Advent 2015 (the mess)

bono

Christmas of 2005, I received my very first U2 album. That was almost 10 years ago and single lines from those songs have stayed with me to this day . . . algebra on the other hand, has not.

I have a love/smirk relationship with Bono, quite different from a love/hate relationship, so don’t be confused. U2 has a way of sticking with me and the words below are of no exception. I read this interview 5-ish years ago and somehow my heart recalls it every year around Christmas time, without trying. It’s just stuck within. This is a long quote, but stay with me (or should I say, stay with Bono). It’s worth it.

“I remember coming back from a very long tour…On Christmas Eve I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral…It had dawned on me before, but it really sank in: the Christmas story. “The idea that God, if there is a force of Logic and Love in the universe, that it would seek to explain itself is amazing enough. That it would seek to explain itself and describe itself by becoming a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw…a child… I just thought: “Wow!” Just the poetry … Unknowable love, unknowable power, describes itself as the most vulnerable. There it was. I was sitting there, and it’s not that it hadn’t struck me before, but tears came streaming down my face, and I saw the genius of this, utter genius of picking a particular point in time and deciding to turn on this.Because that’s exactly what we were talking about earlier: love needs to find form, intimacy needs to be whispered. To me, it makes sense. It’s actually logical. It’s pure logic. Essence has to manifest itself. It’s inevitable. Love has to become an action or something concrete. It would have to happen. There must be an incarnation. Love must be made flesh. Wasn’t that your point earlier?”

Jesus comes into our mess. There must be an incarnation. He rolls up His sleeves and digs deep into humanity, knowing even better than we do, how sick our hearts are. There must be an incarnation. Knowing we will hurt Him, reject Him, and mock Him . . . describes itself as the most vulnerable. 

My heart has been heavy the past couple of weeks. But I can’t think of a better time to feel this way then when a child born in straw poverty, in shit and straw came to enter into this mess and establish His kingdom. I can’t help thinking that feeling empty and needy and broken is actually grace. . . because without feeling, without pain, I wouldn’t know I was sick. I wouldn’t know I needed a doctor. I wouldn’t be awaiting a Savior. Isn’t that what Advent is all about? Being needy? There must be an incarnation.

 

 

day 5 {not pretty}

In days 1-4, I shared snippets of my journey towards a greater reality. Often, we are given partial truths. Jesus acts as some sort of “get out of jail free” card and we can’t wait to leave this world behind. We watch the news with disdain, complain about the grotesque previews shown at the movie theater and roll our eyes at the latest trends. We can’t wait to get out of here.

The world is full of brokenness. Rape, tsunamis and starvation are very, very real. Broken relationships, greedy fingers and cutting words are part of the everyday. Infants pass, disease eats at our bodies and souls are reduced to their capability in bed. The world is full of brokenness. There are no buts. However, there is an AND YET.

AND YET.

Not many of us (or at least, I wasn’t) were taught that Jesus is coming back to restore creation. I was told He was coming back to destroy creation. The partial truth is that this world is broken. The full truth (or, as I like to call it, the “brighter truth”) is that this world is broken AND YET, we are partners with Christ. We are partners in restoring this world to what was (Eden) and what will be (peace, love, joy) until He returns and we truly live happily every after.

Fairy tales and happy endings appeal to us for a reason. Because we were made for them.

Happily ever after is no cliche.

We were made for Eden. This is why the smell of a newborn’s head, purple sunsets and good food appeal to us. Why something inside of us longs for justice, equality and peace. Because we were made for them.

As we wait for our happy ending, we get to partake in the healing process. Creation is broken but it is not hopeless. It is our joyous duty to carry out Adam and Eve’s creation mandate. To steward, build, and create.

Is it pretty? No. Is it beautiful? Yes.

 

Wise Words Wednesday

constellation

“I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring into myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.”

– Clyde Kilby

Growing up in church, I heard a lot about what I shouldn’t do and what I should do. I heard a lot about who I shouldn’t be and who I should be. This only breeds an inward monster. . . constant assessment of personal performance. Anxiety. Worry and fear of “slipping up.” This isn’t health. This is sickness. Sickness of soul. This sickness so quickly spreads to our mind and bodies. It is no accident that the quote above is listed as #8 in Kilbys, “10 Resolutions for MENTAL health.

Over time. Through pain. Through prayer. Through silence, it hit me . . . Jesus, (the very reason I even go to this thing called “church” in the first place) saved me from all this crap. Jesus was perfect so I don’t have to be. Because, truth be told, I’m not ever going to be perfect on this side of things. I can’t be perfect and He doesn’t expect me to be. People might expect me to be (even if they don’t say it outrightly) but I don’t live for other people. I live for Jesus. I might expect myself to be perfect but I don’t live for myself. I live for Jesus. Breathe.

By default, our eyes gaze inward, do they not? Our outfit. Our performance. Our weight. Our diet. Our messy cars and unmade beds. What the neighbors think. What our boss thinks. Our income. Our talents. Our purpose. We are constantly boring into ourselves, sizing up ourselves and evaluating our performance. This leads to both the high rolling jerk and the self deprecating hermit. The girl who finds self worth in her status, money, body, food, etc and the man who feels worthless given his low status, insufficient funds, sluggish body etc. It’s the same pendulum, it just swings to a different end.

Not only do we end up boring into ourselves, we end up losing ourselves. Our “uniqueness” is lost in the race to be better and the hopes of trying harder. We lose ourselves in the trying to be someone or something we simply are not.”by the envy of others.”

Enter GRACE. Jesus breaks the pendulum. He breaks all the rules. Jesus is probably the least conventional of us all. Why? Because He provides us a way out . . . a way out of ourselves, through Himself. Freedom from the hubris and freedom from the self-hatred. Freedom to be our unique selves.

When we forget about ourselves, when we lose ourselves in making art, soaking up the sun, running in the grass or absorbing the sunset’s splatter, we experience true freedom. Freedom from ourselves AND freedom to be ourselves. He offers a way to forget about ourselves and live for something outside of ourselves. He offers us big thoughts. He offers us real life. Something bigger and better than these passing shadows.

We can experience mental clarity, mental vitality when our souls are no longer clouded by the fascination with self. Instead, we can enjoy the peace, freedom and (quite simply) mental health found in forgetting ourselves and simply being ourselves. Imagine getting dressed without wondering how people are going to perceive your outfit of choice. If I wear my sweats will they think I’m athletic? Will they think I’m lazy? Imagine just being. Just resting in Someone Else. Someone Who frees you to “forget out (myself) and do my work.”

I don’t have grey hair but I can tell you, as a church kid who hates church, that Jesus can give you new eyes because He can give you a  new heart.

Featured art // Jenny Vorwaller 

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Here a few titles that could be or have been found in our hands, on our nightstands, end table and backpacks the past few weeks
1. The Fellowship of the Ring
2. The Colon Crisis
3. Out of the Silent Planet
4. Total Church
5. The Drama of Scripture
6. Jesus on Every Page
7. How the Queen Cleans Everything (This is ALWAYS being read . . . I use it at least once a week)
8. The Diabetes Epidemic

*picture above // Robert Wagt