Monday, December 14, 2015

a map of Christmas


Star light, star bright;
First star, I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might;
Have the wish, I wish tonight. 

So many times as I grew up, I looked up at the first glimmer in the night sky and said that old poem. I wished for ponies, for dolls, for friends, for faster legs, for a better complexion, for cooler jeans, for more talent and more ability and less awkwardness. I wished for all kinds of things on those stars.

Now I have taught it to my children. I don't think stars are magical wish-granters, but I do know the tiny lights we see in the night sky remind us that we must look into the darkness so we can find the light. 

When identify our greatest need, we discover our greatest wish. 

The stars remind me that if we are ever going to know the God who came to dwell among us and within us, we must admit our cosmic loneliness. We need to know we can't save ourselves.

Once upon a time, God placed one Bright Star in the dark proclaiming a King. Born for us, to set us free, He came to draw us close and bind up all our sin and shame.

Advent is for those who seek comfort and joy in the heart of a God who hears our prayers and sends His Son. 

Every wish I have made in my life has risen over my head into the heavens above, right up to the most ancient Light of all. I bear in my soul hundreds of wishes-turned-prayers. My wishes all seem random and different, but at their core, they were prayers for love, for beauty, for acceptance, and for belonging.  

It's important to know what our hearts are wanting, and even more important to know why they cry out as loudly as they do. All those years, my lips uttered simple hopes, but my heart was really wishing for the gospel, for a way to be saved from the darkness of its own pain. 

All our wishes and hopes and dreams and prayers all lay wrapped in a manger, growing toward the day they will rise with Him. 

Christmas is family and friends gathered close around us. It is sparkly trees and iced cookies. It is presents and parties. Christmas is singing loudly for all to hear and seeing the light of joy in a child's eyes.

But just like my wishes were a trail of longing that ends in the gospel, all the happy Christmases make a map for us to find our way to the place we need most of all.

From the manger, to the cross, to the heart of the God who calls us back to His own Love, Christmas leads us home one star, one wish, one prayer at a time.

Love light, Love bright;
Greatest Love, lifted high;
I pray I may, I pray I might;
Find my way home to You tonight. 

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