Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Be Thou My Vision

The 8th century was a long time ago. I mean a SERIOUSLY long time ago. But there was this guy named Dallan Forgaill who wrote a song that doesn't get much airplay anymore. It should. Read it for yourself. (The capital's are Dallan's. The parenthasis are mine. He out wrote me using much less words than I did.)

BE THOU MY VISION, OH LORD OF MY HEART (God ... would you please be my eyes today? I have so much sin in me that the way I see things is skewed. Let me see life, the world, myself, and people the way you do.)

'NAUGHT BE ALL ELSE TO ME, SAVE THAT THOU ART, (Please do not let anything else in me matter compared to you! Not my wants and desires, not my opinions and thoughts. Nothing.)

THOU MY BEST THOUGHT, BY DAY OR BY NIGHT, (God, nothing enters my mind that is worth anything at all compared with my moments of meditation upon You.)

WAKING OR SLEEPING, THY PRESENCE MY LIGHT. (It matters not what my condition. If I am awake You are my light. If I am asleep You are my light. It is all You, oh God!)

BE THOU MY WISDOM, AND THOU MY TRUE WORD; (My best ideas are foolishness next to your most simple idea's, Father. Every word You speak is greater than my greatest utterance.)

I EVER WITH THEE AND THOU WITH ME, LORD. (What can seperate us? Nothing. Nothing! Because You, oh Lord, will not let it!)

THOU MY GREAT FATHER, I THY TRUE SON; (Our relationship is real. It is deep. It is everlasting. You are my Father. I am Your son. Legally. Eternally. Really.)

THOU IN ME DWELLING, AND I WITH THEE ONE. (When I feel empty You are still inside of me. My feelings mean nothing. It is all about fact. And the fact is that You are in me. We are so closely intertwined that we are one!)

BE THOU MY BATTLE SHIELD, SWORD FOR THE FIGHT; (When evil attacks, Father, You alone shield me. And I can counter attack because You are my Sword in this spiritual battle.)

BE THOU MY DIGNITY, THOU MY DELIGHT; (I have no dignity on my own. You give me worth and integrity. And that makes me delight in You all the more!)

THOU MY SOUL'S SHELTER, THOU MY HIGH TOWER; (In You do I hide, my God. You shelter me from life's storms. I need not worry about anything sneaking up on my or anybody bigger than I am picking on me because You are the biggest, tallest tower around. I can trust You!)

RAISE THOU ME HEAVENWARD, O POWER OF MY POWER. (I get spunky and feel powerful sometimes. But when I wise up I realize that You are the power that powers my power! Pick me up, Abba! Hold me in Your arms! Lift me high toward heaven!)

RICHES I HEED NOT, NOR MAN'S EMPTY PRAISE, (Money has come to mean nothing to me. Stuff is simply ... stuff. I pay no attention to them. The same is true of the words men speak of me when they are being kind. I pay no attention to it. I live to hear Your voice, oh Abba.)

THOU MINE INHERITANCE, NOW AND ALWAYS, (You give me all that is Yours. You love me. I am never broke. I am never hopeless or helpless. My Father is always rich.)

THOU AND THOU ONLY, FIRST IN MY HEART, (You have no competition with me, oh God. You have won my heart. The fight is over. The contest has been decided. I forsake all others for You alone.)

HIGH KING OF HEAVEN, MY TREASURE THOU ART. (You are the pearl of great price. You are the treasure above all treasures. No diamond, no gold, no check or money order, no power-ball victory can come close to being Your's and having You!)

HIGH KING OF HEAVEN, MY VICTORY WON, (It's over! I marched under the banner of my King and I ... WE ... won! The dragon has been slain. Yes, his tail still swishes sometimes but he's down for the count. The victory is won!)

MY I REACH HEAVEN'S JOYS, O BRIGHT HEAVEN'S SUN! (I may have won and I may reign with You on high but right now my body and my soul are right here on earth. It's still muddy and foggy and polluted. It is still dangerous. Please, Abba, bring me home! Let me enter Your presence soon!)

HEART OF MY OWN HEART, WHATEVER BEFALL, (My heart beats to the rhythm of Yours. Your heart defines my heart. No matter what! Forever! You, oh God, are the very heart of me!)

