Emmanuel

It doesn’t happen often these days, but I’m thinking. I left home last night for a few happy hours at Starbucks, thanks to a friend’s gift card. My bag was bursting with books I love because I couldn’t choose just one three. TobyMac came on the radio: “Father God, I am clay in your hands. Help me stay that way through all life’s demands…”

Clay. Dried up tough clay maybe. Like what the Play Doh looks like when Svana is done with it. Little tiny fragments everywhere, and I sweep them up and throw them away. That’s about as malleable and spiritual as I feel in God’s hands these days.

All life’s demands. Yeah. Sunrise. Sunset. Food in. Garbage out. Don’t touch that shelf. Lie still and go to sleep. Here, let me kiss it. And your lunch is packed for you.

And then I begin to wonder if I have a soul at all, because when I go to use it, it’s not working and all life’s demands speak louder than The Word. And I fall asleep.

Are my best years of communing with God behind me already? I read some old journals last night and I liked what I read. To stop and be honest here, I will acknowledge that I have grown since, I have learned faithfulness more, but I am not in touch with God like I used to be. I despair of it being ever so.

I am not going to live in that kind of despair. I am going to have it because God promised it. Emmanuel. That’s what advent is about, anyway. All these cut-out snowflakes and the processed sugar. So no, my best years are not over.

An hour of euphoric fellowship with a precious sister back home. (Euphoric because I haven’t felt it in weeks. I realize fellowship is missing in my life. I am alone.) “Peaks.” She says. When you live long enough you learn to dread ’em because you know you’re about to fall into a valley. We laugh. I wish I knew. I’m currently wondering if this is a valley or a new normal. It doesn’t matter though. The work you’re doing is faithful and of utmost importance… The snot and the poop. (No one tells you just how much of that there is, do they?)

I tell her if there was one thing – ONE THING – I could change about my life it wouldn’t be my income, as stressful as not-quite-making it is, it wouldn’t be my weight, as tight as my jeans still are, it wouldn’t be my proximity to my dearest friends, as lonely as I am. I would keep all that. It would be the presence of weekly communion. I tell her of a church in town that is home to a couple good new friends of mine. They celebrate the Lord’s Supper in their regular worship services…NEVER. Not ever. Not sure why, but it clearly isn’t a concern to them because they don’t know what they’re missing. I’m not judging them for this. That element of their theology isn’t there for them. Other things, they do have in a big way and to the shame of the rest of us.

But that theology has been there for me, and that celebration, and let me tell you, just those few moments each week of Emmanuel, Tangible and I would feel like my clay was a bit more malleable. I know, because I’ve had it.

Regardless, God is with me, and the fact of the matter is that I am clay in his hands, and it’s not even up to me. So I will carry on, understanding the root of my weakness, and doing my best to make up for it through things he has given me, since weekly Eucharisteo is not one of them for now.

Father God, I am clay in your hands,
Help me to stay that way through all life’s demands,
‘Cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
And every little thing I make up my mind to be,
Like I’m gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,
And I’m gonna be a husband who stays legit,
And I pray that I’m an artist who rises above,
The road that is wide and filled with self love,
Everything that I see draws me,
Though it’s only in You that I can truly see that its a feast for the eyes- a low blow to purpose.
And I’m a little kid at a three ring circus.

Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face;
here would I touch and handle things unseen;
here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace,
and all my weariness upon thee lean.

This is the hour of banquet and of song;
this is the heavenly table spread for me;
here let me feast, and feasting, still prolong
the hallowed hour of fellowship with thee.

Here would I feed upon the Bread of God,
here drink with thee the royal Wine of heaven;
here would I lay aside each earthly load,
here taste afresh the calm of sin forgiven.

I have no help but thine; nor do I need
another arm save thine to lean upon;
it is enough, my Lord, enough indeed;
my strength is in thy might, thy might alone.

Mine is the sin, but thine the righteousness:
mine is the guilt, but thine the cleansing
here is my robe, my refuge, and my peace;
thy Blood, thy righteousness, O Lord my God!

Feast after feast thus comes and passes by;
yet, passing, points to the glad feast above,
giving sweet foretaste of the festal joy,
the Lamb’s great bridal feast of bliss and love.

–Horatius Bonar, 1855

Not worthy, Lord, to gather up the crumbs
With trembling hand that from Thy table fall,
A weary, heavy laden sinner comes
To plead Thy promise and obey Thy call.

I am not worthy to be thought Thy child,
Nor sit the last and lowest at Thy board;
Too long a wanderer and too oft beguiled;
I only ask one reconciling word.

One word from Thee, my Lord, one smile, one look,
And I could face the cold, rough world again;
And with that treasure in my heart could brook
The wrath of devils and the scorn of men.

I hear Thy voice; Thou bidd’st me come and rest;
I come, I kneel, I clasp Thy piercèd feet;
Thou bidd’st me take my place, a welcome guest
Among Thy saints, and of Thy banquet eat.

My praise can only breathe itself in prayer,
My prayer can only lose itself in Thee;
Dwell Thou forever in my heart, and there,
Lord, let me sup with Thee; sup Thou with me.

–Edward Bickersteth, 1872

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