Every time I sit down to write a new blog, I am blank. I have nothing to say--until this morning. There are two books and a year-old blog that speak to me.
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado is, of course, symbolic for each of us "crippled" by sin. There are Mary and Joseph and the new-born baby, Bringer of Peace, Leader of Battle, quietly making a peaceful tableau of parents and child, a quiet moment of love and family. Yet there is room for a crippled lamb.
So Christmas Day--every year--is a repetition, a repeat of that quiet family scene. Every year we spend huge holiday time getting ready for Christmas, celebrating Christmas, then recuperating from the excess energy. Yet it all has meaning, even the gross materialism--for the materialism is yet another form of "crippledness"--our "crippled" desire to give to others. It's crippled because it is extreme, yet that extreme is still part of our desire to give of ourselves, monetarily, financially, making it a burden. It is part of that crevice in our psyches that corrupts our values. It's our sin repository.
A year ago I commented--in a digression--about our Free Will and God's demand for submission and obedience. How can we have both? Here's that paragraph from "Our Savior is born," December 24, 2009:
"Christ was born. Jesus lived and was crucified. He accepted his role. It seems an escape clause when we say we are not meant to understand the ways of God, to simply accept by faith. Obedience is required. Humility. Submission. Questioning. I've already stepped out of the circle. Control issues bother me. The garden and the forbidden fruit--the first of the obedience tests, yet the questioning, the choice of Will over submission that occurred so early in the human story."
It's that "crippled" lamb in the manger scene again. It needs to be there, it wants to be there, yet its flawed nature makes it feel unworthy. Of course, Lucado does not actually use that thought--unworthiness--in his story, but we all know how it feels. Are we really worthy to be there? A pastor in a church I once attended said that, upon entering the gates of heaven and seeing Christ for the first time, he would fall prostrate, feeling totally unworthy to be there. No bowing on the knee as the Shepherds and Wise Men did. It's that testimony to and reliance on Faith.
And that though leads to Battle, another excellent book in DK's Eyewitness books. It is all about the history of battles, weapons, wars, leaders. And that reminds me of Christ, a leader in battle against sin and corruption. Yet, He, too, in His human form, questioned. In the garden He asks if this task (crucifixion and death) can be removed. His difference from Adam and Eve, though ignorant in intention, is that He did not act. He accepted obedience.
But that's the last act. Today we celebrate the first act, set into motion from the very moment of creation. The Creator gave his creations Free Will and choice, very difficult gifts, but gifts nonetheless.
Each year that we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we celebrate with gifts, on our knees, in our crippled state. We celebrate the Leader of Battle-to-be, at this moment peaceful, quiet, calm. The Prince of Peace only after we render our Wills to his kingdom. Celebrate.
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski