You had me at Hello

Last weekend we enjoyed some yummy hamburgers at AJ Bombers and an evening experiencing Handel’s Messiah by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and chorus.  We also stayed overnight downtown, and the boys enjoyed some winter swimming.  As we were heading out to Messiah, Dave asked me if it was kind of nice “not working” during the Christmas season so I could be more relaxed.

While I have enjoyed the things we’ve been able to do that would have been difficult to do last year, I do miss l leading worship during the Christmas season.  And while I’ve enjoyed worshipping at other churches, it has also created an emptiness.  The season of Advent is a journey, and I miss my “travelling companions.”   I miss thinking about worship and how to engage people in the birth and coming of Christ.  I miss being steeped in scripture, carols, hymns, candles and messages.  This is intensified by not worshipping in the same community – or with people I know – each week.  I am not complaining or expressing regret.  It’s just how it is and how I probably knew it would be, but yet it’s realization is very fresh as I experience the nearness and realness of it.  But this is the season I am in.

Sunday, the snow hit hardest just as we were going to head out to church.  I was looking forward to worshipping at Bay View United Methodist where I did my internship, so I was rather disappointed.  I put together a little worship service based on the lectionary reading from Matthew 1:18-25.  We focused on the two names given to Christ in the passage:  Jesus (Yahweh saves) and Immanuel (God with us).  We discussed which one meant the most to us this year.  For me (and for the boys) it was Immanuel.

The Word became flesh and made his home among us.

I’m reading through John’s Gospel slowly with a friend, and it’s been SO GOOD.  Thank you, Lord!  Even though we are half way through, I’m not close to being done.  I’m going to work on a Bible study of John.  I have it all printed out, and I’ve begun some word study (and Word study).  I’m like a little kid at Christmas – I’m so excited to dig into it.  I love the imagery and depth of John’s Gospel but I may love the prologue the most.  Everything in the prologue exudes God’s mercy, patience, love, holiness and faithfulness.

God, you had me at hello.

Even though the incarnation has always been meaningful to me,  I have been in love with the incarnation this Advent season. God’s willingness to put on the confining limitations of humanity is beyond my human understanding.  I mean, really – I wouldn’t even want to go back and relive high school but God chose to live it all!  The incarnation is such a loving, grace-filled miracle.

The Word became flesh and made his home among us.

For this truth alone, God deserves our love and praise.

And this brings me to what I have been steeped the last few weeks.  I am overwhelmed by this simple statement in John 1.  It reminds me to look for Christ in everyone I meet.  It reminds me to trust in God’s redemptive work in what might seem like a chaos of nothingness or the deepest darkness.  It reminds me to rest in the home God has made in us and among us.

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Enjoy John 1:1-18 from the Common English Bible.  I love how they have portrayed the prologue as poetry, because it truly is.  I’ve added some of my own reflections as well.

In the beginning was the Word
                  and the Word was with God
                  and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
                  and without the Word
                  nothing came into being.

From nothing:  everything.

What came into being
                  through the Word was life,
                  and the life was the light for all people.

From nothing:  life.

The light shines in the darkness,
                  and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

From nothing:  light.

A man named John was sent from God.  He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light.  He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
The true light that shines on all people
                  was coming into the world.

…that was created through it.

The light was in the world,
                  and the world came into being through the light,
                                    but the world didn’t recognize the light.

…even though we were created in the image of it.

The light came to his own people,
                  and his own people didn’t welcome him.

…yet we were welcomed by it.

But those who did welcome him,
                                    those who believed in his name,
                  he authorized to become God’s children,
                                    born not from blood
                                    nor from human desire or passion,
                                    but born from God.
 The Word became flesh
                  and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
                  glory like that of a father’s only son,
                                    full of grace and truth.
John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace;
                  as the Law was given through Moses,
                  so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
                  God the only Son,
                                    who is at the Father’s side,
                                    has made God known.

Thank you, Jesus, for living among us so that we could know you.

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5 Thoughts to “You had me at Hello”

  1. […] God.” Chances are, no one in that class picked those names for God. I’ve said before the Incarnation is a key foundation in my personal faith and theology. Present and loving describe the Incarnation […]

  2. […] has become so much a secular holiday, that I started referring to Advent and Christmas as the season of Incarnation a few years ago to differentiate it from what the world […]

  3. Wendy Orthober

    Oh how I miss seeing you and hearing your sermons! You are so truly gifted and genuine. I know God is preparing your heart and your new church to receive your gifts and can’t wait to see God’s beautiful plan. Merry Christmas Michelle!

    1. Thanks Wendy. God’s blessings to you and your family this Christmas morning.

  4. Michael Burkes

    Awesome. Merry Christmas!

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