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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jesus, Son of God, Born

The bread is rising in the laundry room. It's warmer in there on top of the running dryer. The stew is simmering out the fragrance of Christmas. I added a dash of cloves, nutmeg, and a tad of molasses to the fire roasted tomatoes and a box of the chicken broth lined in rows on pantry shelf. I placed them on the soup shelf in front of the cans of Progresso Lentil Soup that no one will ever eat unless I sneak them into a homemade stew. I can't remember why I bought them.

Guitar strumming girl with the voice of an angel is not home and I'm a wee bit lonely. She's in India just touching the untouchables who haven't been touched by anyone outside the slum for longer than they can remember.

She's touching them.

I strike the match and touch small flame to wick till it takes and burns. And I think of my girl. Youngest of four. Small flame half-way around the world in a slum. Small flame touches one wick of one soul at a time with the flaming sword that proceeds from the mouth of God. Small flame lights every soul that will take the fire. And God touches those whose foreheads bear the mark of other gods. He doesn't worry about that mark; indelible tattoo touch. He cares only to touch them till soul wicks are lit and burning.

He's touching them.

The poorest of the poor. The lowest of the low. The unfit for society. The scorned and shamed. The beggars on the beach who would work but are forbidden. The filthy and lice ridden human beings who weren't considered worthy to be given a name at birth, but are called profane names all their lives.  They are the untouchables.

They live on the beach. They walk the streets. They share slum huts with several families. They had nothing, and then less than nothing, because a cyclone roared from the sea as hungry lion seeking whom it may devour, and ripping claws into shelters and crushing huts between strong jaws and shredding thatch with razor teeth, then spits thatch out with snarl,  swishes it's mouth with whatever drinking water it finds and spews it unpotable.

They were given buckets. One bucket per family. One bucket to use for everything. One bucket to provide necessity after a cyclone and I read the article from "A fishing boat that was damaged during a cyclone in Visakhapatnam, India...."

I view the photo. The fishing boat isn't damaged. It's destroyed. And with it the livelihood of the fisherman, the food for his family, and did his home survive? If not, then he and his family will join the poorest on the beach.

"Jesus, the wind and the waves obey Your voice. Buckets empty of faith get filled at wells with belief." I don't mean to accuse, but, "So, why?" does hint a tad accusatory. It does. "So why a cyclone here? Why here?" The people are days thirsty, the animals are roaming angry with hunger; the stench is sewage, death, fear, grief.

I think of another fishing boat. It wasn't destroyed, just nearly swamped by storm and terror. Men who lived on the sea, accustomed to mighty storms, now terrified of wind and waves. Was it a cyclone that raged to devour them? Maybe, but Jesus was in the boat. Yeah, He was sleeping and they had to wake Him up, but He was in the boat and He stilled the wind, smoothed the waves, and then asked the men, "Where is your faith?"

 And I think of another bucket, in the hands of another untouchable. A Samaritan woman shunned and shamed who went to the well alone. Jesus met her there, thirsting for her faith and ready to quench her unbelief. "Woman, believe Me," He said. then filled her bucket with hope and her soul with salvation.

The Performance

Visakhpatnam, India. It's where my fair-skinned, light-colored hair, hazel-green eyed girl is with one-hundred and fifty Indian children who danced in three Christmas performances on the beach attended by hundreds who need buckets of hope. They came.

Did some come with their family bucket to guard it from thievery? Did they return to where they sleep with the bucket full of hope? I know all present were given the gospel message for salvation, and each attending family member and performing child was given an orange. Mother S. was there days after the cyclone, gave out oranges and buckets and Mr. S. shored off a fight over an orange before it began.

My mind arranges words and thoughts, May slaves of sin salivate over salvation, and may they fight for the fruit of the Spirit.

"I am ruler of heaven and earth. King of all nations," says God because He is. I don't know how I've missed the obvious, but He is Ruler of heaven and earth. King of all nations. Of people.

