Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Christmas God-freck

We just returned from spending the Christmas holidays with our daughter and family. We were delighted to discover that the two oldest grandkids are into homemade gifts. Six-year-old Paige made us a book, and I now want to share it, part of my vocation of encouraging young writers.

Christmas is the best holiday ever
(by Paige Gault)

I like Christmas a lot not decause of the prestents decause of God
I also like things like elfs maby I mostle like snowdall the Elf I like him a lot
I mit also like Santa and reinder bat I mostle like GOD!
I am a God freck a Big Woon!
I like the manger set a lot,
bet I do like presits a lot too!

Merry Christmas and happy new years

Happy holydays to you, too. From another God-freck (a Big Woon).

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mary's song

by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove's voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breathe, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas program

(North Valley Friends Church, 1979)

Bales of real hay
clump around
the false manger.
The choir files in,
an unheavenly host,
to predestined slots on stage.
I spot David,
my almost angelic son;
Our eyes connect;
he grins.
Joseph and Mary arrive.
The mini-Madonna clutches the Babe;
his plastic head sticks out, unsupported,
and does not fall.
"Tough kid," I think.
Pajama-clad animals
mill around the manger.
My small daughter, a miscast lamb,
flops her ears
and bleats to the music, all mischief.
For the next twenty minutes
I strain on the edge of the pew
as bathrobed wise men
and mock shepherds
march in and mumble their lines.
The third wise man sneezes,
Gabriel giggles,
and I suppress my own mirth
when suddenly
I see the Christ,
perceive the glory,
and adore.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Quaker response to Christmas

We Quakers are in a good position to respond to the Christmas season. With our dual nature of being both Friends of Jesus and those who quake in the presence of the living God, at our best we bring together both the imminence and transcendence of God. Thomas Kelly described the early Quakers as being “ablaze with the message of the greatness and the nearness of God.” 

Christmas demands we bring together the nearness and greatness of God. God sent Jesus in an intimate, down-to-earth form—as a helpless baby, needing to be held, changed, fed. That’s the imminence part, God’s nearness to the human condition.

The angels and shepherds got the transcendence part right. I love the King James description of the shepherds being “sore afraid,” uniting pain with terror. More than a helpless baby, this child was the Lord of lords and King of kings in unlikely disguise. Something for the heavenly hosts to shout “Hallelujah!” about.

Sunday in programmed worship, Cherice Bock, our message-bearer, quoted G. K. Chesteron: “Man is bored to death listening over and over to a story he has never heard.”  As we listen again to the Christmas story, which we have all heard over and over, I invite you to join me in opening the “eyes of our hearts,” and seeing afresh in the baby, Emmanuel, God with us. Then let us, in the words of the old hymn, become “lost in wonder, love and praise.”