In HOPE

  In HOPE 6.39                                  back to home                        David Timms

THANKS

This will be the last "In HOPE" for the year. The next edition will be on January 18, 2007, Lord willing.

My sincere thanks to each of you who has graciously received these reflections throughout the year. It has been a delight to write for you and correspond with you.

May this Advent be a special one, blessed with the unique peace and joy that comes from Christ alone. Whatever your circumstances, may His Presence guard your hearts and minds.

I look forward to walking the journey with you again in 2007.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"When God falls silent, we too often compensate by talking more, which may be the worst thing we can do." (Barbara Brown Taylor, When God is Silent, p.117)


Taking Back Christmas (II)

Silent night, holy night.

As we sing, we imagine a sanitary, serene, nativity setting. Mary and Joseph sit happy and welcoming of any visitors. No suspicion. No protectiveness. No distrust. No signs of labor, stress, or anxiety. They know their role, and wait graciously and maturely. No unwelcome odors, disheveled hair, or dirty clothes. No tears. No crying. All is calm ... and very dignified.

And God is silent.

Oh, the angels bring celebratory news to the shepherds. And magi eventually arrive - perhaps months later - to worship the newborn King. But God's silence surprises us.

He Who spoke to Adam directly (Genesis 3.9), to Abraham personally (Genesis 12.1), and to Moses face to face (see Exodus 33.11), sends angels to Joseph and Mary and the shepherds. And He remains silent.

The most dramatic event in cosmic history to that time - the incarnation of God - elicits relative silence. Mountains fail to quake. Lightening restrains its bolts in the heavens. The ancient hope of Eve "I have given birth to a child, the Lord" (see Genesis 4.1) is finally fulfilled in Mary ... with minimal fanfare.

Perhaps the incarnation was overshadowed in the Father's mind by its implications - mortality. Was this the silence of grief? What a morbid twist on that Bethlehem celebration. Or might the reticence tell us something else?

The silence of that night came not from the animals or the newborn, but from God.

When our newborns arrive, we snap photos endlessly, pass out cigars, send out mass emails, and call every address in our cell phone. The Father sent poxies. His own Son, and we're not sure He shows up. No, He attends, but quietly.

The silence of God in Advent stands in stark contrast to the noise of our Christmases.

Our music blares constantly. Televisions and radios fill the air with sales information and gift-offers. Churches put on cantatas, musicals, extra services, more preaching, and more singing. Silence would seem sacrilegious.

God's lips were sealed. No explanations; no congratulations. And i n that silence lies the mystery.

Our "Jingle Bells" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is not celebratory but diversionary. Our incessant music and perpetual chatter shields us from Him. But we cannot hear while we speak. In the silence we encounter the mystery. It cannot be reduced to a sound-bite. It won't be defined by a dictionary entry.

He stood by silently. His Word had become flesh. It still does - from the bedrock of our silence.

In HOPE -

David

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For back issues of "In HOPE" (2005, 2006) go to http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/.

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.