Monday, January 28, 2013

Mount Moriah

My Bible study has been reading Genesis, and last week we studied chapter 22, in which God called Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Like any good father, Abraham loved his son deeply, and Isaac was also the promised son through whom God had promised Abraham an enduring legacy. That legacy would include the Messiah, which is why I refer to Isaac as the “child of hope.” However, the first two couplets could also refer to another “child of hope” whom I mention more explicitly at the end of this sonnet.

Mount Moriah
Would God demand as idols did of old
Youth’s priceless blood poured out in sacrifice?
The child of hope by heavenly voice foretold
Cut off from Earth by ceremony’s slice?
His servant flinched but faltered not in fear.
He rose beside pale light of trembling dawn
While stillness masked his sorrow’s silent tear,
Perplexed but trusting hope’s child would live on.
His trembling hand held up the awful knife.
Beneath its blade his bound beloved lay.
But then a word, a trade of life for life,
The boy was saved; grace shone in bright display,
An echo of far greater grace God gave
When His beloved Son He did not save.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Song

Echoing out of the expanse of eternity is a song.
It flows in flawless three-part harmony from one Singer’s voice, vast and vibrant.
Its chords resound with such magnificence that the universe springs into being solely for the purpose of resonating with it.
Its harmony rings out in the treble tweeting of birds, the staccato rhythm of rain, the baritone bellow of the elephant, the tender lullaby of a mother.

But humanity in its vanity chooses not to sing along.
In our insanity we demand the right to compose solos for ourselves, rather than letting our voices meld into the overpowering orchestra.
We plug our ears with distractions – toys, wealth, pleasure, fame, flattery
We bang on everything we can touch, hoping to drown out the song, striking wildly at others and ourselves.
We create a cacophony so we don’t have to listen, then loudly conclude that since we can’t hear the Song, it must be a myth manufactured to silence our voices.
Its vaulting melodies are replaced with the grinding of machinery, inane chatter, whispers of gossip, voices raised in quarreling, the crack of whips, the thumping of soldiers’ steps, the sobbing of frightened children silenced by a gunshot.

Yet the song plays on.
The Singer’s voice will not be silenced, though it may sound soft and slow, sadden by our suffering.
The chords continue, constantly calling us to stop.
To listen.
To rejoin the chorus.
The song longs to seep into our tone-deaf souls, giving us new ears, hearts and voices.
The music will not stop until all discord resolves in radiant harmony.
For the Singer is also a Composer, and He planned a flawless finale before the first note was sung.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Call to Adventure

The word “adventure” can evoke a wide variety of feelings – excitement, nostalgia, longing, fear. It ties together stories told across geography, era and culture. The word itself is enough to make children’s eyes sparkle, to inspire them to create imaginary worlds and picture themselves as the heroes. Adults don’t always react so enthusiastically, though. Maybe the monotony of everyday life has stifled the longing for adventure, or maybe years of bitter experience have taught us that anything out of the ordinary is dangerous. We may begin to think of adventures as, to paraphrase Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, “nasty, unpleasant things that make you late for breakfast.”

But I think the longing for adventure is still there, buried in our hearts. It’s why we race to see movies like The Avengers, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. In one scene in The Hobbit, Bilbo goes running after Gandalf and the dwarves exclaiming, “I’m going on an adventure!” His reaction makes sense because we share the source of Bilbo’s excitement – a longing to do something heroic.

This desire is strong and real, but even in movies, it’s not all that drives heroes. Often heroes reluctantly agree to take a stand when great evil threatens their home or loved ones.

This may seem distant from our everyday experience – we don’t often encounter mad scientists or evil wizards bent on world domination. But the world is still full of evil, and as I learned last month it does threaten the things closest to us.

Last month, the approach of Christmas stirred up fond memories and longing for my home. In my homesickness, I was tempted to think of my home as an idyllic location like the Shire where we can live safely, far from stress, danger and evil. The Newtown massacre sent me into a tailspin of mourning, in part because it made me realize that senseless, radical evil isn’t distant – it can ravage even my home state.

Evil is all around us, but we can still fight it. We must fight with all the power we have, whether great or small, in every circumstance we find ourselves in. That means saying no to the evil that would engulf our own souls, and it also means reaching out and bringing what light we can into the darkness. 

For me, that meant passing a card around the office and sending it to Sandy Hook Elementary School. It means writing posts like this that I hope will be helpful and encouraging. It means looking for opportunities to help others and make their lives a little brighter. Every time we choose to do good instead of evil, to bless instead of cursing, to love or to forgive, we strike a blow against the darkness. And by engaging in the battle against evil, we can find the adventure our hearts crave.

Light, truth and goodness will win in the end, but until then, we have an opportunity to engage in this epic battle. By taking a stand against evil, we not only help others, but we also give ourselves the opportunity to become the heroes we were meant to be.

I’d like to close with a quote from Winston Churchill, a man far more articulate than me, who faced evil far more dangerous and powerful than I do.

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.