Christmas: Being Present to Glory

In Advent, Christmas, Consumption, Culture, Formation, Pastoral Ministry, Purpose and Meaning, Soul-Care, Spiritual Formation by Bizgainey2 Comments

The lyrics of the sacred song fly through celestial air.  Like a volleyball in a winner-take-all championship match, they are launched to and fro.

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. they go.

These are no lightweight lyrics.

No, these lyrics are stout – laden with a density befitting the Divine!

Christmas: Being Present to Song Being Sung Just Beneath the Noise of Your Life

If you tilt your head upward and press your ear toward the sky, you may even be able to hear them yourself.

Listen, they cry out in praise.  They call out in worship.

They proclaim the holiness of the heavens and the glory of God in our midst.

Chanting:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

As these lyrics sail through the high, heavenly hall, they carry with them a thickness, a fierceness – filled with gravitas and grandeur.

It’s the weight of respect, worship, and awe.

Tilt your head a bit more toward the sky.  Angle your eye so that you might see what’s not readily apparent, as you seek to see what’s most real, consider this – those uttering the words, those weighty, awe-inspiring words, are not mere beings.

No, those speaking the words are angels – angels unlike any we see in modern novels or media.

Christmas: Being Present to the Angelic Host of Heaven’s Hope

These are not the cute, chubby, and cuddly angels we often see.  No, these angels inspire – they are indeed spectacular beings – volleying lyrics of immensity and grandeur in a manner intended to make those who hear, pause and ask “Of whom do you speak?”

Again, the volley:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

Beautiful!

These seraphim, seated above God Himself, speak of God and proclaim life-changing truth: God is indeed holy, and the whole earth is full of this holiness! 

Christmas: Being Present to That Which is Most Real

Isaiah, tilting his head upward with his ear pressed toward the sky, heard the angelic hosts proclaiming the glory of the Lord.

Isaiah’s response?

“Woe is me, I am lost, I am undone – I am a man of unclean lips.”

Isaiah’s response is the most appropriate response one could have when faced with the glory of God. A moment like this can bring on to their knees.  Moments like this cause one to confess frailty, insecurity, sin, and shame.  A confession that’s always made in the presence of such goodness, holiness, righteousness, and glory.

Clive Staples Lewis referred to this practice of seeing God in all things as “The Weight of Glory.”

Lewis suggests that when one hears and sees the Glory of God in our midst, we open ourselves to the glory of God all around us – everywhere at any moment!  Even suggesting that an orientation toward heavenly glory is the only way to see heaven’s glory in one another.  His thoughts shine in this potent phrase:

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” 

Today, we don’t refer to the glory of God at all!

Even our holiday’s, once reserved to celebrate the great glory of this God-With-Us-King have become thin, hollowed out.

As such, we do not recognize the glory of God that is present all around us.

Christmas: Being Present to the Glory that is All Around You

The Scriptures are clear on this point: all of creation testifies to His glory.

The stark and sad irony of this is that the pinnacle of creation – humankind – fails to see this glory at every turn.

Perhaps that’s why we exhibit so little love toward the stranger, neighbor, friend, family member, and loved ones!

While we are short-sighted and stone-deaf to the glory of God in our midst, we certainly have no problem glorying in ourselves!

One might call us self-glorifying professionals!

We take immense glory in our achievements.

We take glory in our possessions and pride ourselves in our reputation.

Self-Elevation: Too Much Bread, Too Little Butter

It is the elevation of self-glory that robs God’s glory of its thickness and replaces it with a frail, meager comparison of what it once was.

Today, one might argue, that glory has become weightless and thin.  Somewhat like Bilbo’s “butter scraped over too much bread.”

It looks like something that once had promise, but has become something that constantly leaves one wanting.

This brings me to our current expression of Christmas.

How does this fit at Christmas?

Christmas: Can We Regain What We Lost?

Simple – Christmas has lost her glory.

Christmas itself may be responsible for replacing the beauty of the glorious Christ-narrative with a secondary glory of far less worth and weightiness.

Christmas is now that time in our life when we hone the art of spreading ourselves too thin as we buy presents and throw parties for people who already have all they need.

The Christmas season (which seems to begin around July 5th) is little more than a story of a jolly old white dude who spreads cheer by bringing toys.

Huh?

Yes, toys.

Legend In Place of Lord

When a large, legendary white male, dressed in wool, winter pajamas, who sneaks into our homes in the middle of the night (no matter how “jolly” he may be) replaces the true gift giver . . .

When elves replace wise men . . .

When reindeer replace the heavenly hosts . . .

Then we have – unquestionably – lost the awe-inspiring sense of glory this season once offered.

Maybe we have actually replaced the glory the season once beheld with a thin version – glory that is weight-free.

I know, I know. You are thinking to yourself, come on all those traditions point to the true reason for the season.

I get that.

In fact, we celebrate Christmas in our home and enjoy its trappings.

But that which points to the reason for the season is the Reason himself?

That which points us to the reason for the season are the seraphim and their divine volley:

“Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

Perhaps it is time to pause during this festive time of year and tilt your head upward as you press your ear to the sky.  As you do, listen for and long to see the glory of God-With-Us that lives within us and among us!

Examen for the Season and the Hope of Glory Restored

Ask some a question of yourself as you navigate the Advent season:

“Have I replaced the glory of God’s treasure with the trinkets, toys, and trivialities of the world?”

If so, the remedy is simple: tilt your head upward and press your ear toward the heavens!

Hear and respond to His glory.  A glory that is exclaimed on the night of our Savior’s birth!

On that frightful night, the sky lit up and the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest.”

Now, that is the choir I want to hear!

That is what glory is and should always be – that is a word of weight.

“Can you hear, can you see, can you feel the Glory of God-With-Us?”

Disrupting to Renew!

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Comments

  1. Terrific thoughts to make sure that this Christmas has the majesty and awe it merits. Thanks for the inspiration, Biz.

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