30 December 2008

Cradled in Arms

Last week I tried no less than 5 times to write this blog post- Cradled in Arms.

Five failed attempts to gather my thoughts for public consumption indicates to me that I have here bumped into something quite uncontainable. A red warning light is flashing "Mental Meltdown Alert" in the corner of my eye.


Cradled in Arms.
It's such a quiet, genteel image. Sweet and tender, mellow and still.

At this time of year, my own home is sprinkled with nativity scenes depicting Mary holding the Christ child in a tender embrace with Joseph, shepherds and wise men gathered around in frozen expressions of awed surprise and adoration.
None of them are sobbing. None of them are struck dead. None of them seem to adopt a pose that cries, "Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Isaiah 6:5

It shocks me that the Lord Almighty veiled his glory to such a degree that humanity could look upon him and even hold him, flesh against flesh, as we would hold any other normal human.
How could they bear to stand up? To keep their balance? Wasn't the breath sucked out of them? How were they not struck dead on the spot?!
Did their faces glow like Moses'? Didn't they blubber over themselves, even just a little? (Especially Mary and Joseph- who'd had 9 months to grapple with the concept of parenting "Yahweh in the Flesh," which seems to me to be one of those things that the more you think about it, the more freaked out you get.) Did the stable animals recognize their Creator in that tiny child? Was there a cacophany of bleating, lowing, squawking creatures worshipping their Maker?
How exactly does this happen that the Holy God of the Universe steps down into His creation and takes on the form of a human- veils His glory- to such a degree that it barely registers as a blip on the screen? To hold Himself back to the degree that only those who get a direct visitation from the heavenlies know what's going on... what might! What strength and wisdom.

Commanding presence with grace eternal. What tender love!

I can barely fathom that He allowed us to cradle him in our arms.


Cradled in Arms.
It's such a quiet, genteel image. Sweet and tender, mellow and still.

The past month I've been reviewing my world history classes in my mind. Zeus, Hunab-Ku, Odin, Ra, Yingarna, Jupiter, Bochica, Buddha and Artemis. These gods, goddesses and dieties created by centuries of our collective imaginations in order to define our existence on this planet. To explain how we got here, why it hurts so bad to be here, what we're supposed to be doing while we're here, what happens when we leave here... The human race is looking for answers.

Seriously though, the answers we've created for ourselves are dreary! None of these gods actually created us. We crawled out of their beard, or formed from a tear mixed with sunlight, or resulted from an unholy union between gods and humans. Many accounts say the instruction manual for Creation was just plain confusing so the gods passed creation duties off to the tortoise, the wolf, or the spider. Creatures being creatures, I suppose they hodge-podged things together the best they could.
Frankly, none of the gods even know how they came to be. Their pedigree is suspect.

And so, once the gods and humanity get thrown together someone has to call the shots.
For milennia, they've been shaking their heads at the mess of humanity- unable to make sense of what we're doing, powerless to make it better, dissatisfied with the results. Eternally frustrated, they spend their time tossing lightning bolts, disguising themselves as animals to carouse in towns and villages, demanding our children and our wealth as sacrifices, sowing their wild oats with dieties and humans alike. Sometimes gracing us with good weather and bountiful harvests.
Some gods sit on high mountaintops and sip the juice of the universe. They don't cause us any harm, but it's not like they're involved either. (Not that they would have a solution if hiked up there to ask them.)

They are wolf-toothed, ox-tailed, goat-headed, lion-bodied
Raven-winged, monkey-eyed, snake-haired
Cloud-clothed, rain-haired, thunder-voiced

The best humanity can make of its existence on earth is this: clay-footed gods.

It shocks me that there is another choice. Gratefully, I say that.

There is another God.
One who existed before all time who's pedigree answers to no one. A God who was perfectly content with the Triune company He kept, yet purposed Creation as an expression of that fellowship and love. He wanted to make us. He created us Himself and called His creation good. He hovered over this Creation as a mother bird nurtures her chicks. He kept us in the shadow of His wings.
This God watched when His creation chose its own path away from Him, but He never once threw His hands up in shock or disbelief. He gave us a chance to reconcile right then and there- mercy.
He had a plan and a desire to redeem Creation from the very beginning- grace.

His plan was more audacious than any diety could possibly conceive. To lay aside His glory, His might, His purity, His position- and seek out His wandering Creation.
To know us by experience.
To know us by name.
To know me by name.
To call my name. In whispers. In shouts. In heartbeats. In tears. In sunlight. In waves. In seen and unseen.

How utterly, utterly unlike any other god. Who is like Him?

Commanding presence with grace eternal. What tender love!

I can barely fathom that He came here to cradle us in His arms.

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Blogger Amy said...

Oh yes. Incredibly powerful perspective of the enormity of the Holiness that is our God, disguised as a child in order that we might stand in His presence. What a staggering post Erin - no wonder it took a while to come forth...it is masterful, insightful and brings fresh comprehension to the mystery of all time.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Kelli said...

It is so incredible to think that He would think we are worthy to create us, yet alone sacrifice Himself for us. Very powerful post.

3:46 PM  

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