Poem – Palms

Palms waving,
we welcome Jesus.
We are the crowd,
it is a huge celebration.
The town is abuzz with the news.

We are chanting, all of us
“Blessed is he
who comes
in the name of the Lord!”
This man, this Jesus,
is the prophet
who was foretold,
the one who saves us
from ourselves.

“Hosanna” we shout,
clearing the path,
removing rocks.
Some are cutting down branches
from the roadside,
laying them on the path,
to make the way smooth.
Some are even
putting down their cloaks,
their only cloaks,
getting them dusty.
That dust will stay for days.

Days later, those shouts
turn to jeers.
Days later,
this same crowd
no longer wants to celebrate
but crucify.
Days later,
the tide has turned,
our Messiah
now the one
we mock.

Days later,
the one who grants us
eternal life
is himself
dying

because of us.

We called for his death,
and he died for us.

He died in our place,
paid our bill.
He died to let us
get off the hook,
get out of jail free,
get free,
get going,
get on with the business of life.

He died because of us.
Because of our condemnation,
and because of his love.

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Thoughts about The Nativity story.

There are a few issues with the story of the Nativity that happens in Matthew and then follows in Luke. Let us look at the original to start off with. This is the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation.

Matthew 1:18-25
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel,
which is translated “God is with us.”
24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Notice anything that didn’t synch up? The name isn’t the same.

Here’s the footnote to Matthew 1:21 from HCSB – “Jesus is the Gk form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which equals “The LORD saves” or “Yahweh saves.””

This makes the angel’s comment in line 21 “…because He will save His people from their sins” make sense. His name is his job description.

But then the prophecy by Isaiah says that they will name him Immanuel, which is translated as “God is with us.”

Which one is it? Jesus (Joshua, Yeshua), meaning “the Lord saves” (The Lord being Yahweh), or is it Immanuel, meaning “God is with us”?

Maybe it is a little of both. God saves us by being with us. God lets us know that we aren’t alone. God isn’t “up there”. God cares so much about us that God came down here to be among us and save us from our fear and loneliness. Our God is a hands-on kind of God. Our God isn’t like a CEO or upper management. Our God knows what we are being asked to do, because our God has done it with us. Our God knows how hard life is here in these bodies with their faults and limitations. Our God knows because our God has lived it with us.

Now, this is a poetic interpretation. It sounds good, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Is the prophecy fulfilled or not? He wasn’t named Immanuel, and he wasn’t named with the same meaning.

Then there is another problem. Are they married or not? The story continues in Luke 2:1-7. This too is from the HCSB translation.

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole empire should be registered. 2 This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town.
4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, 5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.”

Note line 5. She was engaged to him. Not his wife. In Matthew 1:24, he married her after the angel talked to him. She hadn’t given birth yet. The story of the birth happens only in Luke, and there she is listed as being engaged, not married.

It is important to read carefully and question everything. If things don’t match up, ask why.

Poem – wildflowers

The first wildflowers
of the year
are timid
and hesitant,
like violets.

Violets are known
as shrinking violets,
remember?

They are unsure
if it is safe
to come out
yet.

They are the first to show up
at the party
but the party
hasn’t quite started
yet.

It is dangerous to come out
so soon.
The freeze might happen.
But in many ways
they are safer
because
the lawnmowers
haven’t come out yet
either.

After they
pave the way
then the other flowers
can come.

The birth

At that time Caesar Augustus sent out a decree that a census should be taken of the whole empire. This was at the time when Quirinius was the governor of Syria. Everyone was required to go to his family’s ancestral hometown for the census.

Because Joseph was descended from King David, he had to travel from his home in Nazareth in Galilee, to Bethlehem, the city of David in Judea. He took his fiancée Mary with him.

It came time for her to give birth while they were there. She gave birth to her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and placed him in a manger, because there was no place for them to stay at the inn.

LK 2:1-7

The Nativity

Here is the story concerning the birth of Jesus. His mother Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, but while she was still a virgin it became known that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Because her fiancé Joseph was an honorable and righteous man, he decided to break their engagement off privately rather than publicly disgracing her.

But after he had decided what he was going to do, an angel appeared to him in a dream saying “Joseph, son of David, don’t be concerned about taking Mary as your wife, because the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you shall name him Jesus (meaning “Yahweh saves”) because he will free people from their sins.”

All of this fulfilled the prophecy spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold the virgin will become pregnant and gave birth to a son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.” (Which means “God is with us.”)

After Joseph woke up, he did as the angel had told him. He took Mary as his wife, but did not know her intimately until she gave birth. And Joseph named him Jesus.

MT 1:18-25

The Lord’s prayer

Jesus was praying, and when he was through, one of his disciples said to him “Lord, teach us how to pray, just like John taught his disciples.”

He said “You should pray like this:

Heavenly Father, we give honor to your holy name.

May your kingdom come soon.

May your will be done here on earth just like it is done in heaven.

Give us our bread for tomorrow,
and forgive our faults in the same way that we forgive the faults of others.

Do not cause us to be tempted, but instead rescue us from evil.

The kingdom and power and glory are all yours eternally. Amen.”

MT 6:9-13, LK 11:1-4

“Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive everyone who has harmed you or done wrong to you, but if you don’t forgive them, your Father will not forgive you for everything that you’ve done wrong.

MT 6:14-15

Meditative watercolors/words

I created the watercolor art in this piece as a morning test. I’m learning how to use watercolors and I need to see how they work.

The spaces lend themselves to words. I’m going on another silent retreat, and since it is just a day retreat I wanted to prepare for it to get the most out of it. I don’t want to spend half the time feeling like I’ve just landed – I want to walk right in and make the shift.

I’ve been reading some of the handouts from the last retreats and really felt that this quote resonated with me right now, so I included it in the art. I like how the words are scattered – it adds to the quote.

how thin

This is another watercolor test, and when I looked closer I could see a lot that was suggested in it. I accented certain areas with gel pens – white and blue. This is my favorite so far.

geode map lightning