STILL BE MY VISION, O RULER OF ALL. (The enemies darts still come blazing at me, Father. I walk with You and the victory is assured. But battles still rage. The enemy has not conceded. And so even if his fiery darts should pierce my heart, oh great God, keep my vision on You. For You are ruler of all that is!)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Santa is in the house

Is there a Santa Claus? Of course there is. This picture is proof.

I thought Santa was a "he." Turns out he is a "she." I thought Santa comes down your chimney. No, she comes through your front door in her car seat/baby seat combo. I believed Santa brought presents. Wrong again. Santa IS the present.

You have to admit that Christmas is a pretty cool holiday. It is the day somebody selected for us to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Kudo's to them. That, of course, is the best part. We give and get presents. Some we need, some we want, and some ... we neither need or want. (That is why the stores are open on the 26th.) We cook and eat awesome amounts of quality foods. We build fires in fire places and sit as families and maybe actually even talk. There is usually a football game on tv. Hey, it's all good.

And then Santa shows up. And she comes on Christmas afternoon rather than very, very early on Christmas morning. And she smiles at you in a way that rearranges all of your plans, desires, and opinions. Suddenly it is very important to you that the world be a safe place for a long time to come. And there is nothing you would not do for Santa. NOTHING.

So, you see, there is a Santa. We got that fact right. We just got the details wrong. And you know what is really cool? Of all the people Santa knows ... I am her favorite. Sweet....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Questions for Christmas ... late night wonderings

As the seconds continue to slip away I cannot help but think about the majesty of the events of the day we call "Christmas." It all seems so unlikely. Nearly impossible. Certainly unthinkable. And yet I am convinced they are true. God sent His Son, in the form of a common man, to this fallen planet to purchase us back from the penalty of our sin. Born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died as a common criminal, resurrected to new life on the third day. The story line is better than any Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or the greatest block buster movies of all time.

God. Putting on skin. For us. Amazing. And it makes me think and ask ...

What did Joseph really ... I mean REALLY ... believe about Mary's pregnancy in the deepest parts of his heart?
When Mary said "Let it be to me according to your word" did she "get it?" Did she have a clue what she was getting herself in to??
When Mary was giving birth was the declaration of the angel on her mind or was she just too busy screaming to think about it?
What did it feel like to breast feed and then burp God?
Did Joseph worry about getting into trouble with God? He was, after all, a surrogate father.
What went through the minds of Mary and Joseph when they thought they had lost Jesus coming home from Jerusalem? ("Oh, man. How in the world and I going to explain this to God? I lost His Kid!")
Did God (Jesus) ever ... throw up? ... stump His toe? ... get constipated or get diarrhea? ... ummm, pass gas a little too loudly? ... get mad enough at us to consider quitting the whole "saving us from our sins" thing? ... want to just slap the living day lights out of a pharisee? ... get embarassed by accidently saying something that could be taken the wrong way? ... hate any particular food that, by the way, He had originally created? ... wonder if we were worth it?

There are a lot of other things I ask when it is late, the house is quiet and only my laptop "Tess" and I are awake. But I think you get my point. It was truly a BIG DEAL for God to come to earth. I just spend two days traveling to and from the Chicago suburbs. Nine of us went to worship at Willow Creek as we had obtained free tickets to their Christmas presentation. It was amazing. And it has made me think ... why? Why would a God who could have anything He wanted decide He wanted us ... me? Why would He go to the trouble? The pain? The misery? I am just not worth it. But He thinks I am. We are. His economy must be so different from ours.

But it is really true. People matter to God. Every single one of them. Every single one of us. I have never looked into the eyes of someone Jesus does not love and die to give an opportunity to be adopted into His family. I believe in predestination. I have tried to get away from it but the only way to get it out of the bible is with scissors. I believe in the God given free will of man. I like the idea of being in charge of my own life until things get a bit hairy and then I want to believe that God is in control. And I do make my own decisions. The bible tells me to make good ones therefore I must be free to make them. And yet God is soveriegn. How does that work? How does that paradox find its way into reality and fact on this hard and demanding planet? I seem to believe that two things that just do not add up in my brain do add up in God's. So I will believe Him and trust Him for it.

Christmas. CHRIST-mas. The day we celebrate the coming of the Christ Child. I am so glad that it is true. I wish I understood it better. I wish I had more answers to my questions. I wish I could make the paradox of it all less paradoxical. I am a pastor. I am supposed to understand these things. But I am currently churchless so I can be honest without worrying about the deacon's or elders nailing me for it. Here is my honest answer ....

I haven't a clue.