New Year’s Eve Post

It doesn’t feel like New Year’s Eve.  Maybe that’s because the tree outside my window has all it’s leaves, and I live in a perpetual early spring climate.  Early spring was a lot more fun when it followed winter.  I comfort myself with the ocean, it’s ebb and flow to remind me that there is indeed a rhythm to all life and change.

Holidays mark the passing of our lives, give shape to the seasons, and remind us to take an inventory.  I like to take this time between Christmas and New Years (and the first few weeks of the year) to make sense of where I’ve been and where I’m going.   It is a perfect time for this, following my birthday and last year my advent into full time ministry.

Words to describe 2010, my 29th year: preparation, cocooning, foundations, Charismania and the Spirit filled church.  Forgiveness, peace, and rest.  Sense-making, denial-untangling, truth-speaking love.  Community.  Relationship.  Art, music, violin, voice.  Season’s changing.  Chewl.

What words describe your year?

Know God

Sometimes you get to know what God is doing.

Sometimes you know that God is moving.

Sometimes you know God.  And that is enough.

I’ve heard this message three times today, from three different women in my life.  I like knowing the details, seeing how God brings together pieces and people all over  the world at just the right moment for something incredible to happen.  I like knowing what God is doing in me, how, and why…having a story to tell and being able to explain all that is going on.  But, I have been reminded thrice, that’s not always how it works…and sometimes it’s better that way.

Okay, it’s probably better that way a lot.

(Don’t you need my help with that God?  I could do this over here, wouldn’t that be good?  How about some minor adjustments to the plan…?)

I think of Ester, and how she did not know what she was getting into, what would happen or how it would go.  Dear Miss Ester…the only book of the Bible where God is not mentioned by name, and yet by the end of the book you can see His hand so clearly.  Sometimes, it seems, you don’t need to know the whole plan…even when your life is on the line.  Even then, you can step out because you know God…know His character and know you can trust Him.

I do like knowing, though.

Perfection(ist)

I woke up too late to go for a run on the beach (my first since the car wreck) and decided that a 20 minute walk would do me some good.  As I keep telling my roommate Paula (from Finland), “Baby steps.”

17 minutes into my walk, as I am nearing my own house, my rambling thoughts and prayers return to a request that God would change something I don’t like about myself.

“No.”  His simple answer.

“What?  Why?”

“You don’t get to be perfect.”

The words settled quickly in my soul with a sense of peace I like to call relief.

Incarnation

Something about the light in Kansas City makes me want to write, and I am finding after two weeks that I have more to say than time to say it in.  The 2,000 mile treck home to California has only confounded the matter.  So rather than revisiting all the stirring thoughts of the last three weeks, I want to start here, now, with Christmas and the wonder of the Incarnation.

Incarnation…from the Latin word carnis meaning flesh, from which we get words like “carnitas” (mmmm…chili con carne) and “carnal”.  In + caro means God puts on skin and becomes a man.  The Gospel of John puts it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

Wait a minute…this is GOD.  The tabernacle and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament were created so that He could travel with the Israelites in the wilderness and not KILL them with His holiness.  God, for whom we have a glaring lack of ability to comprehend, even in poetic images: the bush that burns and is not consumed, the fire by day, cloud by night, deep darkness, everlasting light.  Angels…gargantuan creatures of epic ferocity, fly around Him, covering their eyes and feet and crying out “Holy!  Holy!  Holy!”  This is GOD.

And He became flesh.

He put on skin.  He became frail.  He submitted Himself to imperfect parents, siblings, teachers, friends.  He dwelt among us.

He put on skin so that He could know us in our frailty.

He put on skin so that He could change what it means to wear skin.