I look at the photos in front of me. A barefoot man with nothing but the clothes on his back and a bicycle he guides through a flooded jungle of tortured tree limbs and twisted wires. A young boy wears only a shirt and climbs half naked atop the thatch of a collapsed hut amid trash, articles of clothing, and jagged metal. A woman sleeps exhausted on a propped slab of wood where her home is just flattened and the roof is scattered splinter about her. Hundreds of human beings line up in rows on the ground to eat a bowl of rice; and hundreds more sleep on makeshift shelter floors. And the mobs. There is evil in God's kingdom. There is. It's obvious. I'd like to make excuses for Him, but I can't do it because He is unapologetic. I can't defend the King who takes up no offense against what is the way He ordered it to be.

"Lord. Ruler. King! Why?" I can't get myself to ask the entire obvious , "Why is there evil in Your kingdom?" question. It hurts. And I don't think the answer will be satisfying till I see it from a fully redeemed perspective.

There is trouble.

He is King.

There is rampant vandalism on every level in the streets, homes, governments, people wind, water, sky, dry ground.

He is King.

King of earth.

King of all nations.

And how do I, really what right do I have, to question this sovereignty? I understand only by what I know of Him, and trust about Him, and observe as the way things are. And haven't they been this way for longer than earth has been in existence?

Wasn't there a most beautiful angel in heaven who would wage war against God to take His throne? Wasn't he cast out of heaven to slither on the ground? There was, and he was, and he's still slithering. He traded his beauty for ashes; his wings for a sheath of scales. And somehow in mysterious wisdom and way, the King's kingdom is being perfected and the slither is part of the sovereign plan.

I was born unlovely, in sin, into pride. But the Son of God, the Prince of Peace Son of the King of Righteousness was born to love the unlovely, save the sinner, humble the prideful and turn my ashes to beauty. It's true. He did.

"Where is your faith?"He's asks me in the rough and tumble. "Woman, believe Me," He yearns the command.

"But look at Your kingdom! Look at the pain!" I hold the photos out to Him.

"It's labor," He says. It's His perspective.

Isn't the Father's perspective always redemptive? Always all about birth and life? Can I adjust my perspective to see the pain of the nations, the people, and see every reason to hope for life? It'll take practice to see it all like this. It'll take looking at the Son and hoping because of Him.

Look at the pain, and hurt; look at the Son, and hope. I think this to myself and will be repeating it as I practice. To the Father I amaze with breath contracted tight, "You use the one whom You cast to the ground. You heard him thump hard and saw the dust gasp. Labor began.

Jesus was born of Mary. Son of God from womb of flesh. He would be baptised by John the Baptist in the river, but in a stable He was washed with a cloth no cleaner than the clothes Joseph and Mary wore, I imagine. Did Joseph present Him in victory upon palm, "Hosanna!" because he couldn't say, "This is my Son," but could say the one word that is both "Alleluia!" shout of praise and "Save, please!" cry to God for help? Hosanna means all this.

Could it be when someone, anyone from anywhere slum or suburb, manger or mansion is born again by the Spirit, and baptized because every new born needs to be washed, that the Father presents "This is now My son! My daughter!"?  It must be so, because these words give name.

"Father, The untouchables." I plead now for those I've not given a thought about before. I pray for our nation's homeless. Have served them as so many have. But the untouchables? The lower than the lowest class in India? "Oh, Father."

Woman Sleeping in Ruins

He touches them.

He touched them on the beach when my American daughter danced with one hundred and fifty Indian children in a Christmas performance. He touched them when mother S. gave the gospel message, and when oranges were placed in their hands.

Jesus, Son of God, born to touch the soul beneath the filth, lice, fleas, wounds, and the skin on bone.

Jesus, Son of God, born to save the lost.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give a name to the nameless.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give a birth date to those who don't know when they were born.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give employment to the unemployed.

 Jesus, Son of God, born to make a home in the homeless.

Jesus, Son of God, born to wash away sin with His blood as blood is washed away when a child is born.

And the Father tilts His head back, laughs joy in delight, "This is My daughter! This is My son! These are My children!"

The stable didn't smell of homemade bread, but of the Bread of Life. It wasn't bright with red and gold lights, but with the Light of the World. There was no tree with gifts on it, but there would be.

Jesus, Son of God, given.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

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