holy

Christmas confessions.

I really do not like Christmas hymns. Sharp pitched notes, different versions of the same thing…it’s not the cynical ‘I hate Christmas,’ because I love Christmas. I just do not like the music that is traditionally associated with it.

I do like Christmas music that is ‘not’ Christmas music to a lot of people. Brandon Heath has a beautiful song out right now called ‘Just a Girl.’ If you haven’t heard it, you must go track it down. I guarantee you will not regret it! I also love ‘Winter Snow’ by Chris Tomlin and Audrey Assad. I could listen to that song on repeat for hours!

There is one traditional song, well…two, really…that I do like. Every time I hear ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Silent Night’ I get chills. I think it is the lyrics and the dynamics of how it is sung when I hear the ‘Fall on your knees’…that leads into ‘O night divine.’

It is also because ever since I learned that the word ‘holy’ has roots to ‘set apart’ in the original Hebrew I have been fascinated by it. Let’s also clarify that set apart is also very different from being put up on a pedestal for no one to touch. Set apart to me means set apart for a purpose, set apart as one who claims the gift God offers in Jesus. It also means we choose to grab ahold of those holy moments and know that the tangible presence of God has touched us. That is holy for us…but in Revelation it says everyone was praising God all day and all night, and singing:

“‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” [Revelation 4:8]

Does this mean our God is unreachable? Too holy for us?

No. Why? Because we are talking about the same God who sent his son to be born on earth, to live here with us…then die on a cross because we have too many wrongs to make right in ourselves.

We are called to be holy as God is holy…but just as he makes himself available to us, we are not called to be unreachable and act as though we are better than those that do not call themselves believers. When we set ourselves too far apart from those that do not believe what we believe, we do an injustice to God who sent his son to earth to be friends with prostitutes, tax collectors, beggars, outcasts and those with leprosy.

So I leave you with my favorite lyrics from ‘O Holy Night,’ and if you’ve been reading my blog long enough…you’ll easily see why these lyrics are my favorite, and more likely why I have such an attachment to ‘O Holy Night.’

Truly He taught us to love one another.
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Advertisements

bound

Rock piled upon rock. Some smooth proving submission to a forming substance over a large amount of time. Others ragged and stubborn…all layered in a massive piled formation.

Varying colors of grey, dark grey, mottled brown and pieces of moss in places.

The shape takes form and it becomes alter-like.

On top lays a figure. Struggling, moving and desperate to be free.

IMG_0739A closer look finds wire…not just wire…barbed wire. Every movement pierces the skin. Tearing as each small point finds surface to impale. Over and over again.

Darkness closes in, so black that no light could ever pierce it. Screams flow out of the figure, yet bounce back as they hit the advancing wall of darkness. The pain and terror echoes as feelings of pain and the reality of being trapped start suffocating the figure.

Bound. Unable to move. No sight of freedom. Terrified of what happens next.

No…I am not sadistic. I am pondering a more spiritual image.

Of being bound by the things that are hurting our relationship with God and with others. At the core is usually sin and a refusal to acknowledge what is keeping us bound to it. But the layers…it is layer upon layer upon layer of the excuses we give to make something appear okay, while on the inside we are screaming.

How many times have you felt like something was holding on so tight to you that you would never be free of it?

How many times have you felt bound by something you have no control over?

How often have you felt shackled by the expectations of others that you have no hope of rising to succeed?

What has bound you up so tightly that you cannot possibly consider the possibility of being free?

Being bound is being so wrapped up in something that you cannot see beyond it. Life sucks? See no end in sight? No light at the end of the tunnel much less a tunnel to get through?

But there is…light busts in and Jesus’ love and resurrection become not only real but alive and active in this world. God does not desire his people to be bound to the sin in their lives. He does not desire that you would feel alone. He does not desire that you would feel there is no way out of a situation.

His desire for you is not of being bound so tightly that it will kill you to become loose, and feel as though you have no voice.

His desire is that you would be as delighted in his love for you, as he about his love for you since the beginning of time. That the freedom you feel from the ultimate sacrifice of his son would have you dancing, singing and praising all of the days of your life. Then in your freedom you would be his advocate, his witness…his ambassador to others. To be that reflection of his Kingdom that others need to see, because choosing to be bound takes away the reflection of God and the beauty of his love.

God’s love is not about being suffocated. God’s love does not revolve around what this world and its’ people put on you.

God’s love is sacrificial. God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is freedom in this life and the one beyond.

If you find yourself bound today by something in this world, shake the shackles off and embrace God’s truth…then keep repeating it to yourself, because this world will only try to convince you otherwise every single day.

go

Go. It is such a tiny little word. Only two letters…yet the use of it is far reaching.

Go get me something.

Go be something.

Go away.

Go…as in constant motion and never stopping. As are most of our American lives.

But what if we slowed down? What if we counted breaths? What if we stopped the go-go-go mentality that tears as the fabric of real community and solid relationships?

What if we slowed down enough during this advent season to not just exist during Christmas, but to live and be alive as God’s people during Christmas?

What if we were nice when we tend to be mean?

What if our words were kind and thoughtful instead of hurtful and insulting?

What if we ran our arguments through a clean filter…and stopped arguing?

What if we spend less and give more?

What if we stop to appreciate beautiful moments instead of glorifying and exalting the ugly ones?

What if we honored the birth of Jesus with our actions?

What if we reflected what the Kingdom of God should look like on earth instead of making it look unappealing?

What if in going…we lived sent?

20131202-004220.jpg

Big responsibility? It should be, because we’ve been given the gift of grace and unconditional love. We’ve been given the gift of Jesus.

We have been given the gift of being a sent people into a hurting world to work at correcting the wrongs we have the ability to fight against.

Go? Slow down. Appreciate. Love. Live sent. Let’s not over complicate things…just be who God created you to be.

This advent I am jumping back onto the Rethink Church train, and I will be blogging a word a day while also posting a photo to my Instagram. I hope you join me, because I have a feeling we could all use some Jesus this Christmas.