Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Favorites

Another No Particular Order series, but how can I resist?

Christmas lights
Wrapped packages
Midnight on Christmas Eve
Christmas magic
Cinnamon
O Holy Night
What Child is this?
My daughter playing Carol of the Bells on the piano
Snow
Feeding the birds
Ornaments
Jingle bells
Gingerbread men
The Magi
Our Christmas tree
Laughter
Little girls in Christmas dresses
Baking
Secrets
Gatherings
Hope
Red
Poinsettias
Christmas stories (esp. The Miracle of Jonathan Toomey and The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie DePaolo)
The Little Drummer Boy
Creativity
Twelve Days of Christmas packages
Crèches and Nativities
Candles
Stillness
Reconciliation
Christmas magic
Sausage balls
Last minute rush
Very little sleep
Home
The people we love
Immanuel—God with us.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

For weeks I have been thinking about Jesus' words: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God. I have contemplated and pondered what Jesus meant--not what the commentaries or bible study authors suggest, but what did Jesus mean?

This past week God gave me a glimpse of the reality of Jesus' words.

A couple of friends and I were having a conversation with a precious woman. It was one of those random, out-of-the blue conversations.

Unplanned. Unrehearsed.

At least by us.

I can see this woman's face clearly. Gently rounded. Lovely skin. Wounded eyes.

The woundedness in her eyes broke my heart.

In the course of the conversation we started talking about church--church in general. Then we discussed the church my friends and I are a part of. We wanted her to join us and we told her. We did so because we have found healing and love there. And this woman needs both.

She looked at us and took a deep breath. The breath was so deep her chest visibly rose. Then she spoke.

"I am not sure if I can say this without crying." She whispered. She was right. The tears pooled in her eyes. She took another deep breath. I took one with her. "I am not sure If I can live up to it."

In that moment I understood religion had required too much of her. The weight of its expectations had been too great a burden.

My heart broke.

The three of us were stunned.

What a beautiful, real admission.

Simultaneously we said, "Neither can we. No one can. That's why we have grace. Jesus' grace fills the gap."

She was stunned.

The conversation started and ended in less than thirty minutes.

It was a pinhead space of time, yet a thousand angels were dancing.

A lucid, luminous moment illuminating the sweet grace of God.

If Jesus had been talking to this woman he would have told her she was not far from the Kingdom of God. It was very near her; in fact, in her statement it actually arrived and could belong to her.

Being poor in spirit means we acknowledge that we fall short. We agree there is a lack we cannot satisfy.

Religion tells us just how far we fall short and just how much we lack.

Sadly, religion also stops there--leaving the burden pressed and biting into our shoulders--with little or no hope.

On the front doors of the church we go to there is a statement: Real Hope for Real People.

Jesus offers real hope.

Jesus said when we acknowledge the poverty of our spirit then we are blessed.

When we look at the reality of our true poverty, then ours is the kingdom of God.

And we have hope.

I want this dear woman to know the richness and lavishness of God's grace. I want her to experience him filling in the gap. I want her to feel her spirit expand with the hope He offers. I want to see the woundedness in her eyes heal.

Blessed are the poor in spirit...