From Michelle. 23 December, 2012
Dearest friends and family,
There has been much loss surrounding this Advent. The usual rush of Christmas parties were equally scattered with farewell parties. Steve helped facilitate the memorial services of two dear members of our church who passed on. A friend’s son and fellow quadriplegic died at a young age just days ago. We know many friends who are lonely or struggling. We miss our families. And of course, the tragic stories coming from Sandy Hook Elementary School have overwhelmed us all.
I keep thinking about God’s power made perfect in weakness. I imagine the fragility of that babe in the manger. I remember how, when my own children were newborns, I would lie awake at night barely breathing in order to listen for their quiet breaths. Their little souls were wrapped in a most delicate packaging, nearly blind and deaf, barely able to move, utterly reliant. Their grip on life seemed tenuous at best.
There is a kind of hushed awe that surrounds a newborn babe. Their fragility elicits tenderness. It is miraculous that they live and breathe at all. We are amazed that so large a future can be housed in such small, defenseless form. I imagine God willingly wrapping himself into such frail flesh, the God of the universe reduced to an armful of tender, piteous reliance. And yet a host of angels attended his birth, proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Here, and later in the image of the cross, the two most celebrated stories in all christianity herald glory and peace through utter weakness.
There is a window here into the holy, if only we can peak through it. The window is clouded with our breaths and yet we see vaguely something unspeakably precious through the glass. We do not understand why love comes this way, or why we are saved like this. Love so great stoops so low we cannot with our small hearts fully comprehend it.
God knows fragility. He knows helplessness. He knows suffering. And somewhere in the choice to love us this way, to freely enter into our human condition and bear every wrong, there is great strength. We can borrow from that loving strength to carry on. Just before the bible speaks of power made perfect in weakness, it speaks of grace that is enough. This is the part we can practice. This is the roadmap we can follow, coming alongside loss, no matter our own depravity and weakness. We can dispense grace liberally, extravagantly, as it was liberally and extravagantly given to us.
So this Christmas, even amidst weakness, even amidst sadness and loss, may you know love and hope, practiced in grace. And may you find his strength to carry on.
With love from all of us,