The Paradox of Already But Not Yet

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If ever you find yourself in the midst of paradox,
you can be sure you stand on the edge of truth.

~Diana Gabaldon from An Echo in the Bone

 

 

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Tomorrow we begin the season of Advent: the greatest time of year for great mystery and paradox.

One who never left us, came to us, did not leave us hopeless,  yet will come again.
Already, but not yet.

This is the ultimate paradox of our times:
Our Creator God pierces through the veil of humankind to become us, His Image Man;
He comes to live among us to live in us and for us and through us,
to die for us and rise to life again so that we may not die but live.

He has come, He never left, yet He will come again.

When we feel ourselves in the midst of paradox, we find we are on the verge of Truth.
Perhaps enough paradox for one day — standing on the edge of Truth feels a tad overwhelming.

More to come…

 

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The Price of Restoration

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We live in an unbelieving age
but one which is markedly and lopsidedly spiritual…
an age that has domesticated despair
and learned to live with it happily.
There is something in us
that demands the redemptive act,
that demands that what falls
at least be offered the chance to be restored.
…what <modern man> has forgotten is the cost of it.
His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether,
and so he has forgotten the price of restoration.

This is an unlimited God
and one who has revealed himself specifically.
It is one who became man
and rose from the dead.
It is one who confounds the senses and the sensibilities,
one known early on as a stumbling block.
There is no way to gloss over this specification
or to make it more acceptable to modern thought.
This God is the object of ultimate concern
and he has a name.

~Flannery O’Connor from a 1963 lecture published in Mystery and Manners

He has a name,
this God of specificity,
and asks us to say His name.
It sounds like a breath,
so we say it
with each breath we take
even when we don’t believe.
And He knows our name
and calls out to us
even if we don’t listen.

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Finding a Thin Place

 

cobsunsetpnp14“Thin places,” the Celts call this space,
Both seen and unseen,
Where the door between the world
And the next is cracked open for a moment
And the light is not all on the other side.
God shaped space. Holy.

~Sharlande Sledge

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…in a thin place, there is an immediacy of experience
where words of faith become words of life…
~Sylvia Maddox

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Deep peace of the running wave
Deep peace of the flowing air
Deep peace of the quiet earth
Deep peace of the shining stars
Deep peace of the Son of Peace.
~Celtic blessing

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Our Lord is great, and great His praise
From just this one small part of earth,
Then what of the image of His greatness
Which comes from the whole of His fine work?
…What of the greatness and pure loveliness,
Of God Himself?
~Thomas Jones, Welsh Minister

Listening to Lent — Causes Me to Tremble

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Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Well, were you there when the stone was rolled away?
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when the stone was rolled away?

Listening to Lent — Show Me the Way

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As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way!

O sisters let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sisters let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the robe & crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O brothers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
Come on brothers, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O fathers let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O fathers let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the robe and crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O mothers let’s go down
Come on down, don’t you wanna go down?
Come on mothers, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the starry crown?
Good Lord show me the way

O sinners, let’s go down
Let’s go down, come on down
O sinners, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good ol’ way
And who shall wear the robe and crown?
Good Lord show me the way
~American Spiritual

Sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, sinners~
that covers us all, not a one left out.
Cleansed and crowned
and studying what we need to know:

Good Lord, show us the way to you.

Blossoming for Him

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He who has come to men
dwells where we cannot tell
nor sight reveal him,
until the hour has struck
when the small heart does break
with hunger for him;

those who do merit least,
those whom no tongue does praise
the first to know him,
and on the face of the earth
the poorest village street
blossoming for him.
~Jane Tyson Clement “With Hunger for Him”

In the somber dark of a new year’s winter morning,
when there seems no hope for sun or warmth,
I hunger for the comfort
only He can bring.
He calls me forth from where I have hidden,
buried face down in my troubles,
committed only to complain.

If I grab hold, He lifts me
from the frozen ground
into the light,
breaking through to
burst with gratitude
into blossom.