Reflection on Advent 2009

In his book, The Magnificent Defeat, Frederick Buechner uses his brilliant imagination to describe what it might have been like for the innkeeper, the shepherds, and the wise men as they interacted with Jesus on the night He was born. The conclusion of the “wise man” musing goes like this:

“I will tell you two terrible things. What we saw on the face of the newborn child was his death. A fool could have seen it as well. It sat on his head like a crown or a bat, this death that he would die. And we saw, as sure as the earth beneath our feet, that to stay with him would be to share that death, and that is why we left – giving only our gifts, withholding the rest.

“And now, brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him is the only life?” (p. 70)

Let that last line penetrate and sit in your soul. Don’t let it leave so quickly. What are the things that I need to let die? What ambitions? desires? protective strategies? What needs to die so that true desire and life can emerge?

How haunted I am by the image of bringing God my gifts but withholding myself from him. Earlier in his book, Buechner penned these words:

“Power, success, and happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough; but peace, love, joy, are only from God. And God is the enemy whom Jacob fought there by the river, of course, and whom in one way or another we all of us fight – God, the beloved enemy. Our enemy, because, before giving us everything, he demands of us everything; before giving us life, he demands our lives – our selves, our wills, our treasure.”

God – the beloved enemy … who invaded earth in the form of a baby … how stealth/how genius/how risky … and yet, he came to fight me in order to love me.


~ by Ted Wueste on December 19, 2009.

One Response to “Reflection on Advent 2009”

  1. Holy wow.

    Glad you posted this.

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