Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Advent Monologue

This will be a bit longer than usual, but I promise well worth it. I was recently introduced to a story I have passed over for years now. (Thank you Andrew Gullahorn and Jason Gray for your performance of this story through song at the Behold the Lamb of God concert.) Don't make my mistake, READ THIS STORY. The following is by Walt Wangerin, Jr. and is called An Advent Monologue. It is a beautiful story of Christmas. As I read about the woman, I couldn't help but picture myself and many of my closest friends. What a powerful parable...and it just shows us how much God loves us and how much He cares for us. You can read it and a few other stories from his book Ragman by clicking this link

I love a child.

But she is afraid of me.

I want to help this child, so terribly in need of help. For she is hungry; her cheeks are sunken to the bone; but she knows little of food, less of nutrition. I know both these things. She is cold, and she is dirty; she lives at the end of a tattered hallway, three flights up in a tenement whose landlord long forgot the human bodies huddled in that place. But I know how to build a fire; and I know how to wash a face.

She is retarded, if the truth be told, thick in her tongue, slow in her mind, yet aware of her infirmity and embarrassed by it. But here am I, well-traveled throughout the universe, and wise, and willing to share my wisdom.

She is lonely all the day long. She sits in a chair with her back to the door, her knees tucked tight against her breasts, her arms around these, her head down. And I can see how her hair hangs to her ankles; but I cannot see her face. She’s hiding. If I could but see her face and kiss it, why I could draw the loneliness out of her.

She sings a sort of song to pass the time, a childish melody, though she is a woman in her body by its shape, a swelling at her belly. She sings, “Puss, puss.” I know the truth, that she is singing of no cat at all, but of her face, sadly, calling it ugly. And I know the truth, that she is right. But I am mightily persuasive myself, and I could make it lovely by my love alone.

I love the child.

But she is afraid of me.

Then how can I come to her, to feed and to heal her by my love? Knock on the door? Enter the common way?

No. She holds her breath at a gentle tap, pretending that she is not home; she feels unworthy of polite society. And loud, imperious bangings would only send her into shivering tears, for police and bill collectors have troubled her in the past.

And should I break down the door? Or should I show my face at the window? Oh, what terrors I’d cause then. These have happened before. She’s suffered the rapings of kindless men, and therefore she hangs her head, and therefore she sings, “Puss.”

I am none of these, to be sure. But if I came the way that they have come, she would not know me different. She would not receive my love, but might likely die of a failed heart.

I’ve called from the hall. I’ve sung her name through cracks in the plaster. But I have a bright trumpet of a voice, and she covers her ears and weeps. She thinks each word an accusation.

I could, of course, ignore the doors and walls and windows, simply appearing before her as I am. I have that capability. But she hasn’t the strength to see it and would die. She is, you see, her own deepest hiding place, and fear and death are the truest doors against me.

Then what is left? How can I come to my beloved? Where’s the entrance that will not frighten nor kill her? By what door can love arrive after all, truly to nurture her, to take the loneliness away, to make her beautiful, as lovely as my moon at night, my sun come morning?

I know what I will do.

I’ll make the woman herself my door—and by her body enter in her life.

Ah, I like that. I like that. However could she be afraid of her own flesh, of something lowly underneath her ribs?

I’ll be the baby waking in her womb. Hush: she’ll have the time, this way, to know my coming first before I come. Hush: time to get ready, to touch her tummy, touching the promise alone, as it were. When she hangs her head, she shall be looking at me, thinking of me, loving me while I gather in the deepest place of her being. It is an excellent plan! Hush.

And then, when I come, my voice shall be so dear to her. It shall call the tenderness out of her soul and loveliness into her face. And when I take milk at her breast, she’ll sigh and sing another song, a sweet Magnificat, for she shall feel important then, and worthy, seeing that another life depends on hers. My need shall make her rich!

Then what of her loneliness? Gone. Gone in the bond between us, though I shall not have said a word yet. And for my sake she shall wash her face, for she shall have a reason then.

And the sins that she suffered, the hurts at the hands of men, shall be transfigured by my being: I make good come out of evil; I am the good come out of evil.

I am her Lord, who loves this woman.

And for a while I’ll let her mother me. But then I’ll grow. And I will take my trumpet voice again, which once would kill her. And I’ll take her, too, into my arms. And out of that little room, that filthy tenement, I’ll bear my mother, my child, alive forever.

I love a child. 

But she will not fear me for long, now. 

Look! Look, it is almost happening. I am doing a new thing— and don’t you perceive it? I am coming among you, a baby.

And my name shall be Emmanuel.

The Christ of God

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Cost of Christmas


Christmas is a mystery. Shoppers go to extremes to buy the perfect gift to show their love. Unfortunately, love often has a price tag. Many will buy low and attempt to "sell" it high when they give it. That's what Black Friday is all about. Buy the best/most expensive gifts at the lowest possible price. It makes us look like we give good gifts…when in fact, we are just cheap. Don't believe me? How do we react when a store has a price labeled or advertised wrong? It completely reverses the whole spirit of Christmas and the whole message of God's love for us through the gift of Christ.

You see, God gave us (presented) Christ at the lowest possible price. Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, born to an unwed, but engaged peasant. Born, then placed in a manger, an animal's food bowl. Don't forget, animals were not given fresh food, just baked for them. Animals received the scraps, left overs. Oh, and they aren't arranged on the plate so they aren't touching each other. Have you ever seen a bucket of scrap food before? The 8.6 lb baby Jesus was not wearing a golden fleece diaper (sorry Ricky Bobby) but instead, wrapped in scraps of cloth that did not smell like Tide or bleach. Scraps. If we saw a child in scraps of cloth today, what would we do? 

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 tells us that Christ will come and will not be regarded by men. He will be despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. (Please go back and read the whole text... seriously, I linked the text for you!)

Unlike our gifts, Christ was presented at the lowest possible price. Then when the time came, Christ paid the highest possible price. He gave His life.

1 John 3:1 tells us God has lavished His love on us. Just a few verses later John describes that love in 1 John 3:16 telling us that this is how we know what love is, that Christ laid down His life for us! 

This Christmas, my hope is that when we give gifts, we do so with love, not with price tags.

all about Christ,

*Picture taken from http://www.digitaltrends.com/guides/black-friday-survival-guide/