Advent, Living in This World

Break Forth

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel’s warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

~Johann Rist, 1641 (translated by John Troutbeck, 1885)

I don't look at Site Meter with the same eager obsessiveness I did once upon a time, but I'm glad I took a look at it today, because it appears I have a reader in Wasilla, Alaska. I wonder if I would have noticed it four months ago, before the arrival of Sarah Palin on the national political scene? I might have said, "Hmm, Alaska." But Wasilla brings with it all sorts of associations now, not just the Palin family, but the Daily Show's visit there and stories in all sorts of media outlets.

Wasilla reader, if you see this, please picture me waving at you! If you're a blogger, I hope you'll leave a comment.

I've been blogging regularly for almost five years, and it's given me a sense of more places in this country and the world as I read other bloggers' stories of their churches, the schools their kids attend, the places they drink coffee or buy groceries. The world feels wider, yet more intimate. As I continue to rest and attempt to recover before Christmas Eve, I wander around to see how my far-flung friends are coping with the holiday onslaught. We blog and Facebook and Twitter and keep tabs on one another.

It's hard to explain why I feel connected to particular people on my list of blog feeds, but I do. I wonder how things are going with that difficult colleague, or that strained relationship or that dissertation. I wonder if the job search will lead to a wonderful new "call" or position. I wonder how much smaller my world would feel without them.

I have one eye on MSNBC, and you don't have to watch much news to conclude that we live in a screwed-up world. But I believe, I do believe, that things are slowly getting better, despite our intense human resistance to change. This phenomenon of drawing closer makes the world more open, and I have to believe it makes the world a more likely place for goodness to break through and transform us.

At my house growing up, one of the nativity sets had a Jesus much like this one, ready for the cross, complete with one foot on the other. I never knew the reason for the pose until I grew up; really, I didn't know it until a few years ago. It's one of those images we may never hear explained. It's a pose of vulnerability. I always thought of the baby's arms being stretched out to his mother, when I was a little girl.

I want to live in a world where a person so full of divinity can live, rather than die, where the open arms can be an embrace rather than a surrender, however purposeful. I want all of us to be broken open to feel the possibility of love, to see the light shining in the darkness.

13 thoughts on “Break Forth”

  1. Really? I didn’t know that about nativity scenes either. Now I’m going to have to go look at mine.
    I’m not from Alaska.

  2. Oh my, our baby Jesus is posed like that. I never knew the significance.
    I think your last paragraph is just beautiful.

  3. thanks for this songbird. there is a line in our christmas pageant (which was yesterday) that says something about jesus being born so that he can die. and it just upsets me… and you speak to that beautifully. i want that too. amen. and amen.

  4. oh this is beautiful thank you! I love our nativity because Mary is HOLDING the baby, which is I believe how it would have been and how it should be.
    wish I were from Wasilla, but I’m not.
    and hmmm, havent been to site meter in a while myself. maybe i will go over there now…
    glad you are feeling better.

  5. Hi Songbird –
    Wasilla, Alaska is probably me. I am home from college for break. I grew up here, and am amused to find my sleepy little town still getting so much novel attention.
    (PS – I started knitting that lovely purple yarn you sent me into socks just today – it’s wonderful!)

  6. I’m glad I’m not from Wasilla – the cold we have been getting is quite enough!
    A warm and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  7. I never knew that about the Baby’s pose either! I will count that as what I learned today — I always say to my students that I try to learn one new thing every day.

  8. I never knew that about the baby Jesus, either…I always thought it was that his arms were outstretched to reach us, or embrace us, or something…and maybe it’s all of those things…

  9. About the Baby Jesus’ pose. Maybe your insight is one example of why God wants us to live in Community. What one sees and experiences can be shared to His Glory with one another.

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