Saturday, December 31, 2011

His Was Not the First Cry at Birth

His was not the first cry at birth
and certainly not the last cry at death.
Many before and since have crossed
these vast thresholds and likewise uttered.
Yet his brief span, his first and last cries –
sinewed with flesh and blood, as ours,
contrapuntal with joy and pain, as ours –
voiced all birth and death, all hopes and sighs,
and sounded heaven and earth, above,
below, with full-spent passion, with love:
thus pierced our silent, brooding night
with heart-cleft notes, toward a lilting light.

Christmas 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Expectations and God's Good News

"Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel."

Rejoice. God will be with you, Israel. It seems a simple thing. God comes in grace and love to dwell among his people. Surely his people will welcome him and take joy in his presence. Yet clearly many, even most, in Israel did not rejoice when God came to be with them in Jesus. They did not recognize, they did not welcome, God-with-them-in-Jesus. Jesus, the long anticipated and much hoped for messiah, savior, did not meet expectations.

We are no different today from Israel then. God's good news does not conform to our expectations, yet it is good news. How can it be good news if it does not appear to fit our expectations, even our hopes? It is good news because God makes it good news, because God, not we, knows what news is good for us, what is good for us. Our radical disjunction from God so profoundly affects us that we cannot accept or even know the good God knows we need, the good God has in store for our being.

So we miss it and even reject it. The good news of the child born in Bethlehem gets tossed into the rubbish pit of the cross. Yet even there, in God's grace and love, it remains good news for Israel, for us, for all the world. For this news, as God himself, with us in Jesus, persists and indeed triumphs through life and death to new life, from good to good, more true and more glorious than any good we can imagine or hope to know and live.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Honeysuckle in October

Light rain and mist spatter the last of October,
even as this late, oh so late, fragment of summer
vines through the rusted bracken and bramble
which crowd both sides of the road we travel.