Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
A Hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing;
For Innocents your praises bring;
Of whom in tears was earth bereaved,
Whom heaven with songs of joy received;
Whose Angels see the Father's face
World without end, and hymn His grace;
And, while they praise their glorious King,
A hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing.
A voice from Ramah was there sent,
A voice of weeping and lament,
While Rachel mourned her children sore,
Whom for the tyrant's sword she bore.
After brief taste of earthly woe
Eternal triumph now they know;
For whom, by cruel torments rent,
A voice from Ramah was there sent.
And every tear is wiped away
By your dear Father's hands for aye:
Death hath no power to hurt you more;
Your own is life's eternal shore.
And all who, good seed bearing, weep,
In everlasting joy shall reap,
What time they shine in heavenly day,
And every tear is wiped away.
Translated by Joan Mason Neale, 1818-1866
Drawing by Agostino Carracci, Italian, Madonna and Child, c.1580
Saturday, December 20, 2008
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
~John Jacob Niles
Perhaps the greatest loss we experience as we move from childhood into adult is losing our sense of wonder. Children are full of wonder. As children, our lives are naturally alert to the surprises, pleasures and beauty of life pulsating all around us. Children are quick to take delight in little things, like shiny stones along a river bank or the winter thrill of snowflakes.
Every year, our family returns to Olympic National Park in the summer for a week of hiking in the backcountry, usually journeying fifty miles on foot. That single week has done more to nourish my soul with a profound sense of wonder than any other week of the year. A few years ago, as we came off the trail, I picked up a copy of the Olympic National Park newspaper, “The Bugler”. There I found a quote from Socrates the Wise, who claimed, “The beginning of wisdom is wonder.” Months after returning from the high-country of the Olympics, I’ve feasted richly upon the sounds and sights of that week of wonder.
Wonder most often comes as a surprise. We wander into it unknowing. We gaze and gaze attempting to take in the sight of glory. Our words fall short; yet, our hearts well up with an inner sense of wonder. Thus, wonder is a twice blessed gift, giving delight in our first encounter with such fullness; and once again as we look with that inward eye, as Wordsworth wrote, ‘which is the bliss of solitude’. As we take time to reflect upon the vision of wonder, our hearts fill once again with pleasure and we discover ourselves dancing ‘with the daffodils’.
Besides summer hikes in the Olympics, the other time of the year that seem as charged with a sense of wonder is the month of December, during the season of Advent. As we celebrate the coming of Christ, our home begins to fill with those delights which come out only once a year. We cut snowflakes to put up on every window. We bring a fresh cut fir tree inside the home, decorating it with traditional ornaments, including Danish flags in honor of my wife’s cultural heritage. The air is filled with smells and sounds of the season, including spiced wine, Christmas cookies. Bedrooms become places full of delightful wonders, hiding gifts that will be wrapped and placed under the tree.
During Christmas, we expect the unexpected. We become children once again. We take time to wonder. In our return to childhood, we share together the delight of wonder. We look up into the clear December sky and think of that
When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow's stall
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all
But high from God's heaven, a star's light did fall
And the promise of ages it then did recall.
On Christmas eve, we gather together, joined by a common sense of wonder at God’s generosity. We sing carols celebrating the coming of God into our darkened world to save ‘poor on’ry people, like you and like I’. We are all in need of saving grace. Instead of gratitude and wonder, we rush through our lives, taking little time to fall on our knees and hear the angels singing. We surround ourselves with layers upon layers of technology insulating our senses from the glory of creation, buffering our lives from being surprised by wonder. We’ve given up our innocence, trading in our childhood wonder for an office cubicle crammed with machines and worry.
How can we return? How can we find our way back to that five year old age of innocence where we might once again take delight in rain drops falling on our faces? Every year, I take a few teenage kids around our village, home to home, on a dark night in December to sing carols to widows. This event has helped recall for me the way back into wonder. We can travel together to that place of wonder. The way is illuminated by poetry and song. Sing together those lovely Christmas carols, even in July as you wander through a natural cathedral of ancient trees and allow your heart to wonder as you wander out under the sky.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In the beginning was the Word,
And the Word was with God,
And the Word was God,
He was with God in the beginning,
In the beginning was the Word.
In your beginning is the Word,
And the Word is with God,
And the Word is God,
He is with God in your beginning,
In your beginning is the Word.
The Word became flesh,
And made his dwelling among us,
We’ve seen the glory of the Son,
Shining in the night,
Full of grace and truth.
The Word becomes flesh in you,
And makes his dwelling with you,
We see the glory of the Son,
Shining in your life,
As you live in grace and truth.
From the fullness of his grace,
We all have received,
Grace upon grace,
Grace upon grace upon grace.
From the fullness of his grace,
Your life of love will receive,
Grace upon grace,
Grace upon grace upon grace,
The grace of our Lord be with you.
(from John 1:1-2,14, 16)
--by David Robinson, December 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
one night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like the frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
~Rowan Williams, Archbishop of