An Advent Paradox: Loose a Heart Bound By Shame

 

Here is the mystery, the secret,
one might almost say the cunning, of the deep love of God:
that it is bound to draw on to itself
the hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness and rejection of the world,
but to draw all those things on to itself is precisely the means,
chosen from all eternity by the generous, loving God,
by which to rid his world of the evils which have resulted from human abuse of God-given freedom.

~N.T. Wright from The Crown and the Fire

 

 

We cling to the mystery of His magnetism for our weaknesses and flaws.
He came in love to loose up our hearts ~
hearts completely bound up in shame and guilt.

He willingly pulls our evil onto Himself and out of us, freeing us.
Hatred and pain and shame and anger and bitterness
disappear into the fiery vortex of His love and beauty,
until evil is left in ashes.

We are let in on a secret, this mystery of His incarnation:

by torching the dirty messes of our lives in the refiner’s fire,
we are purified,
we too are wholly reborn.

 

 

 

 

Christ whose glory fills the skies
Christ the everlasting light
The son of righteousness arise
And triumph o’re these shades of night

Come thou long awaited one
In the fullness of your love
And loose this heart bound up by shame
And I will never be the same

So here I wait in hope of you
All my soul’s longing through and through
Dayspring from on high be near
Day Star in my heart appear

Dark and cheerless is the morn
Until your love in me is born
And joyless is the evening song
Until Emmanuel has come

So here I wait in hope of you
All my soul’s longing through and through
Dayspring from on high be near
Day Star in my heart appear

So here I wait in hope of you
All my soul’s longing through and through
Dayspring from on high be near
Day Star in my heart appear
~Christy Nockels based on the Charles Wesley hymn “Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies”

Awaiting His Arrival: From Dross to Gold

adventcandles

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.
Malachi 3: 3-4

    Now burn, new born to the world,
      Doubled-naturèd name,
   The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
   Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
Mid-numbered he in three of the thunder-throne!
Not a dooms-day dazzle in his coming nor dark as he came;
      Kind, but royally reclaiming his own;
A released shower, let flash to the shire, not a lightning of fíre hard-hurled.
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Wreck of the Deutschland”


Lenten Meditation: Refined and Scrubbed

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

Malachi 3:2

While looking at pictures of burning buildings in Japan after the earthquake,  it is wholly evident that much of the infrastructure in the effected areas is being completely consumed by fire, if it wasn’t swept away in the waves.  It is being quickly destroyed,  to eventually be rebuilt from the ground up.  There is nothing but debris, nothing left to salvage.

Yet we are told that God does not destroy his people like these buildings are destroyed.  Instead our debris and impurities are wiped away, as if painfully scrubbed by soap or refined by fire.  We are left whole, intact and unsullied.

Only then can we be ready for what is to come.

Advent Meditation–Refiner’s Fire

It is hard to admit: I need cleaning, and badly.  It isn’t just dirty fingernails after working in the barn, or the messed up hair after being out in the wind.  I am usually presentable most of the time, but there is still plenty of grime in every aspect of my being, primarily invisible and internal.

Refining is a painful process whether by complete melt down by fire  or a thorough scrubbing by soap.   Malachi addresses this and John Piper on www.desiringgod.org helps me understand why this must hurt:

“We were created in the image of God with the potential to reverence God and trust him and obey him and glorify him, but we were born in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us. We are shot through with the impurity of rebellion and unbelief, and we fall short of God’s glory again and again.

You can prove this to yourself in many ways. For example, you can notice how readily your heart inclines to those things that will show your strengths to other people, and how resistant your heart is to communion with God in solitude.

So we are impure by nature and by practice. But God will have no alloys in heaven. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ And yet he will have someone in heaven. He will have a redeemed people. His banquet hall will be full. And therefore he must be a refiner’s fire. If he were only a forest fire, heaven would be empty. If he were only an incinerating fire, heaven would be empty. And if he were no fire, heaven would be empty.”

Malachi 3:2