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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

The Shape of New Beginnings

 

I’ve been asking God how He wants to shape me for this new year. Not a resolution. Not a goal. But a clarifying of who I am to be, how I am to become. I’ve been listening for His response, waiting to hear.

As Advent turned to Christmas, as December moved towards January, I’ve journaled, imagined, even read some of those end-of-the-year evaluative thought-provoking questions. I’d imagined it would be a hint of what’s in store for the year ahead, my part in His story. I really wanted to know before the year changed from old to new.

Did it have to do with this good and glorious calling as a wife? A mother? A grandmother? A friend? Did it have to do with expanding my role as an author? Speaker? A Spiritual Director?  Is there something new I’m being called towards?

Seeking His shaping for me, the silence continued. Even on the last day of the year, the silence was unbroken.

Finally, on the last day before one year became the next, His shape for me became quite clear.

Emerging from the library, a lanky father held open the door for his gangly daughter. She glanced up at him. I was too far away to hear their words.

He grinned. She leaned in. He tousled her hair. She hugged him tightly as she smiled. They clearly exchanged tender, humorous words.

Again he spoke, an invitation, so it seemed, for she nodded. They took off running across the sidewalk.

Their gallop of joy, him setting the pace, her keeping up at times, then lagging behind, or playfully darting ahead, had all the antics of two schoolchildren delighting in a frivolous moment together.

Continually, the father’s eyes are upon the daughter. The majority of the time her eyes track his, boldly confident in this love relationship. They race onward, his overcoat flapping, her scarf like a kite trailing up into the sky, their cheeks rosy in the brisk mountain air.

His strides, long and sure, could easily outpace her younger, shorter ones. He sprints, challenging her to stretch forward. She rises to the challenge. The, she lags behind, distracted, discouraged, a bit undisciplined and lazy.

It doesn’t stop him. He’s still running forward full force, yet always cheering her on as he looks back over his shoulder, waving her towards him. She surges towards him. He ambles alongside her.  She drops to a walk. He stops and waits, jogging in place. She laughs then springs forward in quick pursuit, hugging him when she’s near.

A good father offers invitations. A good daughter trustingly accepts, most of the time.

So clearly, this father loved his daughter. So clearly, this daughter loved her father.

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged. He gives. She receives. She gives. He receives.

There it was: the shape of what my good heavenly Father, my Abba, wants for me in the year ahead. No resolution. No goal. No new calling. No expansion of present callings.

 

Just a clarifying:

He wants me to enjoy being His daughter. He wants me to enjoy Him being my Father.

 

He wants me to be shaped by this knowing beyond knowing that I am tenderly and tenacious:

Adored. Beloved. Cherished. Delighted over. Encouraged.

 

He invites me onward. I lean into Him.

He gazes lovingly, challenging me to go and be likewise.

 

Adored, I adore.

Beloved, I love.

Cherished, I cherish.

Delighted over, I delight.

Encouraged, I encourage.

 

So that’s the shape God wants for me:  a daughter who is ever leaning in, feeling my Father’s tender adoration, following Him into the gallop of joy, into the challenge of a little more than I think I can handle. He’s not going anywhere without me. Why would I go anywhere without Him?

I’m accepting His invitation to be shaped by this wildly vast love. He’s quite something marvelous, this Tender and Tenacious heavenly Father of mine.

 

How about you? How does God want to shape you as this year unfolds?

 

Lane Arnold

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Your O

I’m one who savors the season of Advent and Christmas. I love the quiet holiness that can accompany this season. I delight in the many hymns of Christmas. This morning, when I rolled out of bed, I was humming the tune to

O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

 

“O Come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,

And order all things far and nigh;

To us the path of knowledge show,

And teach us in her ways to go.

 

Rejoice! Rejoice!

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

 

How odd to have that hymn as the first thing on my heart as I arose. Then I remembered why. Last night I’d been reading about the O Antiphon days. This morning is their beginning.

The O Antiphons are used in liturgical worship through prayer and song from December 17 through December 23. As I understand it, the O Antiphons were the basis for the wonderful hymn I’d been humming. Each of the seven O Antiphons is a title for Jesus that leads us to focus afresh on Him. It’s an Advent tradition I’ve adopted: to ponder Jesus in light of these seven titles. Apparently, it was a tradition in times past as well, even centuries ago.  “Keep your O” became a short catch phrase to remind folks to ponder these various titles, leaning into those characteristics of Christ, as Christmas approached.

In Latin, the seven titles create an acrostic. When each beginning letter is joined from last to first, it reads “Ero Cras,” which translates  “Tomorrow I come.” This reminds us of what Advent is leading up to: The Coming of Christ.

For those among us who, like me, are not versed in Latin, the English translations are:

O Sapientia =       O Wisdom

O Adonai =            O Lord of Israel

O Radix Jesse =    O Root of Jesse

O Clavis David =  O Key of David

O Oriens =             O Dayspring

O Rex Gentium =  O King of the Gentiles

O Emmanuel =     O God with us

So I woke up this morning with O Wisdom on my mind. Lately I’ve been reading through Proverbs, noticing what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. Thinking of the O Wisdom antiphon, I turned to Isaiah 11:2-3 and Isaiah 28:29. The Spirit of Wisdom rests on Jesus; He is magnificent in wisdom. That’s a magnificent thought that leads me to worship Jesus afresh. How appealing. How settling. There are so many questions, so many confusing things, so many ups and downs in any given day. How reassuring to know that there is true wisdom which resides, originates, and comes forth from Jesus. Anything I need to know for living wisely is ever-present in the One who came, and comes, and will come again.

Wouldn’t it be grand to be one who is infused with such wisdom? I’d love for the scent of wisdom to be wafting appealingly through me. What might that look like? How might that come to be?

Wisdom is something we gather as we walk with Jesus, the Wisdom from on high. However it’s not like we gather baskets of wisdom then sit them on the shelf of our intellect and say, “There, I’ve gotten some wisdom.”

Wisdom is rather something we gather from being continually in the Presence of the Holy One, then apply it to our moments as we journey through life. It’s an integrated way of being in relationship with Christ, listening well to Him: my head and my heart woven into a wholesomeness that leans towards holiness. I watch Jesus, listen to Him, and go forth, doing and being likewise. In His Presence, I inhale wisdom.

There’s an orderliness, too, about wisdom coupled with discernment as we choose how to step into more of God. There’s a constancy about wisdom as well. It’s not something I can gain in one moment. It’s about staying close to the Wisdom from on high Himself that garners wisdom’s growth within me. Small constant steps with Christ bring me towards wisdom.

So on this first day of the O Antiphons, I’m thinking about how I’m “keeping my O”…by watching Jesus who is the O Wisdom.

 

On this first day of the O Antiphons, join me in pondering:

How are you doing on “Keeping your O?”

Where are you leaning well into Wisdom?

Where do you resist?

How might the Wisdom from on High infuse us this day?

 

 

 

Lane M. Arnold

All rights reserved.