Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Second Day of Christmas

I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys.

I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water.

I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
    the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.

I will set in the desert the cypress,
    the plane and the pine together,

that they may 
see and
   may consider 
and understand together,

that the hand of the Lord has done this,

    the Holy One of Israel has created it.


(Isaiah 41:18-20)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Hoping with Expectancy

It's Christmas morning: Bach's Christmas Oratorio is playing in the living room, a coffee cake is in the oven and the family is scattered around the house quietly for bible study before the day begins. But there is such a different feeling in the house than any other quiet family day. There is an expectancy in the air. The treasured traditional meal. The post-meal time of fellowship around the table in which we feast again, this time in worship. Then of course there is the tremored excitement of giving gifts (especially for those of us who are keen on surprises) a bit later in the day.

All these traditions are yet to come. But the most monumental moments of Christmas have already occurred. Last night, my family and I attended a midnight service at which I was playing, and at the stroke of 12, the bells pealed out into a silence which, despite fatigue, held the weight of hope. Immediately following, we feasted eagerly on "the gifts of God for the people of God" and then, with our own small candles lit from the Christ Candle, we sang out into the darkness of our hope. It is a hope too full for words: a hope that rests and exults in fulfillment while setting its face towards a day yet to come. It weeps for joy and it yearns for "the Fullness of Time" to come, once and for all. It celebrates the advent of the One who would inaugurate a new covenant in his own flesh, and cries out with an inexpressible ache for that One to come again in power and glory to make all things new. 

The pang of this kind of hope is everywhere. It is present when we find solace and peace and elation in the aspect of a glorious sunset and yet find the giddy inexplicable impulse (as my pastor said yesterday) "to climb inside it," to bathe in it, to become one with it rather than just stand on the outside and observe it. There will be a day!

It is there between lovers who find that as their souls are knit together, there doesn't seem to be a hug long enough or snug enough to express the joy and peace and safety they find in one another. It is almost as if the presence of two bodies rather than one becomes a nuisance: a barrier for the oneness which the soul longs towards. 

There are a thousand examples of this sort of solid hope which rests but also strains forward. The coffee cake is nearly ready, however, and Bach's cantata just finished so I'll stop here for now. May we rejoice today because our redemption has come! Hallelujah! But may we also hope with unshakable expectancy towards a day when Christ will return to marry His Bride, when the taste of what it means to be "in" Christ will become a full oneness with him, and when we will see his face (oh what a thought!) in new bodies able to climb into His glory. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent Day 9: Monday, December 11th

The lack of mystery in our modern life is our downfall and our poverty. A human life is worth as much as the respect it holds for the mystery. We retain the child in us to the extent that we honor the mystery. Therefore, children have open, wideawake eyes, because they know that they are surrounded by the mystery. They are not yet finished with this world; they still don’t know how to struggle along and avoid the mystery, as we do. We destroy the mystery because we sense that here we reach the boundary of our being, because we want to be lord over everything and have it at our disposal, and that’s just what we cannot do with the mystery…. Living without mystery means knowing nothing of the mystery of our own life, nothing of the mystery of another person, nothing of the mystery of the world; it means passing over our own hidden qualities and those of others and the world. It means remaining on the surface, taking the world seriously only to the extent that it can be calculated and exploited, and not going beyond the world of calculation and exploitation. Living without mystery means not seeing the crucial processes of life at all and even denying them. 

Ascension joy—inwardly we must become very quiet to hear the soft sound of this phrase at all. Joy lives in its quietness and incomprehensibility. This joy is in fact incomprehensible, for the comprehensible never makes for joy.

I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge 


Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. God Is In the Manger. Westminster John Knox Press. 

Advent Day 8 - Sunday, December 10th

Advent Day 7 - Saturday, December 9th

Advent Day 6 - Friday, December 8th

My soul doth magnify the Lord, 
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. 
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm. 
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 
He hath put down the mighty from their seat 
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things. 
And the rich he hath sent empty away. 
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel 
as he promised to our forefathers Abraham, and his seed forever. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent Day 3 - Tuesday, December 5th

Last night's reading from God is in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting—that is, of hopefully doing without—will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment. 

Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them. And for those who do not want to win the friendship and love of another person—who do not expectantly open up their soul to the soul of the other person, until friendship and love come, until they make their entrance—for such people the deepest blessing of the one life of two intertwined souls will remain forever hidden. For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming. 

Be brave for my sake, dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas-tide. We shall both experience a few dark hours—why should we disguise that from each other? We shall ponder the incomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness already enshrouding humanity, we should be subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand…. And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.

(Letter to fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer from prison, December 13, 1943)

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. God Is In the Manger (Kindle Locations 132-146). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition. 


A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
     and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, 
     the spirit of wisdom and understanding, 
     the spirit of counsel and might, 
     the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, 
     or decide by what his ears hear;

but with righteousness he shall judge the poor. 

Isaiah 11:1—4a

Advent Day 2 - Monday, December 4th

“O come Redeemer of the earth
And bring to us Your holy birth.
Break through the shadows of the night
With Heaven’s pure and radiant light.
O come our long awaited King As songs of adoration ring.
May voices join with every age
To tell the wonders of Your grace.

O come Redeemer of the earth
Where sorrows weep and longings thirst
Release us from the chains of sin
That we may live in peace again
Fulfill the ancient promises
Your Words of life and righteousness
Long loved by those who fear Your name
And look towards Your endless reign

O come Redeemer of the earth
O treasure of eternal worth
Come dwell within our kneeling hearts
Restore and flourish every part
Your very life You come to give
That though we die we yet shall live
And glorify Your holy name
As all the earth you will reclaim.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Advent Day 1 - Sunday, December 3rd

Even So Come

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing "even so come"
Lord Jesus, come 
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

There will be justice, all will be new
Your name forever, faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Oh, like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing "even so come"
Lord Jesus, come 
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You're coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church, ready for You
Every heart longing for our King, we sing
Like a bride waiting for her groom
We'll be a Church, we'll be ready for You
Every heart longing for our King, 
we sing "even so come"
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come 
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come 
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Coral Caravan and Family Time

Friday: First Dickens gig and family time around the fire

Saturday: Old Myrtle Jam gig at The Coral Caravan Festival

Hour 4

Hour 6

Sunday: Colonial Williamsburg and Richmond with the whole family!!

Monday: Smithfield with Ben and Shanna

Family Time and the first of the Advent Traditions