Monthly Archives: December 2017

When He was ready…

Christ came not when we were ready, but when he was.

This has been a difficult year for us. It has been a particularly difficult year for my husband who lost his father just at the end of September after long, strenuous health issues. He has shouldered a good bit of stress at work, and we have been stretched to our parenting limits this year. Can you relate? Christmas may have come this year with us feeling weary and unprepared. There is, somehow, good news in this.

The grace of the embodiment of God on earth is partially wrapped in the fact that we were still a mess upon his arrival. We were far from ready. We had forgotten to be expectant, and had instead grown hurried, harried, and lacking in purpose. Christmas arrived before all the cookies were baked and frosted, it arrived before packages were wrapped and bows tied. We were caught in the middle of some major mishaps. Our lives were ugly and twisted. We had forgotten to hope.

The shepherds were leaning on their staffs, cleaning the excrement from their sandals when the heavens were ripped open and angels burst in chorus above their heads. And even Anna, (Luke 2:36-38) who was waiting in the house of the Lord, may have risen from a despondent corner of the temple, doubting anything hopeful would ever happen to her again.

We were distracted and agitated and frazzled. But then, before Mary had time to prepare a nursery, he was born. Before we tied up the loose ends, and resolved the mess our lives had become, he came. While we were embarrassed, stressed, anxious, and lonely, he arrived, donning tendons and truth. Or we were proud, arrogant, and crass, yet he wouldn’t wait for us to clean our lives up. He would not. We couldn’t.

As his infantile arms flailed erratically, he waved them about and cried, “Behold, I am new! Look, I will live next door. I make everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

As he breathed on Mary’s cheek, so he had once breathed in us the breath of life. As his divinity seemed to take on a weaker nature, he poured into us his spirit of hope (Romans 5:5).

He came when he was ready, not when I was.

As I vacuum the house in preparation for Christmas guests, I feel the frustration of an imperfect house. It will not all get done. Let’s face it, with three boys, and trying to squeeze in time for a math lesson, is the house ever clean? There will most assuredly be dusty surfaces and blankets piled in a corner. It is an imperfect house full of imperfect people. If I am not ready with the house cleaning, how much more unprepared am I with my spiritual life? My soul needs dusting and there are certainly things I need to purge from my character. If I can welcome family into an imperfect home, then I can welcome this Savior into my imperfect world. He is here! Joy to the world!

His uncoordinated knees knock together as he now kicks, but his movements proclaim, “Come to me. My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30). And Mary, not having prepared perfectly for his arrival, picks up her burden, snuggles him deeply, and discovers, it is indeed light.

Merry Christmas.

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Are you ready?

A frequent greeting which falls from our lips this time of year is “Are you ready for Christmas?” And by this we mean, have you finished your Christmas shopping, do you have the meals shopped for and planned out, do you know where all the relatives will sleep, or how you will get to both sides of the family on Christmas Eve. We might rethink our intentions with this inquiry.

Are you ready?

Are you eagerly awaiting what has been long promised you? Are you resting in exuberant hopefulness? Is the Advent of the Son foremost in your thoughts? Are you ready to celebrate his once-upon-a-time birth and his most assured return?

May we be open to receiving the divine in our life. May we be open to recognizing the blessings and the light, just as the wise men recognized the bright, auspicious star. May we make room for him as we make room for the others before us who need a place to stay, a warm meal, or a sympathetic ear. Are we ready to welcome him as we welcome others in our lives? As we wait this advent, may we grow into a reflection of the holy Infant’s abiding love.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Luke 1:45

Homeschooling with Homer

With no real plan in place, other than the fact that we had reached Greek civilization and the Trojan War in history, S and I have been slowly reading Homer’s Iliad. It is my very first time, and as has happened so many other times over these last several years, I find I learn at least just as much alongside him.

We found this fantastic version for children and young adults retold by Alfred J. Church. Originally published in 1907, it retains the epic style without being cumbersome to a modern middle schooler.

Here is an example, which must be read aloud for the full effect.

But Poseidon came to the camp of the Greeks…First he spoke to either Ajax, saying, “Hold fast, men of might, that you may save the people. For the rest of the wall I fear not, but only for the place that Hector rages. Now may some god inspire you to stand fast and drive him back.” And as he spoke he struck each with his staff, and filled them with courage and gave strength to hands and feet. Then he passed from them even as a hawk that rises from a cliff, chasing a bird.

Chapter 16, p. 156

In the course of our readings together, we have learned mundane facts such as Ilium is the Greek name for Troy. Thus, the Iliad is ” the ballad of Ilium,” or the song about Troy. We have shared our disappointment in Achilles’ whining. We have laughed at Ajax’s grandiose and lengthy speeches in the heat of battle, while wielding both a battle axe and sword. “Just finish them off!” S jokes. “Focus, Ajax! Focus!”

We prided ourselves on our independent discovery of the epic simile. Although considering their preposterous length and preciseness, it is hard to overlook them. When a figure of speech extends six or seven lines into a paragraph it is impossible to be blind to it. Here is our favorite example.

As when two torrents swollen with the rains of winter join their waters in a hollow ravine at the meeting of the glens, and the shepherds hear the crash far off among the hills, even so, with a mighty noise and great confusion, did the two armies meet.

Chapter 6, p. 46

S and I have discussed and debated Greek virtues, and we have contrasted them with what is lauded today. We have questioned why (spoiler alert) Patroclus’ death was so grievous to Achilles, and whether or not that was more a reflection on the one rather than the other. We discussed the nature of the gods, and their limited powers against man. Overall, this has been a worthwhile read for us. I feel we have both received a solid introduction into the blind bard who purportedly founded Western literature. The Odyssey awaits.