Sunday, December 24, 2017

From the Star to the Cross

Matthew 2:1-2
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

the Star shines
Brightly, Brilliantly,
Guiding, Inspiring,
Beckoning me to follow.

"Star of Wonder,
Star of night
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, 
Still proceeding
Guide us to 
Thy Perfect Light."

The Magi followed that star 
to meet the Christ child,
the King of the Jews.
This year I too am following the star
longing to see the One
who is the fulfillment of God's promise,
the One who embodies God's
Joy, and

As I look again,
Lord, I wonder,
"Is it a star at all?
or is it an Empty Cross?"
Radiant, Triumphant,
Glowing with Easter Life,
Resurrection Hope.
The Cross of Christ
that One who gives God's
and Love.

Maybe it is both.
Maybe that is part of its beauty,
part of its mystery.
The double image,
the ambiguity,
the Both/And.

In the Star of the Christ Child,
we see shinning
the Victorious Cross of the Risen Christ.
I wonder...
"Do you see what I see?"

This stained glass window shines above the chancel 
at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC. 
During my first year as pastor, 
I have often wondered, 
"Is that a cross or a star?"

Friday, December 22, 2017

Advent Gifts

Lord Jesus,
at this time of year
I'm often thinking about
shopping and buying Christmas gifts.
But this year I am pondering Advent gifts.
Not gifts to buy,
but gifts to receive.

The four Sundays of Advent
follow a pattern:
Joy, and

Year after year
we light Advent Candles,
sharing words,
say prayers,
hear stories from scripture,
that reveal these four themes.

But this year
I noticed these four --
Joy, and
-- are gifts you gift to us
by the Power of the Holy Spirit
in and through the Christ of Christmas.
He is our Hope.
He is the Price of Peace.
He is the Source and Cause of our Joy!
He is Your self-giving Love embodied.

I do wonder what's wrapped
in the packages under the Christmas Tree...
But this year
help me unwrap the gifts of Advent.
Help me unwrap Hope,
not only for myself but for the world.
Help me open up Peace
in my life and in the lives of those around me.
Help me unbox Joy
the unabashed Joy of knowing you
and sharing your Joy with others.
Help me enjoy Love
your unconditional never failing love for me
and for the WHOLE world.

Lord Jesus,
these are the gifts I want most this year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christ, A Rose

Isaiah 35:1-2  King James Version
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.
Song of Solomon 2:1
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
Lord Jesus,
You are called by many names.
During Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas,
I hear you called, "The Rose of Sharon."
A flower of hope from the Prophet Isaiah,
A bloom in the barren dessert wasteland.
A flower of beauty from the Song of Solomon,
A bloom to adorn the groom for his bride.

this year on a particularly cold December day
in the garden outside my office
I saw a white rose blooming.

When I saw it,
I thought of you,
and I began to sing,

"Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung.
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night."

Lord Jesus,
Rose of Sharon,
Thank you for coming
when the night was far gone.
Thank you for coming
into our lives when the darkness seemed 
unbreakable, unbearable.
You bloomed
and broke the chill
with beauty --
such beauty
that inspires
wonder and hope.

"This Flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load."


The hymn referenced above is linked here: "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"