Monday, December 22, 2008

The birth of Jesus as told by a toddler

Behold, I bring you great tidings of joy, for i saw on the Advent Calendar that a little baby was born and it seemed to turn the entire world on it's head.

It made sheep float, cats sit on shepherds' heads, guys float up to into the rafters and stare at short, chaos came into the chaotic world and this is order? let me unpack this one for y0u. My daughter is an avid fan of any kind of sticker she can get her hands on, so when I found an Advent devotional calender at a Christian bookstore I was thrilled! Each day we simply pray with her "thank you Jesus for coming" and give her a sticker to put on the manger scene that we have taped to our wall near our kitchen.

We decided to let her put them wherever she saw fit. The first couple were spot on, and I thought I had a theologian in the making...until we got further along and well, as you can see, the story changed a little. The characters are all there and in the right place, but was pretty much a mass (no pun intended) of people crowded into one little space. But the more I looked at it, the more like reality it seemed...

See, it kinda looks like church to me; we're all crowed into the house where Jesus is, some are stepping on each others heads, others are drifting off into space, some are stuck in corners where no one notices, and a few are even straining to stare at Jesus face to face!

...and in the midst of it all is God, never-changing, always-present God...

It really looks like the Old Testament reading from Isaiah chapter 9. See, these sticker-people didn't get to be in the house of God because of what they did...and we don't either. It's all because of the Lord's doing.

"Nevertheless...the people walking in darkness have seen a great light...for as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor."

What was it like during the day of Midians defeat? It was a time when people were afraid (Judges 6) when all seemed hopeless and God raised up a young boy who was faithful to God by the name of Gideon. In the midst of a battle, God sounded trumpets and entered into the fray to free his people from their oppressors. It was not Gideon's might that saved his people, it was God's faithfulness (Judges 7:2).

That's what happened at Christmas, and what my daughter told in stickers. When the earth was still held in bondage to sin, and Satan's bar rested across man's back, the angels came anouncing God's favor with trumpets and a birth occurred in a manger in the midst of chaos to prove that God is faithful and mighty to save.

So where do you sit today this Christmas? Are you waiting, are you trying to get the best seat, are you stepping on people...are you trying to break the rod across your back yourself? Or are you trying to stare at Jesus face to face, to see the one who was sent to break the rod across your back for you?

Welcome to the chaos my friends, be of good cheer, for Christ has come, and the bar is broken. The old-sticker-story still holds true... A great light has come into the world,who is Christ the Lord. We are free. Now go and run down your street and tell everyone you see.

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 15, 2008

drenched in mercy

Psalm 126:1-6 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

I've got a history with water and the ocean...for as long as i can remember I've always had a passion for being on, in, under and around water. I was a full-fledged surf-rat for years. People knew better than to ask me how the surf was when they pulled up to the local break and saw me getting out of the reply was always the same..."it's better than being dry" matter what the waves were like, when i needed to get wet i paddled out...

I did spend a summer living in Colorado rock climbing...(if it weren't for rocks, everyone would be a surfer). I was really far from the beach, but I still managed to survive. While I was there I used to go for hikes in the middle of nowhere. I lived at the base of the Platte, so there were these dry river beds around that only filled up during the flash-floods. A single inch of rain could fill these harmless, parched trenches with enough water to cause devastation. Instantaneous, powerful, couldn't-see-it-coming-kind of floods.

That's what the "watercourses of the Negev are like...barrenness in the wilderness...and God's people are opening their mouths wide and asking the Master to cause a flash flood of mercy to rain down upon restore their fortunes, to bring life to their dry beds, to bring green grass in the heat of drought

...and He answered in just that manner....when Mary birthed mercy, and the flood of grace came forth into the world...
are you sitting in a dry bed waiting? Are you bringing drops of water to the thirsty, or buckets? Is your well dry? Cry out for the flood, and be drenched in mercy