Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Wonderland

It was after dark when I carried the water basin outside to dump out the filthy water after vacuuming the floors. I was just doing my thing, glad the work was almost done, glad to get rid of this dirty-looking water. As soon as I stepped outside into the night, I took a breath in–oh! The cold, clean air smelled sweet with freshness. The moon and stars were twinkling brightly over the freshly fallen snow, and in the bluish, white light, here and there around my feet, danced brilliant sparkles upon the snow. I watched in awe as the fine prisms of snowflakes caught the light in their delicate forms and winked at me. It was magical. All this for me? I wondered aloud. Had I not been coming outside to dump the water, I would have completely missed this spectacular sight. How lucky I felt in that moment.

Have you ever gazed on your life like it’s a landscape painting and marveled at the twists and turns that somehow got you to where you are now? Have you ever stopped amidst the day’s work and questioned why all this? Or have you grimaced at the thought of completing an impossible task and then stood amazed a few days later that you accomplished it? There are endless moments that awaken in us the question, “Why?” Ever since we were three, we have been haunted by mystery and the greatest philosophers, scientists, theologians, and scholars have puzzled over the mysteries of life.

The curious part is that even if I had not gone outside that night or stopped to take in the beauty, the sparkles still would have been there, glittering like sequins in the snow. Why all this lavishness? I mean, have you ever stopped to wonder? It’s not like any of us deserve this boundless outpouring of beauty and inspiration. When Alice found herself in Lewis Carroll’s wonderland and a horde of impossible opportunities were around her, she responded as a skeptic would.

“There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

When I think about my world, I agree that’s true. When I think of the mysteries in life, I realize how many “unbelievable” things I actually believe! I think God’s humor can be found in surprising paradoxes, such as Christmas. Who would have dreamed that God, who created the universe and all of us beautiful, silly, quirky, talented, awkward human beings, would come and take on the form of one of us? Then that the God-Man would choose to be miraculously conceived in the Virgin Mary! And that our Savior came not as a military giant but as a tiny, whimpering, adorable little baby with blinking eyes and open arms. That an immortal God subjected himself to human death! That God in His earthly body endured suffering and carried our sin and infirmities on the cross. And finally, that He rose from the dead and there is victory over death! To these “impossible” statements, any reasonable people ask, “Why?”

Some of us choose to respond like Alice. We’re busy or tired and don’t want to try. Or maybe we think to believe will demand too much from us. Maybe we’ve been hurt and feel that to try to believe would be too painful, vulnerable, or scary. But the Queen says we must only practice to learn the art of belief. It’s that simple, “Just believe.” Our present and our future never held so much promise than when we first believed. That’s where the twists and turns in my life’s landscape take on meaning and I begin to see the possibilities in my life. I begin to see hope in difficult situations.

The answer to these mysteries has been planted in our deepest desires, embedded in our dreams, sounding in our heartbeats, and echoed in the fairy tales and stories of ages past, stories old and ever new…

Once upon Christmas Day, the prince of the Kingdom of Peace was moved by love to disguise himself as a simple peasant boy to go walk through his land and rescue a beautiful servant girl, who he dreamed would become his princess. When she spotted the handsome peasant boy coming, she began to sing,

“Hark, my lover - here he comes

Springing across the mountains,

Leaping across the hills!”¹

When the prince, disguised as a peasant, came to call on her, he saw that she was laden down with burdens and her beauty was disfigured. She was in need of a healer. How could she become his princess in this state? So he softly called out to her, “Come to me…you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourself. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”²

He knew this was why he had come. Because he loved her so much, he took her burdens on himself and carried the chains that had weighed her beauty down. The burdens became so heavy upon him that his appearance became unrecognizable, and the townspeople said, “There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him…oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny?”³

The burdens became so heavy that the cost was his life. He gave it willingly, handing himself over for her, “to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”!4

Three days he spent in the tomb. And on the third day, he rose from the dead, fully restored and glorious beyond all telling. With his beautiful princess at his side, he led her into his kingdom to live happily ever after. Her beauty shines so brightly now, it is fixed in the stars, and that is why the stars have never ceased captivating men. Shining as lights in dark places, they remind those on earth that their true destiny is with the King.

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Wishing you the joy of faith in the coming New Year!


¹Song of Songs 2:8 ... ²Matthew 11:28-30 ... ³Isaiah 53:2,8 ... 4 Ephesians 5:25-27

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