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Welcome Little One

Welcome little one.
Welcome in.
Shed your light
on this
world of sin.

Sin so dark.
Hearts so cold.
Death stealing life
since days of old.

Bring your truth
as you
shed your light.
Light of hope
on this wintry night.

Free our hearts
with your
perfect love.
The perfect blessing
from above.

Welcome little one.
Bring your light.
Fill our hearts.
Make all things right.

Angels sing.
Hearts rejoice.
Divine baby
born at last.

Rejoice all men.
Freedom is here.
No longer captive,
no reason for fear.

For the light of hope
has come at last.
All things made right.
Redemption from the past.

Welcome little one.
Welcome in.

On Being Shipwrecked

Brennan Manning in his essay, Shipwrecked at the Stable, likens those who find themselves kneeling low to catch a glimpse of the holy one in the stable to the shipwrecked of the world. He quotes author Jose Ortega who says, “And this is the simple truth – that to live is to feel oneself lost. Whoever accepts this has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling.”

I still remember being a little girl, standing on the shore of Lake Michigan for the first time. I was awed by the sheer magnitude of the moving blue expanse before me. Standing on a large piece of driftwood, wave after wave threatened to knock me down. The beauty, power and immensity of the water captured a firm place in my heart. Those who know me best know that I have a deep and somewhat absurd love for the ocean, and any large body of water that tricks my mind into thinking it is a never-ending expanse of azure beauty. That something so beautiful contains such power and majesty has thrown my heart down off of whatever piece of driftwood I might be clinging to in life and laid me low at the foot of the its creator, the Messiah King time and time again.

Being one of the shipwrecked myself, I have to wonder about the shipwrecked in the Christmas story. The few who appeared at the foot of the manger, each of them gazing in wonder at the hope of the world. I can’t help but wonder about their lives. I wonder what the shepherds were talking about just before the angel of the Lord appeared. Were they talking about the day’s news? Maybe they were commiserating about the struggles of living under the cruel authorities that ruled them? Or perhaps, they were seeking honest help from a good friend in how best to get through to that one beloved child who seemed to be choosing a less than desirous path? Sickness in the family threatening to steal away the life of a loved one? The harsh weather threatening their fold of sheep? Again, we simply don’t know. But these men, just like all of those who made their way to the manger were people just like me and just like you. Their hurts and problems were as painfully real as ours today. They were living their hum-drum lives out on what appeared another ordinary day. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t anything like ordinary. In a moment’s notice, the ordinary turned into the extraordinary.

“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to men on
Whom his favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
Luke 2:17

They hurried off. The angel of the Lord told them of this extraordinary gift of hope and they hurried off to find him. They ran to him with the desperation of the shipwrecked, with honest seeking. God breathed into their circumstances, through this wondrous baby who was the King of Kings. An encounter with this baby and their lives were changed forever. Hope is a wonderful thing. God in his great mercy offers it to each of us every day. His unbelievable gift of hope and salvation is in the words of the angel, “…for all the people…” Come join the shipwrecked at the stable. I’ll be there. There is simply no other place to be.

Waiting in Hope

The waiting of Advent gives us the opportunity to prepare our hearts – to open them to be a living dwelling place for the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Immanuel – God with us. Yet, the prospect of waiting can be a painful one. Waiting for healing; for good news; for an end to the ache in an empty and broken heart; for restoration and reconciliation in a tense and broken relationship – these times of yearning are filled with pain.

God’s chosen people knew something about waiting. Hundreds of years had passed since God had spoken his promise of a coming King and Messiah that would lead the bruised and battered nation, Israel, out of the pain of captivity. “The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” “The days are coming when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and will do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:14; 23:5-6

Israel had fallen captive to one empire after another. God’s promise was like a healing balm to their pain of enslavement. But so many years had passed, generations had come and gone. From the biblical accounts, we’re told of only a handful of those who we find waiting expectantly for God to fulfill his promise.

In our world today, the prospect of waiting is one met with impatience. Waiting isn’t tolerated in a world moving at breakneck speed, a world of instant everything. This kind of waiting is filled with an emptiness and futility. The waiting few that we find aren’t waiting in this empty state of nothingness. Rather, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna waited actively, alert, prepared and hopeful. Their expectant waiting took place at a time when God had appeared to be silent to his beloved nation.

How is it possible for them to have waited in expectation? Their waiting was based upon the knowledge that throughout their history God was always faithful to keep his promises. So, they waited with confident hope knowing that the God who promised freedom from captivity through a Messiah King would be true to his word. There is something intrinsically different in waiting for a promise to be fulfilled by someone who has always faithfully kept their promises. A confidence exists, a surety that what was promised simply will be.

Like these few who knew of God’s faithfulness, not just as part of a nation but personally, I too wait in eager expectation and hope, in the God who in his perfect love and holy righteousness is absolutely trustworthy to keep his Word. He is a God of hope, longing to dwell, not in some beastly stable ridden with the wintry night air, but in the hearts of those he lovingly created in His own image.

Throw open the doors of your heart. Let him dwell there. Immanuel – God with us. God in us. All the light and warmth of the divine will free your captive, hurting heart. May he dwell in you today.