Tag Archives: incarnation

What Time Is It? The Six Year Old Knows.


The final Advent reflection, sent this morning to my email list. If you’d like to subscribe and haven’t, click here. Blessings of the Season to you…

I love so-called “Freudian slips”—those mistakes in speech that often uncover an unexpected meaning or layer of humor. But I’m not sure I want to give Sigmund Freud the credit—rather, these flubs often seem the work of that holy trickster, the Spirit of God.

One of my favorites happened several years ago at a church conference. During a prayer before communion, the speaker meant to say “love is stronger than death.” Instead, whether because of a typo in the script or an error on her part, she said, “love is stranger than death.”

And I thought, Yes. That’s the heart of the Christian story, isn’t it? Love does not follow the rules as we understand them. Love has its own illogical logic, that of grace and new life. It’s truly strange, is it not, that the God who created nebulas and quarks and manatees and sequoias decided to pour into the flesh of a human being, live for a time, die without putting up a fight… and then three days later, that person’s heart starts beating again, neurons begin firing, breath pumps in and out of resurrected lungs. It makes no sense. It is strange.

And it’s here at Christmas that that strange love has its beginning—with an unmarried peasant girl, a confused fiance, a birth in a cave, and a bunch of simple shepherds, mouths gaping open at the holy surprise of the thing.

God became a human being. Amazing.
And that’s the story we participate in this Christmas.

Today James gave me another slip of the Holy Spirit. For some reason, we were talking about what time it was, and he said, It’s heaven o’clock.

Whether he meant to say seven, or eleven, or was simply making a rhyming joke by saying “heaven,” I’ll never know, because he saw my absolute delight at the phrase and repeated it again and again. That’s what time it is, in this season of Advent expectation, as the hour grows close when Christ will be born in our hearts again. It’s God’s opportune moment. It’s kairos time. It’s heaven o’clock.

I told the small crowd at our Blue Christmas service last night how perplexing it is to me, that the first day of winter would also be the day that the days start getting longer. I understand it geologically. But spiritually it seems all wrong. You’d think that (here in the northern hemisphere anyway) the coldest season of the year would also be the one with the least amount of daylight. But no—all winter long, even while many of us experience colder and colder temperatures, the light is returning, bit by little bit each day. It’s a holy disconnect, but one I find tremendously hopeful. Even when we feel discouraged or spiritually cold, even when we shiver against the darkness and pull our blankets and cloaks tight around us, the light is making its slow, relentless way back into the world.

Check your watches, folks—it’s heaven o’clock. Love makes its way toward us again. Thanks be to God for that good, strange news.

I wish you all a most Merry Christmas.


photo credit: YlvaS via photopin cc

‘Our Ugly Failure to Evolve’ — On the Mystery of the Incarnation, after Newtown

160229699212188623“On the Mystery of the Incarnation”

It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly
failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother,
the Word.

Denise Levertov (h/t Andrew Foster Connors)

Image source

Friday Link Love

Away we go:


Speed Creating — Dominic Wilcox

I included a link to this earlier in the week, but Wilcox’s stuff is so cool I just had to post it in Link Love. Whimsical! Practical! Genius!

At left is the foil bust.


Where Am I? The Middle Class Crisis of Place — Christianity Today

To exist at all, we must be somewhere. And as embodied creatures, we are implaced in specific contexts. Yet in contemporary culture, this aspect of human existence is threatened by what Bartholomew calls a “crisis of place” created by several elements of our technological society. To fully flourish as human beings—and to flourish as entire communities—Bartholomew argues, we need to recover the lost art of placemaking.

I especially like the spiritual/incarnational practices he suggests to recover a sense of Place.


How “Not Giving a ****” Can Really Help You a Lot — Improvised Life

Interesting videos with George Carlin and Louis C.K. (one of my favorite comedians) about truth-telling, authenticity and creativity. Obvious warning: both have potty mouths. If that bothers you, don’t send me letters clutching your pearls. Just don’t watch.


The Illusion of Choice — An Infographic

The statistics in infographics always needs to be taken with a grain of salt. However, the basic assertion is this: despite a dizzying number of media options today, 90% of what we read, watch or listen to is controlled by just six corporations.


And another graphic, Highways as the London Subway Map — Good Design

h/t Keith Snyder. I love maps, and this one is especially fun to look at.


I’m off to Big D on Sunday for the NEXT Church conference. I’ve been so focused on getting my workshop ready that I haven’t had a chance to get excited about seeing old friends and getting inspired for ministry. It’s going to be great! And if any of you Blue Room readers are coming, be sure and say hello.

Reverb #12: Body Integration

December 12: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

It’s a busy Sunday—we’re off to the church Christmas dinner in a little while. But here are a few quick ones that come to mind:

1. Watching the Perseid meteor shower in Montreat NC this summer. Sprawled out on a blanket with complete attentiveness.

2. Any tickling/wrestling with my kids.

3. Very deep laughs.

4. Exquisite meals. The kind of food that makes you want to eat s-l-o-w-l-y.

5. Preaching when I’m really in the groove. People compliment me on my hands.

6. The experience of getting into a regular walking practice this year. I walk every Monday-Friday morning, barring illness or extreme tiredness.

7. Singing a song I love and know well.

8. This morning with the prayer group—someone shared about a loved one with a lung condition that makes breathing difficult. I took a deep breath and felt the gratitude of that breath—and heard others breathe deeply with the same awareness.

How about you?