Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent Reflection #27

If you are wondering what happened to #26, I realized that I have two number 13s, so this straightens out my list.  I have no idea if anyone is reading these posts, but they serve as drafts for me for future writing, if nothing else.  I am shouting into cyberspace.

This morning I finished Wendell Berry's Hannah Coulter, a elegiac memoir, and will quote one of its sweet passages.  This is from a chapter in which the voice of the main character, Hannah Coulter, is speaking about her husband's experience in Okinawa in World War II, something he never spoke to her about and which she had to research in books after he died.

"To read of that battle when you love a man who was in it, that is hard going.  I read in wonder, believing and sickened.  I read weeping.  Because I didn't know exactly what had happened to Nathan, it all seemed to have happened to him.

You can't give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering.  You can't give yourself to love for a soldier without giving yourself to his suffering in war.  It is this body of our suffering that Christ was born into, to suffer it Himself and to fill it with light, so that beyond the suffering we can imagine Easter morning and the peace of God on little earthly homelands such as Port William and farming villages of Okinawa."

Berry is not writing about Christmas or advent here, but I found this an appropriate passage for today.  It is a cliche of evangelicals to say we should see the cross in the manger; I would say we need to see Christ's full humanity, conception to resurrection, in the manger.  He was born in blood, like us all, and he died a bloody death.  I don't like to get caught up in the word "blood" like some evangelicals do as much as the truth of his suffering and death, which identifies him with us so that we can identify with him in his death. 

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