Friday, December 02, 2005

With devastating humility

God descends in frightening silence

Kierkegaard discovered the necessity of silence to the entrance of God. It is a lesson of transformation, repeated in every heart that learns His ways.

In silence the Incarnate Word tumbled out of heaven into our world. It is in silence that the Eternal Word is born again in our hearts.

We keep Advent best in silence…in great humility before the Word. In bowing now before the Word who once bowed so low, we find, miraculously, that we are born again for our world.

J.B. Phillips links this silence with ‘fright,’ since there is something in humans that flees the silence where God is encountered. He also links it with a kind of ‘devastating humility,’ such humility that destroys our pride and old ways of life: barriers to His presence. Thus is the Advent of God!

By far the most significant event in the whole course of human history will be celebrated, with or without understanding, at the end of this season, Advent. What we are in fact celebrating is the awe-inspiring humility of God, and no amount of familiarity with the trappings of Christmas should ever blind us to it. God’s intervening into human history came about with an almost frightening quietness and self-effacement, and as millions will testify, He will come once again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any heart ready to receive Him.

Are you ready to receive this Word on His own terms this Advent?

Or, with the rest of modern humans, will you try to manage Him, reducing Him to platitudes of comfort and family -- surely nothing related to inner silence and ‘devastating humility!’

Behind all our fun and games at Christmastime, we should not try to escape a sense of awe, almost a sense of fright, at what God has done. We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.

We shall be celebrating no beautiful myth, no lovely piece of traditional folklore, but a solemn fact. God has been here once historically, but, as millions will testify, He will come again with the same silence and the same devastating humility into any human heart ready to receive him.

Do we often think of the coming of Christ in terms of ‘fright’ and awe? Perhaps we should. The original ‘shock and awe’ campaign was the descent of the Word into our world. It shook Hell to its core, and will shake the hell in us -- in devastating humility and frightening silence -- if we let it.

The challenging Advent meditation is a call to walk away from the security of human idolatry and clamor of human wisdom into the ‘towering miracle’ of the silent Word -- the Word who still speaks and daily transforms those who receive Him for who He is.

He will come to you, mysteriously and mystically, this Advent.

Indeed, He is already at the door.

Will you open and be changed? Will you accept His humility and silence?



winston7000 said...

Loy, all of what you write is excellent, but this post is especially poignant and utterly beautiful.

It also harks back to Genesis and God's creation, especially of night and its moon and stars. Only God working alone. Not a sound that was not natural to His creation, and those sounds really contain holy silence as does also grace-filled music.

It further recalls Elijah's unexpected encounter with God as a dying ember--and where in awe, Elijah buries his face.

As for Bethlehem, where else could the Lord have chosen such a remarkable birthplace, but among the least of people--illiterate, smelly shepherds; plain, simple folks, half outcasts among their own.

Advent--the great prelude each year to a time when we can at last shut off the din of our own incessant thoughts and be one with Him in silence.

May the Lord bless you this Season with more grace to keep on writing with the utter eloquence of simplicity and faith.

John Hetman
Niles, IL

Loy Mershimer said...

Thank you, John!

You encourage me and buoy me up...your heart lifts my heart! So thank you.

And, indeed, may the same blessing be yours this Advent...

In Christ,