Glory in the common

blank squaredoor-open
When fascinated
with the spectacular,
we will miss glory
in the common.
A stable in Bethlehem
is not exactly
a flashy venue.

–Stephen Crosby

 

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Published in: on 11/30/2015 at 17:02  Leave a Comment  
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When God comes in

8fec65aa copyLord, come into my heart. It’s hard for me to get the door open very far, but if at the Incarnation you managed to squeeze into an embryo, perhaps you could make it into my heart too—even if I only manage to crack it open a bit.

Sorry about the clutter inside. There are things that shouldn’t be here, but come to think of it, the first place you came to wasn’t exactly a clean scrubbed hospital room—it was a barn. That being the case, perhaps you would venture to enter my heart too.

Dividers-1 cop

I have been told that sin is something you do not look upon or come close to. However, if a bad smelling cow shed was your place of your birth, there’s probably no place you wouldn’t come if invited. That’s a relief.

As a matter of fact, you seem to make a point of coming to where things are not as they should be. You walked and talked and ate with fallen, failing people; it appears that sin doesn’t keep you away.

And interestingly, when you come, sin decides it’s time to leave. It flees like darkness before the light. It melts like wax on a candle.

Dividers-1 cop

Thanks for coming into my heart. I know there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to go, but because you are here, I have a feeling it’s not going to stick around for long.

And not only that, but your presence causes everything that is wholesome and true and lovely to flourish and grow. When you are around goodness goes viral.

It makes me wonder why anyone would ever keep you out.

–Jurgen O. Schulz

Holiness in a barn

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Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of mankind.

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If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, the birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too.

–Frederick Buechner
Secrets in the Dark

Image:
“Behold The Lamb Of God”
by Walter Rane

It started in a stable

MichaelDudash-MaryTreasured

God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him. “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift was given.”

–Philip Yancey
The Jesus I Never Knew

Image: Michael Dudash

Published in: on 12/18/2014 at 3:08  Leave a Comment  
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Ongoing astonishment

MichaelDudash-SheBroughtForthaSon 1

Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said; “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens
and earth
Be born here, in this place?”
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler
rooms of our hearts
and says, “Yes,
let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here….
in this place.

-Leslie Leyland Fields

Image: Michael Dudash

Incomprehensible

Nativity-29

You can more easily
catch a hurricane in a shrimp net
than understand the wild, relentless,
love of God made present
in the manger.

–Brennan Manning

Image: Michael Dudash

What the donkey saw

Donkey

No room in the inn, of course,
And not that much in the stable
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary,
Joseph, the heavenly host –
Not to mention the baby
Using our manger as a cot.
You couldn’t have squeezed another cherub in
For love or money.

Still, in spite of the overcrowding,
I did my best to make them feel wanted.
I could see the baby and I
Would be going places together.

–U. A. Fanthorpe
(1929 – 2009)

Published in: on 12/22/2012 at 7:13  Leave a Comment  
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Turning point

door-open

The hinge of history
is on the door
of a Bethlehem stable.

–Ralph W. Sockman

Firmly in fellowship

Within the last century, the term fellowship has evolved into a construct that Christians use to talk about feelings of closeness to God at a given time. It’s a framework for relating to God that, unfortunately, we tend to develop from our interpersonal relationships. If we’ve sinned against a friend, family member, or coworker, we feel that our relationship with them is strained or broken until we apologize, are forgiven, and then restored to previous communication.

In the Scriptures, fellowship with God is not described in this way. Instead, a person is either in fellowship with God and therefore saved, or out of fellowship and therefore lost.

In the ten instances of the word fellowship
in the epistles, not once is there
a moving “in and out of fellowship” with God
based on recent performance.

Of course, we still mature spiritually. And when we sin, consequences hit us. We can’t escape the laws of the land. We also can’t escape the reactions of others. If we sin against someone, we may experience difficult circumstances and our own disappointment with our choice. But we shouldn’t mistake these earthly consequences for moving out of fellowship with God.

Our fellowship is stable and certain. God’s face is always toward us. When we sin, he’s there every step of the way to help us learn from our mistake. How arrogant it is to assume that we could escape sin alone, while out of fellowship, in order to get back in!

If we buy the lie that God sits in a swivel chair, ready to rotate his face away from us when we sin, then we proclaim a God of conditional love and conditional fellowship. But this is to ignore the work of Jesus, who on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus was out of fellowship with his Father so we would never be.

–Andrew Farley
(emphasis added)

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