Thursday, December 20, 2007
O Holy Night....
My favorite Christmas songs are O Come Emmanuel and Mary, Did You Know? My mother’s favorite Christmas song was The Little Drummer Boy. (Mary, Did You Know hadn’t been written by the time she died, or I have a sneaking suspicion it would be her favorite, too…)
If you don’t know the words or the songs, you can look them up by doing a search on O Come Emmanuel + lyrics in your search engine. Same with Mary, Did You Know? And if you don’t know the words, please do the search and read them. If you can find a musical rendition on line (they exist; I’ve heard them), listen to them if you haven’t heard them.
Both of them make me cry the first time I hear them every year…
I think The Little Drummer Boy resonated with Mom because she was alive during the Great Depression and knew great need and of so many peoples’ inability to "give" anything of "earthly" value to the Christ Child. When the little drummer boy asks if he should play his drum for baby Jesus, and Mary nods, and he plays, Jesus smiles… that gets me, too. Jesus wants our hearts and our love, because he knows our obedience will follow… and his blessings will follow that, in abundance!
Before I was born again, I thought Christians must live awfully boring lives. Not only boring, but judgmental and nit-picky, too! Boy howdy, was I wrong! I have been more alive during the past nine years than I ever was before, except perhaps as a very small child, 5-10 or so. (I was terribly sick and scrawny until I was five and don’t remember much of those days except for Mom rubbing my back and singing songs to me as I lay on the couch.)
The (practicing) Christians I know are full-out surrendered to letting God’s spirit direct their paths. When I allow that, I bless and am blessed. When I pull back into my "old" self-protective, reactive ways, I suffer, and those around me suffer, too, even though I try to isolate when I’m feeling low. Others suffer because they don’t get the "Christ in me" when I pull back. They always notice and always ask if anything is wrong when I get quiet or uncommunicative.
If you ask almost anyone to describe me in one word, the word is "enthusiastic." That thrills me, because it comes from the word "entheos" which means "God in me." The Jewish people have Emmanuel – "God with us." Christians enjoy Entheos – "God in us" (via the Holy Spirit).
I know that when I give The Holy Spirit carte blanche with my mind, emotions, will, intellect and my personality, people get blessed. And when I get tried, or stressed, or miffed, the "old" me takes over and becomes a giant pill – or can, if I succumb to the temptation.
The great thing about being born again is that the experience of becoming a blessing rather than a bother is so enjoyable that it encourages itself! I can’t stay mad anymore… or bored… or ticked… I start giggling and laughing whenever I decide I have a "right" to be proactively cranky or isolationist. I used to feel "pride" and what I considered "righteous indignation" when I was miffed. Now I realize that my Adamic nature is trying to grab hold of me again, and I respond by thinking about that… forgiving it… and getting bored with it. The process always returns me to ebullience and joy. Every time. Being cranky and judgmental just takes too much energy! Joy gives and gives and gives -- and rarely gives out unless I’m close to exhaustion!
I haven’t had even ten Christmases yet in my life where Jesus was the sole reason for the season. In a way, I’m luckier than most (nominal) Christians who more or less take Jesus for granted. Since He has become my dearest friend, all I can think of is how blessed I am and what a blessing He is. And I know I want to be like him "when I grow up," and as I grow into the fullness of this new experience of being an adopted child of the Most High God.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. And it doesn’t have a thing to do with presents. It has everything to do with Presence!
Thank You, Father God, for loving us so much that you sent your only son to die as a substitute for all of us, who have fallen so far short of our mandate to be your image-bearers and to reflect Your light and love. I try to fathom a love that great. I don’t know of a single terrestrial father who would give his son in the way you gave yours to save all of us from the penalties of our transgressions against Your Word and direction… and even if there were such a father, his son could not accomplish what yours did at Calvary. He canceled our sin debt and threw open the Holy of Holies to each of us so that we can elect to walk with You again in the Garden forever. It had to hurt to do that… it had to be hell to see your son endure all He did to win us back. I will not forget Your love and Your sacrifice. You love us beyond our comprehension or understanding…beyond our own abilities to love! One day we will love as you do. Until then, help us reflect as much of You as our dirty lenses will allow… and clean and polish and de-smudge us in every way possible so that the reflection off us will reveal Your Face and Your Love. It is in the precious Name of Jesus I pray. Amen, amen, and amen!