From the Inside Out

I have this affinity for Christmas music, perhaps due to the resonating truths married to simple melody that stirs something in me. While it’s not necessarily about Christmas, this enchanting carol, Dona Nobis Pacem, has long haunted my ears.

There are only three words, “Dona nobis pacem,” which is latin for “grant to us peace.” I encourage you to take just a moment and let this beautiful instrumental soothe your soul.

What a beautiful prayer. Grant to us peace. What a fitting holiday sentiment. And I find myself wrestling with the weight of things that don’t seem particularly peaceful. This week alone I have spent almost 20 hours in or driving to and from hospitals. My heart has been heavy for folks that are very dear to me who are in times that are not principally characterized by peace.

Continue reading From the Inside Out

O Come

This cool Christmas morning I find myself with a strange mix of gratitude and longing. I am blessed beyond description and am indeed the richest man I know in the measures that matter. I was given some very sweet and thoughtful gifts for which I am tremendously grateful.

In the midst of the gratitude there is still a longing for something that is yet to come.

This is the same sentiment that I think is so beautifully captured in the longing celebration of this song – beautifully rendered here by a group called Vineyard:

This song is rich with longing – the plea ringing, “O Come, O Come…” like the longing of a prisoner in hope of deliverance.

And yet it is a call to celebrate the reality of Emmanuel’s coming – “Rejoice! Rejoice!”

There is a beautiful simplicity in it. It captures what I am more and more convinced every day is the needful condition of our hearts. There is a gratitude-infused dissatisfaction with life the way it is – the way WE are. It is a peace in the present simultaneous with a longing for where we will be.

A grateful discontent.

This Christmas and every day going forward, may we be blessed with the grace to find this grateful discontent that relishes the joys of each moment and yet leans forward into the becoming that yet remains, It is that mingling of thankfulness for all that God has done and a hunger for what He is yet intending. It’s what makes us enjoy life here while still longing for that home to which we have never yet been. It’s the grace to recognize how far God has brought us and yet long for more of HIs grace in our becoming.

Let us rejoice because Emmanuel – GOD WITH US – has surely come to us. But let us, at the same time, long for more of His coming, His renewing of us, and His ultimate consummation of our blessed hope of an eternity in His presence.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

In The Bleak Midwinter…That Wasn’t

I’ve been looking at some songs for the Christmas season that are a little different from the traditional carols. Many of us have never the hauntingly beautiful song, “In the Bleak Midwinter.” It is simple and hopeful and just a little melancholy.

And WRONG.

At least, it would appear so.

Give it a listen and consider these elegant and simple words.

This entrancing song is observing the surroundings upon the occasion of Jesus’ birth. While we have for centuries celebrated it in December, the culture into which Jesus was born was not one of mobility. Traveling just was not done in the winter for obvious reasons. We don’t know the date that it actually took place but we celebrate it at this time. So, in the bleak midwinter wasn’t really.

Or was it?

You see, in quite another sense, the world was in a very dark time. The people of Israel, chosen by God to be His own people in the world, had been without a prophetic word from God for about four hundred years. In a very real spiritual sense, it was indeed a bleak midwinter.

Into the cold spiritual climate of rigid religion and sterile faith, God sent His Son. After four hundred years of hearing nothing from the voice of God, the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among mankind (John 1:14). In the bleak midwinter of spiritual darkness, the Light of the World came to show us the way – indeed to be the Way and the Truth and the Life without whom no one can come to God (John 1:8-13, 14:6).

There is a powerful closing stanza of this song that grips me. The words flow so smoothly simply,

What, then, can I give Him, empty as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man, I would know my part.
What, then, can I give Him?
I must give my heart.

That child was born to make a way for us to be delivered from the bleak midwinter of this cold, harsh world and to walk with Him forever in the glorious light of His presence. That’s why He came. You and I have only one thing to give Him – only one that He truly desires. He simply wants my heart. And yours.

He has had mine for about thirty-five years now. Does He have yours?

Would you consider honoring His birth with that most important gift?