The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
To look at the last great self-portraits of Rembrandt or to read Pascal or hear Bach’s B-minor Mass is to know beyond the need for further evidence that if God is anywhere, he is with them, as he is also with the man behind the meat counter, the woman who scrubs floors at Roosevelt Memorial, the high-school math teacher who explains fractions to the bewildered child. And the step from “God with them” to Emmanuel, “God with us,” may not be as great as it seems.
What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snowblind longing for him.
~Frederick Buechner from A Room Called Remember
God gave us all a garden once
and walked with us at eve
that we might know him face to face
with no need to believe.
But we denied and hid from Him,
concealing our own shame,
yet still He came and looked for us,
and called us each by name.
He found us when we hid from Him,
He clothed us with His grace.
But still we turned our backs on Him
and would not see His face.
So now, He comes to us again,
not as a Lord most high,
but weak and helpless as we are,
that we might hear Him cry.
And He who clothed us in our need,
lies naked in the straw,
that we might wrap Him in our rags
when once we fled in awe.
The strongest comes in weakness now,
a stranger to our door,
the King forsakes His palaces
and dwells among the poor.
And where we hurt, He hurts with us,
and when we weep, He cries.
He knows the heart of all our hurts,
the inside of our sighs.
He does not look down from up above,
but gazes up at us,
that we might take Him in our arms,
He always cradles us.
And if we welcome Him again,
with open hands and heart,
He’ll plant His garden deep in us,
the end from which we start.
And in that garden, there’s a tomb,
whose stone is rolled away,
where we and everything we’ve loved
are lowered in the clay.
But lo! the tomb is empty now,
and clothed in living light,
His ransomed people walk with One
who came on Christmas night.
So come, Lord Jesus, find in me
the child you came to save,
stoop tenderly with wounded hands
and lift me from my grave.
Be with us all, Emmanuel,
and keep us close and true,
be with us till that kingdom comes
where we will be with You.
~Malcolm Guite — “A Tale of Two Gardens”
Heaven could not hold God.
Even though He is worshiped by angels, it is enough for Him to be held in His mother’s arms, His face kissed, His tummy full, to be bedded in a manger in lantern light.
It is enough for Him, as He is enough for us — even born as one of us, poor as we are — snowbound and ice-locked in our longing for something – anything – more. Our empty hearts fill with Him who came down when heaven could not hold Him any longer.
Imagine that. It is enough to melt us to readiness.
This year’s Advent theme “Dawn on our Darkness” is taken from this 19th century Christmas hymn:
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness and lend us your aid.
Star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
~Reginald Heber -from “Brightest and Best”
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