God Was Here: How Can This Be?

decdogwood

 

If God’s incomprehensibility does not grip us in a word, if it does not draw us into his superluminous darkness, if it does not call us out of the little house of our homely, close-hugged truths..we have misunderstood the words of Christianity.  
~Karl Rahner

 

dogwood111117

 

And he [John] will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?

Luke 1: 17-18

the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:29-38

 

 

dogwoodoct1

 

Zechariah asks:
How can I be sure?
How can I trust this is true even when it doesn’t make sense in my every day world?
How can I trust God to accomplish this?

These are not the questions to be asked; he was struck mute, speechless until immersed in the reality of impossibility and then he sang loudly with praise.

Instead, we are to ask, like Mary:
How can this be?
How am I worthy?
How am I to be confident within incomprehensibility and calm in the midst of mystery?
How am I to be different as a result?

It is when we are most naked, at our emptiest, that we are clothed and filled with God’s glory.
We do not need to be sure.
We just need to be.
Changed.

 

dogwoodsunset2

 

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadows call
Will fly away
May it be you journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Mornie utúlië (darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornie alantië (darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now
A promise lives within you now

 

 

pinkdogwood517

Awaiting His Arrival: From Silence to Time Suspended

trumpetersclose

 Immediately his (Zechariah’s) mouth was opened and his tongue set free,
and he began to speak, praising God:
because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.

~Luke 1: 64, 78-79

 

Upon the darkish, thin, half-broken ice
There seemed to lie a barrel-sized, heart-shaped snowball,
Frozen hard, its white
identical with the untrodden white
of the lake shore. Closer, its somber face—
Mask and beak—came clear, the neck’s
Long cylinder, and the splayed feet, balanced,
Weary, immobile. Black water traced, behind it,
An abandoned gesture. Soft in still air, snowflakes
Fell and fell. Silence
Deepened, deepened. The short day
Suspended itself, endless.
~Denise Levertov “Swan in Falling Snow”

And we are silenced too by our questioning the motives of God, by trying to be God ourselves, and so sit suspended, immobile, in the darkening quiet, waiting, waiting.
We are met by the tender mercy of His light illuminating our deepening, raised to the eternal, suspended, forgiven endlessly.

 

swanedit

 

Awaiting His Arrival: From Doubt to Assurance

Matthias-Stomer-Annunciation-Painting
Matthias Stomer’s Annunciation

 

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?
Luke 1:18

“How will this be?” Mary asked the angel
Luke 1:34

Zechariah asks:
How can I be sure?
How can I trust this is true even when it doesn’t make sense in my every day world?
How can I trust God to accomplish this?

These are not the questions to be asked;
he was struck mute, speechless until immersed in the miracle of impossibility
and only then assured by the Lord and released from silence, he sang loudly with praise.

Instead, we are to ask, like Mary:
How can this be?
How am I worthy?
How am I to be confident within incomprehensibility and calm in the midst of mystery?
How am I to be different as a result?

It is when we are most naked,
at our very emptiest,
that we are clothed and filled with God’s glorious assurance.
We do not need to be sure
to accept what He asks of us.
We just need to be.
Changed.

 

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality.
With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season

Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content
Of sorts. Miracles occur,
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance miracles.
The wait’s begun again,
The long wait for the angel.
For that rare, random descent.
~Sylvia Plath from “Black Rook in Rainy Weather”

Advent Sings: How Can I Be Sure?

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

And he [John] will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?

Luke 1: 17-18

If God’s incomprehensibility does not grip us in a word, if it does not draw us into his superluminous darkness, if it does not call us out of the little house of our homely, close-hugged truths..we have misunderstood the words of Christianity. 
~Karl Rahner

Zechariah asks:
How can I be sure?
How can I trust this is true even when it doesn’t make sense in my every day world?
How can I trust God to accomplish this?

These are not the questions to be asked; he was struck mute, speechless until immersed in the reality of impossibility and then he sang loudly with praise.

Instead, we are to ask, like Mary:
How can this be?
How am I worthy?
How am I to be confident within incomprehensibility and calm in the midst of mystery?
How am I to be different as a result?

It is when we are most naked, at our emptiest, that we are clothed and filled with God’s glory.
We do not need to be sure.
We just need to be.
Changed.

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

An Advent Tapestry: The Tender Mercy

Luke 1: 78-79

“…because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Zechariah was an old man when he was told by an angel from God that his prayers would be answered–though childless, he and his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in their old age who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Zechariah understandably doubted: “How can I be sure of this?” and lost his ability to speak until the time came to name his son, at which time “his tongue was set free.”

So he sang a beautiful song of prophesy about his son John and the One who is to come, about the light amid the darkness.  He sings of the tender mercy of our God, a most touching confession from one who had doubted only months before.

Despite all our doubting and uncertainty, despite all the evidence of His loving sacrifice for us, despite our dwelling in the shadows, the rising son comes to us out of God’s tender mercy and caring for us.

Our feet will find the path of peace, one step at a time, one heart beat following another.