Sunday, December 24, 2017

We could be all flame

From a reflection in Give Us This Day, Christmas 2016.

A light is kindled in the darkness.  A word is spoken. The cold air crackles, the stones stir underfoot, a fire hisses out its breath, coals creaking like wind-racked pines. A woman labors to give birth. 

And so God arrives among us, shivering in the cold, howling with hunger, begging with each breath to be fed and clothed and sheltered.  A voice crying out, aglimmer with a Gospel demanding to be proclaimed.

Gloria, we exclaim, and hunt in vain for angels in the sky. But Isaiah hinted at the shape of the light we seek: Share your food with the hungry, shelter the poor, clothe those in need, then your light will blaze forth like the dawn. 

Three decades later, ablaze on a sun-bright hillside outside Jerusalem, is he remembering that night?  I was hungry and you fed me, a stranger and you made me welcome.”  When, we asked, the wailing child and spent mother long forgotten.  Whenever you did this for the least among you.”  And we saw his glory.

Can we stop hunting for the cherubim and seraphim long enough to listen to the unending and all-sustaining Word, crying out in need, or for the Light pleading for light, for warmth, for food and shelter? If you wish, said one of the desert mystics, you could be all flame.  If we wish, we could be Isaiah’s blazing dawn.

The Word came to dwell among us, that we might be a word spoken, a voice for those in need, a light to the nations.  Children of God, all flame.


1 comment:

  1. Nice. My favorite Christmas song, lyrics by Howard Thurman, music by Dan Forrester: