8. Christmas & Unmentionables

Philippians 2: 5-11 (FNV)
Think about yourselves in the same way Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One thought about himself.

Even though Creator Sets Free (Jesus) has always been the same as the Great Spirit and shared everything equally with him, he did not even think of holding on to this in a selfish way.
     Instead, he emptied himself, became nothing, and gave up all he had. Then, having been born as a human being, he took on himself the lowly form of a servant.
     As a True Human Being, he lowered himself even more by following the guidance of the Great Spirit, even when death was waiting for him at the end of the trail, death on a tree-pole – the cross!
     Because Creator Sets Free (Jesus) did this, the Great Spirit gave him an honored place above all others and bestowed on him a name greater than all other names, so that all who live in the spirit-world above, on the earth below, and underneath the earth will bow their knee to Creator Sets Free (Jesus) in honor of his name. Then everyone, in their native language, will shout out loud that Creator Sets Free (Jesus) the Chosen One is Grand Chief aver all the earth. This will bring honor and praise to our Father the Great Spirit.

Unmentionables. When words wrestle with language that can articulate what needs to be said, I find myself in this familiar state of panic and come to grip with, the fact that, I am desperately out of control. I fight with English in the first place because it’s a language that many have already heard and perhaps it has just grown too stale for me to refresh. But as I wait just a second to catch my breath, I think (as I type these words) that it’s not these words that have grown stale at all, but rather my own passion. So, I must press in. With a world withering away to where it must go, I sit here talking to myself…and you, whoever “you” are. And if I were any less satisfied, I’d complain. But I sit here typing on a laptop computer, a mere two feet away from a window laying open to a view of snow falling, blanketing, and turning this fallen world into a place that I, for the time being, don’t mind living in right now. The white world reminds me how pale in comparison this moment is compared to a place I’ve never seen but love. Through all the bellyaching, fulfillment, weeping and more jolly times, I can only in my best imagination conjure up a faint picture of what I think, or hope, Heaven is like. But something in me doesn’t even seem to care. All I know is that it’s beyond what I can imagine, and Jesus is there so I’ll keep on imagining to the best of my ability and try to come close…even though I never will. Even with the piecing together of Scripture, books and illustrations, my understanding is at best “in a mirror dimly.” But it’s a fun game, to know that the best of my imagination cannot even come a fraction of an inch to the reality that the Creator has created in the place that someday I’ll see. And as I go through my winter clothes to find my favorite old sweater, I remember this is only to “make do” until I have a glorified body.

There’s something just on the brink of the unreachable and as I stretch to try to catch some for you, I’ll try not to fall. Like reaching for a tin can on the top shelf of a cupboard, as I barely catch its bottom rim with the very tip of my longest finger, I’ll try not to topple it and get it all over you. But since you’re metaphorically standing so close to me, I guess you’re asking for it.

Let’s open the age old can of hope and delight that is age old because it’s not only older than my age, but older than your age, I’m sure, and older than the oldest old that I can fathom. It’s “Glory.” The Glory of God. A universe-forming, time-spinning hand that created this world as easily as a little leaguer rubs a baseball into the palm of his hand. And as this Sovereignty breathed our strongest breath with His weakest, I look outside and watch the snow blow and drift on what seems to be the aftermath of the same breath that breathed life into me. All creation groans, shouts, and cries out for the breath that will finally breathe it one breath closer to completion, and peace from its sadly inherent fallen nature. The fallen world sits fallen, hardly by accident…and I’m not so sure on purpose, even though someday I’d like Him to tell me for certain. This Glory that sits on the edge of what we can grasp…waits. It waits for another prodigal to come home, and for another adulteress to be caught so she can be lavished with love. Or maybe for another pilgrim to journey with all of his might to find this thing that sits right under his nose: the love of a lover who gives His life to show all what love is, and how nothing is ever quite beyond it, a Glory that we count on being so far out of our reach that it breaks all rules by coming as a paradox, looking like everything that we fear. Poverty, humility, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

Christmas with all its eggnog and mistletoe should make us squirm. Into this “melting pot” of culture and tradition we mildly throw in the Presence of God. God came too close for comfort to show us that true comfort can’t be found in this world. The twinkling lights and commercialistic glitter should make us squirm, eager to abandon cultural norms in exchange for only a Holy baby and “on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14). But does it? In all our best attempts to be “deep” we still find that we’re treading water in the kiddie pool. We cling to our tradition because it becomes so much a part of us that to cease them would be like amputating an arm. But somehow if we would just lay it all down and listen closely to the Spirit in us as it speaks through the Scripture, just maybe we might hear, “…Jesus Christ, who being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Christmas should spur us on to abandon if it is truly the celebration of God abandoning His rightful Glory to show us that He loves us, and that His love is something with no boundaries. “…And became obedient to death-even death on a cross!” And in our fear of where our obedience might take us…we step out, trusting that it will end in a way as to see His glory more clearly, or maybe, at least, show to the world that looks on that we really do love Him in this moment…as we pray that we’ll have the strength to do the same thing in the next moment.