I MEMORIZE LUCI SHAW’S POEMS OF THE INCARNATION
BECAUSE THEY FEED MY SOUL EACH ADVENT
WHEN MY SOUL IS HUNGRY FOR MORE
AND SAPPY CHRISTMAS MOVIES
(NOT THAT I DO NOT ENJOY ALL OF THE ABOVE!)
BUT I WANT MORE
SO MUCH MORE
LAST YEAR I MEMORIZED “MADE FLESH”
TURNING OVER PHRASES THAT MADE ME WORSHIP
THE GOD WHO WAS MADE FLESH
THE GOD WHO WAS WILLING TO BE
“INFINITY WALLED IN A WOMB”
If you are not familiar with Luci Shaw, you are in for a grand adventure. She is my favorite contemporary poet, a woman of great talent, wisdom, and integrity. I can hardly believe how merciful God was to me to let Luci be the woman who opened the door to the writing world for me, mentoring me, publishing my first work. If you love poetry (I know some of you are learning to do so!) then you must get Luci’s book on “Poems of the Incarnation.” When Luci was about four or five years old, her dad recorded her first poem, recognizing her genius. This pre-kindergartener said:
I see a loon
standing against the moon
and it reminds me of
the judgment of God
God gave her a talent, and she has not buried it. She is also a woman of enormous integrity, which I have experienced firsthand. She has been my mentor, and I wrote so much about her in The Friendships of Women that I embarrassed her. I want you to meet her — and here is a clip of Luci talking about her book, “The Crime of Living Cautiously.” It begins with her doing a stunt I cannot imagine doing at my age — which is about how old she was when this was filmed. Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL2PExlczrU Please listen too to the challenge she brings about how risks in obeying God can bring us closer to Him. Ponder what this means for you this week. You will see this philosophy again in the 2nd part of Luci’s poem.
Along with Luci’s poem, “Made Flesh” we will listen to my favorite Christmas sermon from Tim Keller, also inspired by the prologue of John. I promise you, this will feed your soul. There’s not a lot of homework, because I know it’s a crazy busy week, but your soul needs it, and it will help you slow down and sense His light in the darkness, His love in the loneliness, and His strength in the exhaustion of all there is to do.
SUNDAY/MONDAY: ICE-BREAKER AND DOWNLOAD KELLER’S MESSAGE: http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/word-made-flesh
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. Luci, in her video, challenges us to take risks based on our talents, based on God’s leading — how might you live less cautiously this Advent week — how might you love outrageously, how might you trust Him boldly?
Monday-Tuesday: Read John 1:1-5 and Meditate on Luci Shaw’s Poem: Made Flesh, Part I.
the white-hot beam of annunciation
fused heaven with dark earth,
his searing, sharply focused light
went out for a while,
eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
his cool immensity of splendor,
his universal grace,
small-folded in a warm, dim
the Word stern-sentenced to be
nine months’ dumb—
infinity walled in a womb,
until the next enormity—
the Mighty One, after submission
to a woman’s pains,
helpless on a barn’s bare floor,
first-tasting bitter earth.
2. What phrases about Jesus stand out to you and why? (Go slowly – this is fine dining.)
Wednesday: Read Part II. of Luci Shaw’s Made Flesh.
I in him surrender
to the crush and cry of birth.
was closeted in time,
he is my open door to forever.
From his imprisonment
my freedoms grow,
find wings. Part of this body,
I transcend this flesh.
From his sweet silence my mouth sings.
Out of his dark I glow.
My life, as his,
slips through death’s mesh,
joins hands with heaven,
speaks with stars.
“Made flesh,” in Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation
3. What phrases stand out to you from the above and why?
4. List one example from this Advent or this year that the phrase you chose is being made real in your life.
Thursday-Friday Listen to Keller’s sermon and answer:
5. First Point: The Word
A. Keller gives the illustration that you can’t really say you “know” someone until you have spoken to him. Can you give an example?
B. Concerning the above, what have you learned about dialoguing with God?
C. Keller says Philosophy 101 says you can’t prove anything is true. Therefore, we cannot present a watertight case for Christianity, but we do have a watertight Person. List three ways that Jesus has shown His love by coming down and experiencing the pain we have experienced.
6. Second Point: Became Flesh
A. Keller relates the story of the woman who cried out from the street for help because she was being stabbed. Lights came on, but no one came down. In what ways did Jesus make Himself vulnerable by coming down?
B. By taking on human flesh and experiencing our pain, He became our “Wonderful Counselor.” Explain why this is so and one way He has been a wonderful counselor to you.
7. Third point: Dwelt among us
A. Keller said that the incarnation was “the end of religion as we know it.” Explain what he meant.
B. Write a prayer of praise to The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.
8. What’s your take-a-way and why?
Next week is our final Advent week, then New Year’s Day, and in early January we will launch a new and exciting adventure, and I hope you will join us and invite friends too! I’m 90% sure what it will be, but would love your prayers for wisdom.