December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Christmas Day
by McKinley Cash
Up on the wings of the morning
From the mystic land of Nod!
To greet the day that's borning,
When man drew close to God.
"Love ye one another,"
We heard the Master say,
And one way or the other,
We'll answer that today.
The Lily of the Valley
And Sharon's red, red Rose
Are treasured in the tally
As the heart overflows.
Let's ope the parcels now,
And as we snip each seal,
The woundrous why and how
The content will reveal.
All thoughts are centered home
In Love's own master plan,
For on this day has come
God's greatest gift to man.
(McKinley Cash was my great uncle and this is one of the poems he left for us in his collected work Alabama Folk Tales. A copy of Uncle Cash's work will be available in the Sulligent Public Library in January 2010. I apologize for the lack of spacing, but blogger is not accepting my formatting.)

December 24, 2009

And the Word Became Flesh

It is my prayer that you and yours take a few moments to consider the magnificent truth of God taking on flesh and blood and coming to live among us. Be blessed during this season when we recall that there was a day when God spoke to us all and said, "I am with you."

December 16, 2009

Psalm 55

Cast Your Burden on the Lord

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

1 Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
2 Attend to me, and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
3 because of the noise of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 yes, I would wander far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
8 I would hurry to find a shelter
from the raging wind and tempest.”

9 Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11 ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
do not depart from its marketplace.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
within God's house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
let them go down to Sheol alive;
for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

16 But I call to God,
and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
from the battle that I wage,
for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
and do not fear God.

20 My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.

23 But you, O God, will cast them down
into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

December 3, 2009

About the Photo - The Next Big Step

If ever there was a parable in a picture this one would qualify. On a late summer afternoon a longing was fulfilled; a step was taken that had been considered for years but had simply been set aside for reasons of practicality. Maybe it was the testosterone level that was right that day. Maybe it was we knew changes were coming and this might be the last chance for us to do this thing. Maybe it was simply that the light was perfect. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I am now 42 and it had been a whole bunch of years sine I had jumped off a cliff. Or maybe it was the realization that my kids were finally old enough to make up their own minds about doing questionable/dangerous/fun/crazy/memorable things. Whatever the reason we did it.

I jumped first. The fall was exhilarating but my impact with the water was almost debilitating. I pasted a lying smile on my face and groaned out a "Come on! It's great!" My poor entry into the water was no reason to deny others the thrill of leaping from the stony security of the cliff. One after the other they took the leap with a descending "Whooo!," a glorious splash and a concluding fist pumped victoriously into the air with a shout of conquest. It was, and will be forever, a memorable day.

My friend Barry captured this photo of my eldest taking his leap. It is a photo with the potency of poetry. Not only was Jeremy leaping from rock to river, he was also making the leap from family to future. It is his next big step. He seems to be enjoying the journey much like he enjoyed that marvelous day at the river. I hear tales of leaps he's recently taken from a bridge into a river near campus! I suppose that first big step and that first big leap inevitably lead to others quite naturally.

Do I worry? Sure. What parent doesn't? (I can tell you my mother worried enough for all of us on the day the photo was taken!) But my worry is not that he'll get hurt, or that he'll do something stupid - I'm pretty certain that's going to happen along the way. No my worry is, and has always been, that he will be afraid to take the next big step.

So, for Christmas he's getting a framed copy of this perfect parable in a photo to remind him of the joy in taking the next big step. Please don't tell him. I'd like to watch his face as he remembers this unforgettable day.