Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Light

On this end of the blue sphere
December is the time when
big ball of light’s angle and duration
are fading fast and furious
as if it just might fizzle out for good.

Fine time indeed to light
an additional candle each Sunday,
reminding ourselves of the in-the-flesh
arrival of the very self of God in
the gospel birth of Bethlehem babe.

As you wend your way through
another holiday season this year,
adding lights at every turn,
may you find it in your heart and mind
to keep them burning year-round.

If the neighbors and their association
keep you from doing it literally,
I hope you’ll still conspire to
keep them burning in your life.
Every month needs Christmas light!

© 2010 Todd Jenkins

Monday, December 20, 2010

Genuine Hope

Quote from the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of “Weavings”:
“To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom.” (Mark 4:11) In his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, the Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung comments that the world will ask you who you are, and if you do not have an answer the world will give you one. Jung understands that the world is impatient with mystery because mystery lies beyond the world’s control. Faced with true mystery, the world will impose answers or contrive confusion, neither of which can bear the weight of genuine hope. Children of God, on the other hand, are stewards of mystery. We dwell gently with it, not so much to search for answers as to be transformed by questions that open onto eternity. We embrace a lifelong movement from immersion in the opaque mystifications of the world to immersion in the luminous mystery of God’s reign. (Written by John S. Mogabgab, in “Editors Introduction.”)

Advent—that season of preparation for the arrival of God’s Christmas gift—is about remembering that our task is to “bear genuine hope.” We don’t have to figure out the mystery of Christmas in order to bear genuine hope. In fact, many would argue that insistence on solving the mystery is precisely what prevents many in the church from finding hope at all. We are better detectives than we are witnesses.

As witnesses, our egos and our intellects wish for us to have seen and understood more than we do. In the “court of faith” the divine defense attorney would certainly object to the conjecture and conclusions toward which we jump. It is very hard for us to say, “I can’t explain how it works, and I haven’t seen it all. All I know is that the promise has been made, the gift given, and nothing else will ever be the same.” Most of the time, we are more comfortable solving faith than we are living it.

“Genuine hope” is not built on understanding and reasonable conclusions. It comes from wide-eyed encounters with divine mystery, often-desperate confidence in future promises, and a willingness to take one step at a time into darkness, before light appears. It is neither for the faint-hearted nor the self-controlled. It lights in the palm of those whose hands dare to remain open.

P.S. The bluebird photo is from a friend, Carole Knight; a photo of "Little Missy" from last spring.

© 2010 Todd Jenkins

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music and God

Music is an essential part of most faith communities’ worship; whether it is generated by the human voice alone, a single instrument like piano or organ, or a plethoric blend of many instruments and musicians. Though form, instrumentation, and execution may be the single issue around which the most passionate worship arguments erupt, we can all generally agree that worship wouldn’t be the same without some form of music.

Music even transcends the limitations of human language’s barrier. The young shepherd, David, soothed the angry and deranged psyche of King Saul, if only for a while, with his instrumental interludes. History records more than one instance where, at Christmas, warring troops laid down their weapons and picked up their instruments in order to share their common musical bond. If the concert had continued, perhaps the conflict would have had no choice but to cease.

I've thought, more and more over the years, that music is a near-perfect metaphor for Godness, and one of the most valuable tools in expanding the human-divine conduit. Think about it. Music has a nearly-unlimited variety of combinations, including the range beyond human perception where we have to rely on our animal friends for recognition & interpretation. The vilest dis-chord can, through the ear and hands of skilled composer and musician, be resolved miraculously into breathtaking and melodious finale.

I could go on, but I suspect that trained musicians could do so more effectively, as all I really understand is that the pitch goes up & down to match the rise & fall of the differently shaded and appendaged little circles on the staff. Maybe that's another one of music's miracles - that a simpleton like me can appreciate & absorb so much from it despite my complete ignorance of its intricacies.

Play on! Sing on! God on!

© 2010 Todd Jenkins