‘I’ll need a match.”
Levi says this looking for light, to ignite a wick and singe us with prayer.
How many flames to burn off dross and liquefy the steeled cold into the mold of Christ?
I hand Levi the matchbox.
He snaps one red match head into a singular furnace.
The ringing candles flicker over wood.
“It is like Christmas…” Levi bends over a waxed torch.
It is the same wreath.
All through Advent and the snow, we’d set the candles along The Way of Light wreath with its 24 holders. We’d journeyed with the swollen Mary on a donkey, journeyed towards Bethlehem, House of Bread, our arms waiting for the gift Who’d come to us, Him like a swaddled loaf, so warm, child come to nourish us, the starved and hardly dying.
Now this same wreath unfurls across the table, a full 40 candle holes, our own wilderness unfolding. Nightly we face Calvary, the place of the skull and God the heavens can’t contain becomes the gaunt and hollow God who dies to feed us righteousness, manna come straight down.
“It is like finishing Christmas, Levi.” Shalom has that air of certainty that only a five year old can have when rightly informing a big brother. She brushes an errant curl out of her face.
“See — because now Jesus is here, Levi.” She holds the cross high for him to see.
The Christ carries the cross, stripped and given.
And Advent completes at Lent.
When Christ completes what He came to do.
He birthed poor to a stable and He bends poor as our Savior and He who became poor for our sakes at Christmas became poured out for our sakes at Calvary.
Shalom holds that cross high and I see what He did because of Who He is: Christmas or Calvary, cradle or cross, our God King wears poverty.
Why don’t I?
Who can claim to be a Christ-follower and not make themselves poor?
We call it the “spirit of Christmas”, the spirit of giving, and we try to contain it to holly and poinsettias, when it is holy and it is more. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Easter, the Love that so loved the world, that He gave.
The Christmas spirit never stops being the Spirit of the Christian, the spirit that gives and gives away. The Spirit of Christ that compels us, more than all the world, to let go of our lives to gain eternity, to give up ambitions to store up treasure, to give away so more might come in.
Or am I the conservative who conserves — conserves my safe middle-class home, my nice middle-class lifestyle, my secure middle-class plan to raise good kids, save up a good nest egg, live a good, clean life? How is that the Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Easter, the Spirit of Christ — who spent His life to ransom many, who hung naked and destitute to clothe the soul-homeless, who laid aside all the riches of heaven to raise the poor in spirit up to heaven.
Possessions and power and position may make me poor if I don’t use them to practice the poverty of Christ — all is grace given to give away. I have no idea how to do this. How to follow the God who chose poverty? Why isn’t the wealth of His presence enough?
The Incarnation of Christ was meant for the Crucifixion of Christ and we never incarnate Christ until we abdicate self.
“You want to move the cross ahead tonight, Mama?” Shalom hands me the carved wood.
I feel the sanded edges.
The humility. No ornamentation. This crown of thorns.
The Christmas tree made the Calvary cross and this is the Love that is realest faith, the love that lays down and gives all away.
What do I know of this?
Do I follow at all?
If my Christmas is about giving away, shouldn’t my Easter be even more so, following the Christ who sacrificed everything?
“Right here, Mama. Set the cross right here. We’re following Him all the way to Calvary…”
She makes a grand swoop with her empty hand….
her empty hand lit with warming light.
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him,
“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor,
and you will have treasure in heaven;
and come, follow me.”
More ways next week to celebrate an Easter as meaningful than Christmas
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart. To read the entire series of spiritual practices
As we walk with Him this season, might we consider: The Practice of the Easter We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….
Today, if you’d like to share with community: The Practice of Letting Go … just quietly slip in the direct URL to your exact post….. If you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.