A Christmas Baby
On a Christmas day, 54 years ago, I was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Two nuns cleaned me up and brought me to my mom and dad in a Christmas stocking.
Ping Pong Champ
I was quite the ping pong player when I was in high school. I was really good. I held many tournaments in my garage, most of which I won. You would have been impressed with my ping pong prowess. I certainly was.
For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
- Malachi 4.1, 2
O holy Jesu; O gentle friend; O Morning Star; O mid-day Sun adorned; O brilliant flame of the righteous, and of righteousness and of everlasting life, and of eternity; O Fountain ever-new, ever-living, ever-lasting...
- Anonymous, Litany of Jesus II, Irish, 15th century
J. B. Phillips wrote a book some years ago entitled, Your God is Too Small. In this book he surveyed the various grand misconceptions of God – the doting Grandfather in the Sky, the Cosmic Cop, and so on – that people hold to in the erroneous belief that this is what God is like. It’s a book well worth reading still.
I often feel that our view of Jesus suffers from a similar lack of clarity. Celtic Christians never underestimated the glory, power, and awesome might of the resurrected, reigning, and returning Jesus. On the high carved crosses He is often represented as the Sun, or as the Bringer of Light. All the various panels on a carved cross show the centrality and supremacy of Christ. The great stories of the Bible and Church history point to Him; all the peoples of the world adore and worship Him; and all of creation arranges itself in an orderly and beautiful manner according to His rule and Word.
A Celtic carved cross is not a crucifix but a statement in celebration of the magnificence of King Jesus and His glorious power to save and renew. It is a worldview, etched in stone.
For more personal use, the individual litanies that appeared in the afterglow of the Celtic Revival still manage to capture some of the greatness of the Lord, as we see in today’s selection. Jesus is at once deeply personal – “gentle friend” – and immensely cosmic – “mid-day Sun” – as well as intensely spiritual and life-giving in these Celtic Christian representations.
Is this the Jesus we worship? Who’s your Jesus, anyway? Is He the One Who upholds the universe and all things in it by the Word of His power? Who is putting all His enemies under His feet? Who goes forth conquering and to conquer, and rules the world with a scepter of uprightness? Yet Who continues whispering on your behalf to the Father of Glory, every moment of every day?
When this Jesus is our Jesus, then we will know more of His transforming grace and power.
Psalm 2.7, 8 (Agincourt: “O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High!”)
Proclaim the message far and wide, that God has exalted the Crucified!
From heav’n He sent us His only Son, Who has for us salvation won!
Lord Jesus Christ, dear beyond loving, bless me with the pure ardor of Your glorious heart, to know Your transforming grace and power. Adapted from Oengus mac Oengobann, Féilire Oengusso
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We must not gaze only on things which can be seen.