Saturday, December 24, 2005

Advent: Shipwrecked at the Stable

Brennan Manning (Watch for the Light) uses the metaphor of shipwreck survivors who find the stable and worship Jesus. He says that it is these people, people who have experienced the humbling of a pain-filled life, that can appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. Let me quote from him extensively because I can't do him justice with a summary...

The shipwrecked at the stable are the poor in spirit who feel lost in the cosmos, adrift on an open sea, clinging with a life-and-death desperation to the one solitary plank. Finally they are washed ashore and make their way to the stable, stripped of the old spirit of possessiveness in regard to anything.

The shipwrecked find it not only tacky but utterly absurd to be caught up either in tinsel trees or in religious experiences ("Doesn't going to church on Christmas make you feel good!"). They are not concerned with their own emotional security or any of the trinkets of creation. They have been saved, rescued, delivered from the waters of death, set free for a new shot at life. At the stable in a blinding moment of truth, they make the stunning discovery that Jesus is the plan of salvation they have been clinging to without knowing it!

All the time they were battered by wind and rain, buffeted by raging seas, they were being held even when they didn't know who was holding them. Their exposure to spiritual, emotional and physical deprivation has weaned them from themselves and made them re-examine all they once thought important. The shipwrecked come to the stable seeking not to possess but to be possessed, wanting not peace or a religious high, but Jesus Christ.

On this Christmas Eve, I hope we can all come to the stable with this same purity of heart. It's not a purity that comes from a perfect life but a purity that comes from being solely focused on the Source of perfect Life. Might we not use Him but might we offer ourselves to be used by HIm to bring the good news of his coming to others. Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To be one of the "shipwrecked" worshipers of the God who is with us is a blessing that can be matched by nothing else we can experience here on this earth. I don't think we can know it without knowing the pain of being stripped of who it is we think we are.