We were impressed

We were impressed by the burning bush and the pillar of fire. We thought God was close in the Angel and in the Shekinah. But He wanted to be closer still. 

God-nearby-us wasn't good enough for Him. He gave Himself to become God-with-us. Yet that too was for something more: God-in-us! 

Isn't the Christ child the best gift we never could have expected?

I Love To Hear My Husband Sing

I love to hear my husband sing,
   because he sings like he lives:
   straightforwardly, honestly,
   without pretense, without effort to impress.

I used to be bothered when we stood in the congregation
and he didn't sing along or even mouth the words.
He would stand, sometimes shift uncomfortably,
sometimes close his eyes.

And I was beside him, singing with extra volume
to make up for his very rude silence,
and to protest his apparent protest.
But now I realize that he will sing
only when he means it
and he always means it when he sings.

I love to hear my husband's honest songs to God.

Like a Bat in the Kingdom of Men

But we see Jesus, 

  who was made a little lower than the angels

     for the suffering of death, 

crowned with glory and honor

that, apart from God, 

  he should taste death for everyone.*

…Christ Jesus, who

  being in very nature God, 

did not consider equality with God

  something to be held onto;

rather, he made himself nothing, 

   taking on the very nature of a servant, 

      being made in human likeness. 

   And being found in appearance as a man, 

      he humbled himself,

          becoming obedient to death,

              even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…**

We ourselves are creatures longing always for glory and exaltation. When we receive the promises of God, we receive their glory: eternal rest, neverending day, ceaseless joy. We grasp the hand of God in faith that we may be pulled up to higher planes. We are climbing Jacob's ladder, up, up, up. We envision ourselves as swallows, flying higher and still higher out of darkness and into glory---where we belong.

But we see the crucified demonstration of Godness is expressed in words like

Nothingness, Deadness, Apartness, Lowness.

Sin flipped the world, and into that inverted darkness came the Son of God, swooping down like a bat, that upside down creature for whom up is down and down is up. The end of a bat's journey is hanging upside down in darkness.

He placed himself as a sinner among sinners.
He placed himself fully under the judgment under which the world stands.
He placed himself there where God can only be present as a questioning after God.
At his highest, at the goal of his journey, He is a purely negative entity:
  by no means a genius, by no means one of occult psychic power,
  by no means a hero, leader, poet, or thinker: and precisely in this negation
("my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?")...***

Christ was nailed to a cross. His head was toward heaven and his feet were toward earth, but as he hung there, everything was upside down. Glory was ignominy, shame was exaltation, forsakeness was redemption, separation was reconciliation, lastness was firstness, lowness was highness. He hung like a bat in the kingdom of men.

midnight moon

*Hebrews 2:9

**Philippians 2:5-9

***Karl Barth, "Der Romerbrief," (Rom 3:22)

Yet It All Seems Limitless

"We get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four of five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

:: Paul Bowles