LIKE THE MAGI WE HAVE JOURNEYED THIS YEAR
AND WE, LIKE THEM, ARE NOT THE SAME
THIS 2ND WEEK OF ADVENT WE WILL CONSIDER
TWO PIECES OF ART
FIRST, T.S. ELIOT’S THE JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
SECOND, TIM KELLER’S FREE SERMON: THE COSMIC KING
At the close of each year, I consider what books impacted me the most. One of my top four this year was Surprised By Oxford. This is Carolyn Weber’s memoir of her first year at Oxford as a young agnostic who was thunderstruck by both the intellectual Christians she met and their enormous joy. In the world of C. S. Lewis, J. R. Tolkein, and Dorothy Sayers, the stimulating conversations seized her. It’s a love story as well, for one believer she met, whom she calls TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) is particularly persuasive. One of the many things I loved about the book was all the great poetry she referenced. Her opening chapter had me laughing so hard for she completely misinterpreted one of my favorite poems, Batter My Heart Three Personed God (John Donne) thinking it was about male domination and rape. Her professor straightened her out, the beginning of her surprise. She reminded me of my freshman year at Northwestern University, when I completely mis-interpreted Yeats poem, “The Second Coming,” having not a clue that it was about Jesus. Just as blind, just as foolish. Carolyn Weber also quotes T. S. Eliot’s The Journey of the Magi, and I was so struck by the closing lines. I’ve heard them before, but this time, because this has been such a year of growth for all of us, they were fresh and new.
Here is The Journey of the Magi, which I’d like you to contemplate all week. You can listen to T. S. Eliot reading this poem by clicking here:
THE JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
T. S. ELIOT
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
1. Comment on the above
2. Listen to Eliot read The Journey of the Magi and record your initial thoughts. (It’s a deep poem, but catch what you can.)
3. Continue to reflect on The Journey of the Magi, recording more thoughts.
4. Read Revelation 1:1-8 and then zero in on verse 5 where you will find momentous truths about Jesus. Contemplate each and write down, first, what it means, and second, how it impacts you.
A. the faithful witness (What does this mean and then how does it impact you?)
B. the firstborn of the dead (What does this mean and then how does it impact you?)
C. the ruler of the kings on earth (What does this mean and then how does it impact you?)
D. has freed us from our sins by his blood (What does this mean and then how does it impact you?)
5. What else do you learn about Jesus from Revelation 1:6-8?
LISTEN TO FREE KELLER SERMON ON THE ABOVE PASSAGE. I recommend downloading it or it might stop in the middle:
6. Write your comments on the sermon
7. What did Keller say “the Alpha” meant and how should it apply to you? Is Jesus the “Alpha” in your life?
8. What did Keller say “the Omega) meant and how should it apply to you? Is Jesus the “Omega” in your life?”
9. Contemplate The Journey of the Magi again and write down any new thoughts.
I want you to put the following people “on the mat” and pray that God will open their eyes that:
Each might journey this year, as the Magi did, and behold the wonder of Christ. That they might realize who he is — the One who is the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of kings, the one who can free them by His blood. Pray that they will realize He is their Alpha, the reason they are living, and that they will make Him their Omega, their goal in life. There are eleven people here, and I’m hoping you can give a minute or two to each. Pray the above and however else you feel led for each of the following loved ones. The fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much (and we are righteous, clothed in His white garment)
Anne’s husband for a God quake
Dawn M. S.’s father, who may be dying
Dee’s sister Bonnie, who will receive the Ipod shuffle with Keller sermons Thursday of this week – that she will listen and be open — a God quake please
Meg’s mother Karen
Susan’s mother Virginia (angry at God since death of grandson)
Kim’s husband — especially that he might understand God’s grace & son Brad
Diane’s brother Philip chained in bitterness
Joyce’s brother Dennis, losing wife, perhaps becoming bitter
Laura-dancer’s daughter Sarah
Rebecca’s son Elijah that he might experience the wonder of God
Angela’s oldest daughter Kaitlyn who is at a point of struggle and crisis — she thinks intellectually, which is sometimes a hindrance
Elizabeth’s daughter and mother-in-law Edith (see end of last blog)
I hope I didn’t miss anyone who participated in the blog last week, but if I did, e-mail me and I will include you for sure this Advent.
10. What’s your take-a-way and why?