Christmas, Whidbey Island

Today is the solstice: the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. I heard a friend say that she loves the nativitysolstice, because it means the sun has been flung back northward again. Imagine that: the cosmic ping-ponging of a star so much larger than ourselves, hemmed in, we like to think, by gravity and our calendars.

“It’s our turn,” says the Northern Hemisphere, and Australia and the South reply, “well, alright, then,” and send the sun back. We will trade again in six months, when my children’s necks are sticky with sweat and the fireflies dance under the trees.

It is fitting that in the darkest days of the year, we celebrate the first advent of the Lord Jesus. The people who have walked in darkness behold a great light, and He makes all things new (Is. 9:2; Rev. 21:5).

He must be made low to rejoice with the Father on high (Phil.2). He was foretold in the Garden, on the day the gate was flung closed and locked (Gen.3). And He would conquer through lowliness, in the form of a man. God in the manger. Creator with no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58).

In the early chapters of Breath for the Bones, Luci Shaw explores the idea of metaphor, word made flesh. She reminds us that the centerpiece of God’s creative imagination is Bethlehem, “…site of the Incarnation, flash point of the joining of heaven and earth, invisible and visible reality, transcendent and material.”

She shares this poem from her colleague, Loren Wilkinson. May it bless you as you consider the Word made flesh this week.

Christmas, Whidbey Island

Not in the waves, not in the wave torn kelp;

Not in the heron by the lake at dawn

Nor owls’ haunting of the wood,

Nor rabbits browsing frightened on the lawn;

Neither in the widening whirl

Of seashell, galaxy, or cedar burl,

Nor in the mushrooms’ bursting of the humid ground

May God the fathering be found,

If not found first in Bethlehem,

In thistly hay, on hoof-packed earth,

Where a girl, cruciform with pain

Grips manger boards in child birth.

There in the harsh particular,

In drafts, and stench of cow manure

The squalls of Christ, Creator, sound;

Where God grasped not at Godhead in a child

There only will the God of life be found.

Now, if we upon this wave-shaped bluff

Stand in the straw of Bethlehem

Then God shines out from everything;

The agate in the surf, the withered flower stem,

The fish that gives its body for the seal,

The flesh, the fruits that form each common meal,

The dance of pain and love in which our lives are wound;

Since Christ was flesh at Bethlehem,

In all the world’s flesh may God be found.

An Advent Narrative

Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent NarrativeJust as I did last year, I am reading through Russ Ramsey’s Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative every morning of Advent.

(Before you say, “OH NO HERE SHE GOES WITH THE ANDREW PETERSON PITCH AGAIN,” let me say, No, I am not pitching AP’s album again — although if I did, I would be completely justified in doing so. )

(To be completely on the up and up, though, this book contains some lyrics from the album and it shares the artwork.)

Ramsey’s Advent devotional begins with Creation and proceeds carefully through the Fall, Israel’s history, and the coming of Christ. If we as Christians grasp Redemption history well, we can grasp the Incarnation that much better. We ought to be people of this Story.

It’s what we like to call the “True Tall Tale.”

This year, Russ is managing a facebook group where he posts a Scripture passage, reflections, and questions from each day’s chapter. It’s not too late to join in and lend some ancient and strong significance to your Advent.

“The Lord God took this struggling man out beneath the desert sky at night, pulled back the blanket of self-doubt smothering Abram, and revealed a canopy of glimmering stars too numerous to count.”

-from chapter 4, “Number the Stars of Heaven”

Long-Expected