Advent/Christmas Posts

I’ve had the sort of year that has not lent itself to blogging. But as we approach Christmas, let me offer you a selection of Christmas-related blog posts from the past:

And may you and yours truly enjoy the Christ Child this Christmas,


In on It

I’ve been musing through a collection of Advent poems by my favourite poet, Luci Shaw, entitled Accompanied by Angels(Take up and read Luci’s poems anytime, but especially at Advent, the time of year that seems to have promoted the most fecundity in her.)

In “Advent Visitation,” Luci speaks of trees bowing under a breeze: “obeisant,/the way angels are said to bow, covering their faces with/their wings, not solemn, as we suppose, but/possessed of a sudden, surreptitious hilarity.”

Peter tells us that angels have “longed to look” into the Mystery of Salvation (I Peter 1:12). How excited they must have been at the impending advent of the Lord. How difficult, therefore, it must have been for Gabriel in particular to keep a straight face at the gravity of the annunciations to Zechariah and Mary while being buoyed by an almost irresistible impulse to fly up into the sky and fill it with light and sound: “Glory to God! This is The Greatest Thing That Will Ever Happen! And it is happening now!

May I, endowed with much smaller capacity, still be filled today with that joy of expectancy, that thrill of knowing—for sure!—that Christmas is coming


“But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?”

If life has been disappointing, disillusioning, and worse—shocking, grievous, doomed—then what we crave is the predictable, the quotidian, and the safe.

The ordinary becomes precious, and we will struggle and fight for the status quo against any promise/threat of significant alteration.

The prophet Malachi, in the wildly extreme way of all Old Testament prophets, promises the coming of God in a way that produces both shivers of joyful anticipation and shudders of grave apprehension. For we are all, as Luther said, simul justus et peccator, targets—except for Christ!—of God’s purifying wrath even as we long for God to make right what we see is wrong…whether in ourselves or in the world.

When Yhwh comes, because things have become what they are, he must slice through, and crack open, and haul down, and heave up, and disturb and displace and dismay.

The gift of the accompanying angelic encouragement—literally, “heartening”—to “fear not” thus comes as a Chestertonian joke. Really? “Fear not,” in the midst of all this uproar?

Yes, God’s voices repeat. For Immanuel, “God-with-us,” is with us in love, as well as in justice. God cares for you just as God is taking care of all things.

I believe, Sir: please help my unbelief.