I was contracted to write a small Advent prayer booklet at the beginning of this year. I’ve done a good measure of devotional writing over the years, and rarely expect to hear from those reading the words I’ve penned. My job is to behold Jesus, then share using imperfect, broken words what I’ve witnessed. I pray those reading my words get a glimpse of what I’ve seen without too much Michelle getting in the way.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, I brought copies of the booklet to share with the women who attend same the Tuesday morning Bible study I do. I was honored to receive the following email from one of the women from the group, Gracie Englund. Gracie has been using the booklet, and she saw something far more profound and beautiful than I could have imagined as she prayed through the words. With her permission, I’m sharing what she saw. Maybe her words will help you ponder the mystery of the Incarnation in the earth-anchored ordinary of your days.
I’ve been wanting to write to you the last few days – I wanted to tell you about my reading Saturday, the 2nd week of your Advent devotional. You said ‘…the Creator becoming part of Your own creation’. In the next sentence, you said ‘…allow a sense of awe to fill our silent spaces in our soul’. And so I did. In my simple brain*, it became quite profound. I sat quietly after I did the reading. As I sipped my tea, I looked at all the food items on the counter, waiting for me to start baking for Christmas. And I thought of the Creator becoming part of His creation.
What if I, as a cook, decided to become a stick of butter (don’t laugh here, these were serious ponderings – seriously!) so that I could identify with the other ingredients, becoming part of my baking products. I could see what happened to the other ingredients and they, too, could understand me. How absurd, I thought!
Then I thought about the sewing projects I was working on for Christmas. What if I, as a seamstress, decided to become a spool of thread so that I could become part of the table runner I was making. I could see what it was like to be spun around as I was being woven into the project, and I would understand the plight and contribution of the other materials. And they, in turn, would know me. Again, how absurd!
So I came to the conclusion that God’s plan to dwell among us in the person of Jesus was quite absurd. How He came, who He used, who He first told of the birth, and who He would save as a result. It was extremely absurd! And since then, I have been drawn to praise God for being the God who is Absurd. Absurd enough to love, humble Himself, be vulnerable and give His Son as a sacrifice for all.
I heard in Gracie’s words an improvised chorus to this hymn sung by some of Jesus’ first followers:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6-11)
Thank God for the perfect absurdity of his love. Thank God.
* P.S. – Gracie has anything but a ‘simple brain’. She is a wise, surrendered-to-God soul.