Friday, December 14, 2007


So send I you — by grace made strong;
To triumph o’er hosts of hell,
O’er darkness, death and sin;
My name to bear, and in that name to conquer
So send I you, my victory to win

These were the original words penned by Margaret Clarkson, a woman whose ventures in life and spiritual efforts had brought her to a place of loneliness and isolation. Feeling broken and emptied by her answer to the Lord's call she wrote these five lines to spur her on.

Years later, however, she looked back at the words she had written and saw in them a perspective that was slanted toward her own hurt. She thought again about her loneliness and isolation and personal struggles, and rewrote the words to reflect a different perspective.

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing-
So send I you to toil for me alone.

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
O'er wand'ring souls to work, to weep, to wake,
To bear the burdens of a world aweary -
So send I you to suffer for My sake.

So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With heart ahung'ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one -
So send I you to know My love alone.

So send I you to leave your life's ambition,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you -
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, tho' it be blood, to spend and spare not -
So send I you to taste of Calvary.

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you!' After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
~John 20:19-22

Praise God for those who show us a glimpse of what it means to taste of Calvary.

P.S. He is coming.

(for Matt)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Hymns

Did you know that your sense of smell diminishes 50% every 4 minutes? This means that if you are exposed to a scent without variation in intensity or other external factors you wouldn't smell it after 8 minutes. It makes more sense now how trash men can do their jobs, doesn't it. Well, I think the same thing is true with hearing. It seems that if you hear something often enough, you no longer are able to hear what it's saying.

'Tis the season to hear 15 different versions of no more than 15 different songs. Carol of the Bells is played by the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Burger King commercials, and the choir on Home Alone so much that the listener either dreams about it in his sleep or frustratedly turns off the radio or television whenever the song is played (or both, perhaps). Starting in early November there are stations dedicated entirely to carrying the jolly tunes to the stressed out Macy's and Kroger's crowds, and by the time Christmas day finally comes people often choose to have a quiet day with no organs or handbells or synthesizers.

While I am completely comfortable with people growing weary of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" or "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas," I wonder what people think when they sing "The First Noel" at the candlelight service the night before Christmas.

"Jimmy's present never came."
"I don't remember how many cups of sugar are in that glaze."
"I wonder who cleans the wax off the carpet when we all leave."
"I'm so tired, I can't wait for tomorrow to be over."
"Is his family ever going to go home?"

These songs that we sing at Christmas are not meant to accomplish what the "other" songs accomplish. They were not written to spread cheer and merriment, the words and even the music were designed by brothers and sisters who have a deep humility at God's condescension to mankind. Men and women who were filled with awe at the magnitude of the moment while God himself left the glory of heaven and resided in a dismal dungheap wrapped in the same sort of linens that would later wrap his lifeless body at the cross.

These songs are not jolly, they are joyous - deeply joyous - and we have no less reason to sing them from the depths of our hearts and souls than did those who wrote the songs or the angels and shepherds which the songs describe.

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
As a baby, the Word of God was silent, but in those quiet moments his very act of becoming a quiet baby was pleading for reconciliation with the Father!
~What Child is This?

The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
In that one night, God really confronted all the hopes and fears that had been building up for thousands of years
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous gift is given!
He was a king, for crying out loud! Where's the pomp? where's the circumstance?
~O Little Town of Bethlehem

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Those people are still in mourning because they don't know Emmanuel HAS come to them. O, Israel!
~O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessing flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.
As far as the curse has reached (which is EVERYTHING) Christ has come to make new and to bless.
~Joy to the World

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
If only we knew how to show jubilee. Have we not met the same

~Angels We Have Heard on High

Risen with healing in His wings
Wings of healing - how desperately I need those wings to carry me and cover me.
~Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Ye, who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth:
Come and worship,
Come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King
Even as a baby, Christ was worthy of worship. Right now he sits at the right hand of the Father...where are the worshipers?
~Angels from the Realms of Glory

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!
Can you imagine what it would feel like for the world when Christ first came? When for the first time the soul felt valuable. Sin and error and longing are so exhausting, and when that NEW and GLORIOUS MORNING came, the weary world rejoiced. What a thrill that first dawning of hope must've been. Of course they fell on their knees!
~O Holy NIght

1 Tim. 3:16 says, "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: he appeared in the body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was received up in glory."

Mystery indeed.

According to Amy Grant's version of Christmas, "You don't have to be a child to love the mystery." Do you love the mystery, or has it become just another thing to turn down on the radio?

It takes only 8 minutes to lose your sense of smell. I hate to think how quickly the words we hear so often lose their meaning.