Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Of Kings and Babes and Mud and Straw

Happy Epiphany!! We've muddled through the twelve days of Christmas here, in which we hadn't much of a break between gatherings, going ons, and my work schedule. We are finally at Epiphany, and it dawns on me that in the hubbub of the holiday I didn't prepare for one of my favorite feast days. Christmas is great, but me, I like me a good Epiphany celebration. Epiphany is just such a vivid and raw event. A king of a babe in a manger, surrounded by mud and straw and animals and stench. Visitors from distant lands making their way to Him, furtively evading the one seeking to destroy this child. What it must have been like to stand anywhere near that blessed event. What it must have been to approach that child, the King of Kings. I love the lyrics of the Newsboys' song Adoration - it is such a vivid depiction of what it might have been like. "She (Mary) sees me shivering here, she smiles and with a nod, I walk through the mud and straw to the newborn Son of God."  I think I link to this every year, but it continues to be my favorite so here it is again!

I had grand plans for Epiphany...grand, I tell you! Alas, it wasn't to be. It doesn't help that my inexplicable (minus blaming scar tissue) stomach cramps came back in style in the wee hours of the morning and have only now subsided some seven hours later, despite medicine. Wait. There it is. There is my myrrh offering to Jesus - I brought the myrrh. Happy Epiphany!

Today was the first day of a new routine for 2015 with the school days. Gia only goes twice a week, but this semester the Hubs has changed his work schedule so he can take her in the mornings and I just have to pick her up. It's going to be a long semester for him, but it surely was a treat having home a little longer in the morning. Daddy's girl most definitely liked having daddy take her to school, but that tender-hearted little gem gave me a big hug and said I could take her again one day too so I shouldn't be sad. Perhaps she should have also explained this to her brother who was more than devastated not to leave with her. Tears, so many tears. (Not so many tears that a puzzle couldn't fix it.)

Preparing for a secret mission should he choose to accept it.
We had a slow morning playing with puzzles, listening to praise and worship, and I even got a few minutes in with my new devotional. This is unheard of in these parts. Unheard! So me, I'm thinking I will like this new routine. The Hubs...well, let's all say some prayers that he is given the grace of extra peace and serenity with the new schedule which is overly busy for him as he teaches six straight periods, takes a class of his own, and teaches a night class once a week. I hope the glee of his little girl will be consolation enough...

Speaking of my new devotional, a new year has also brought a new approach to prayer (again). I've seen over the years people "choose" a word for the year. I've never been drawn to that, as I rarely will make resolutions in the new year. It is fairly plain to me that I am always a work in progress. However, this year, the Lord placed a word on my heart, and a verse on my heart that keeps popping up over and over, so I cannot escape it. I have a word for the year, and it's a glamorous one.


That's right, empty.

It struck me as odd, because I have felt empty much of the last year, but it brought frustration and failing. Empty was negative. Nothing. Bare. Barren. Less than. Incomplete. Worthless. Meaningless. Incapable. Empty. 

Yet, when this word came into my heart and continued to reverberate within it, no sadness was attached. It was as though I had been holding my breath and could finally exhale. Empty. Pure. Simple. Holy. Potential. Peace. Serenity. Humble. Home. Receptacle for grace, blessing, light, joy... Open to abundance. Ready to overflow. 

The verse that keeps repeating along with that word are the words of St. John the Baptist. 

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30 

More of Him, less of me. Empty me. Fill me. By the day, the hour, the minute. Every second of every day, a greater desire to lay myself down at the foot of the cross and let his grace and mercy fill me. Leave resentment and complaints at his feet; let gratitude fill me. Leave my worries at his feet; let dreams fill my heart. Leave my ambition and selfishness at his feet; let His will consume me. Leave my fear and the past at his feet; let His promises fill me. 

It is fitting that one of the verses for reflection today in my devotional was John 10:10. "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (I prefer the NRSV translation here versus the NIV in my devotional.) Abundant life. The words evoke images of lush fields, great joy, raucous laughter...I cannot help but smile. And Jesus is here, always here offering this abundance to us. Every day, every moment, he is waiting to fill us, but we must be empty to be filled. I must be empty to be filled. 

And thus it is decreed: 2015 is the year of empty. Less of me, more of Him, as I continue in my journey to try to love more selflessly, serve more joyfully, and live more boldly.

May all His grace and mercy and every good thing be yours in this new year!

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  1. That word is significant in my faith journey. At a particularly vulnerable time in my life God called me to go to the Holy Land and gave me a way to make it happen. In the garden of Gethsemane, over looking Jerusalem, I sat on a roof top and listen to the song, 'Empty and Beautiful' again and again and again and again. It was a moment of much hope, and much cleansing with the Father- Prayers for your year of empty :)

  2. Hi, Rakhi! Your word for the year is inspired, and it really touched me, too. Just a few weeks ago I wrote in my journal that I was holding my breath, and I felt like God was answering "Breathe."

  3. And this was like the continuation of that conversation. :)

  4. I love your thoughts on the word empty. It its true that we must empty ourselves so that we can be filled with Him. My word vexed me this year because I didn't want it at first. It definitely was not of my choosing, but now I see that it is the best word for me to reflect on this year.