall, we jump out each door
running, sliding to our well-lit church
shake the cold and thaw by candles

our family squeezes into the upper pew
we share the hymnals
singing ancient advent carols
"Christ is born," all my sisters sing

the message raised, the faithful smile
my sister sleeps upon my lap
the altos cry, sopranos soar
"and He shall reign forever and ever"

Monday, December 5, 2011

for such a time as this

5:45 a.m.  The alarm clock blasts into my ear.  Without feeling or sympathy it steadily beats until I slap it with my hand.  I roll back over and pretend the day isn't here yet, for a few more minutes.

I get up cranky and cold, wishing that the day wasn't here.  Wishing circumstances were different.  Wishing my day was going to unfold differently.  Wishing I had woke up feeling more rested and less crabby.

I read my Bible and pray.  Pray that God would make Himself known to me, and pray that He would make some changes.  Changes in my situation, changes in me.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't like where I am.  Sometimes (most times) its my current spiritual condition, sometimes its something more tangible like work, art, service, or relationships.  It is hard to be content.  It is hard to live in the moment, especially when you hate the moment.

Lately I have been reflecting on this, the problem of place.  Sometimes you don't get to choose where you are.  We go to college and are deluded by the idea that we just might get our dream job and live happily ever after.  We forget that many people don't work a job they love.  In fact, you often have to take whatever you can get.  Some times something even bigger than work steps in.  No one expects to battle terminal illness.  No one expects to have a child afflicted with a disability.  No one expects to be homeless.  No one expects to suffer.

Tragedy comes, whether we are ready or not.

Life has a way of throwing a wrench into the well laid plans of mice and men.  It's no wonder children become jaded as they get older.  Life under the sun is toil; life under the sun is heart breaking.

On Sunday our pastor preached on the book of Esther.  Esther, a beautiful young Jewish girl, becomes Queen of Persia.  I have to assume this is one of the worst jobs in the world.  You become the wife of a man with unlimited concubines, and he has the power to end your life whenever he feels like it.  You are married to a man you did not choose, and hopefully he loves you enough to visit you once in awhile.  Your life is not your own.  Talk about depressing circumstances.

A wicked man named Haman plots to kill your people, and your father-figure, cousin Mordecai says you have a chance to save them, you are the Queen.  You protest, the king could kill you for walking into his presence without being summoned.  Mordecai responds, "Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  Esther 4:13-14

For such a time as this.

That phrase struck me as I sat in church.  As I sat thinking about how often I want to flee, run away from the tasks and trials set before me.  

Perhaps I have been placed where I am for a such a time as this too.

God knew what He was doing when He allowed Esther to become Queen.  It was part of His plan to save His people.  Esther was in a rather hopeless situation, and God used it to bring hope and life to thousands because she was willing to risk her life for Him and His people.

I think God wants to use all of us where we are to bring hope and the message of salvation.  A lot of our situations are pretty hopeless by the world's standards.  Losing a family member, fighting cancer, battling injustice, struggling with purpose, fighting depression, losing a baby, the list goes on and on.  We live in a world that is broken, a world that is not our home.  What better place to share the good news of Jesus?  Maybe God has called you for such a time as this.

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?  My hope is in You."  Psalm 39:7

May the Lord grant you strength as you face this broken world and courage as you brave many trials.  Let your soul be filled with the hope of His Son, and may you rest in the knowledge of His love.