Wednesday, January 13, 2010

missing you, finding jesus

Round 2: A second post that I sent to The Crossing community via email. This one went round on New Year's Eve Day:

It's been a strange few weeks. On the one hand, it's potentially the most religion-permeated season of the year (if Jesus IS the reason for the season ...). Advent was all about preparing and watching and hoping for redemption. Now we've slowed down to rest at the heart of the Christmas season (and yes, it is a season of the church year -- that's why we sing about "The 12 Days of Christmas"!). During these precious and luminous days, we sit with the vulnerable, impoverished child who is God incarnate among us, flesh and blood and hope and breath and all. Then, on January 6, we open the door to Epiphany. In that season, we -- like the wise men -- draw near to celebrate the transformative presence of Jesus among us, and witness him growing, ministering, healing, teaching and shining light so people could see the reign of God breaking in.

So much of Jesus' life to sit with, meditate on, be changed by! And yet, as a community, The Crossing doesn't officially gather on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. Instead, our Cathedral family hosts big annual services both nights, to which we're all more than welcome. (NOTE: Tonight's First Night Interfaith Service begins at 11:15pm.) The fact is, it will be January 7 -- a day into Epiphany -- by the time we break open God's word and gather at the table together. I don't know about you, but I've missed having my home church community to help me to make the most of these meaningful, potentially transformative seasons.

To stay connected and rooted, I've been reading scriptures and pairing them with selections from a wonderful book of daily readings for Advent and Christmas, Watch for the Light. It features short (3 to 4-page) pieces from spiritual writers like Meister Eckhart, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, John Donne, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen and many more. I've had the book for several years, and each year it never fails to open my mind and heart to new appreciation of the Incarnation.

At Christmas, I often quote Meister Eckhart, who said, "We are all mothers of God, for God is always waiting to be born." But this year, Tuesday's reading from Watch for the Light -- a selection from liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez -- zinged straight to my heart and stayed there. I offer it to you today, on this day of good-byes and beginnings. I offer it in the hope that, wherever you are, whenever you read these words, you might pause and hear the humming of a whole circle of brothers and sisters praying and reflecting with you.

From The God of Life by Gustavo Gutierrez, excerpted in Watch for the Light (pp. 251-252):
It is often said at Christmas that Jesus is born into every family and every heart. But these "births" must not make us forget the primordial, massive fact that Jesus was born of Mary among a people that at the time were dominated by the greatest empire of the age. If we forget that fact, the birth of Jesus becomes an abstraction, a symbol, a cipher. Apart from its historical coordinates the event loses its meaning. To the eyes of Christians, the incarnation is the irruption of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.

I am grateful to be on this road with each of you, making meaning and building a community of people seeking and following this Jesus. Praise be to the One who came erupting into human history in the most scandalous, unimaginable way possible. Praise be to the One who is still shockingly alive in our midst. Praise be to Jesus.

Amen and blessing,

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