Darkness, fleeing at the approach of Promise,
Star bright and resplendent,
The Sun, illuminating the Virgin’s womb,
Making of it a palace
Fit for a king, a King of Kings.
Light bright angel,
Carrying her “Fiat” heavenward,
Enfolding humility, modesty and obedience,
In the gold of innocence and virtue.
Most High overshadowing,
Virgin most pure and lowly,
Conceiving by privilege,
Godhead and Son of Man.
© 2012 Joann Nelander
Who will come to the stable
On Christmas Day?
And what will they take away?
Wise men, steadfast and earnest, came,
Instead of palace music,
They heard the donkey brae.
A lowly sound and sight,
Yet their wonder unallayed.
Many come rejoicing,
To behold the Newborn King,
While angels sing.
Christ comes for all
But not all come.
Some come, behold, then fall away,
Being rootless, they merrily go their way.
Father God prepared a voice
To announce His Only Word,
A messenger, born before, to go before.
Another child, spared Ramah’s plight
To live and pierce Sin’s long night
John, O, John, still cries, “Repent!”
Prepare if you would follow.
At Jerusalem’s Gate,
Many cried, “Messiah,”
Who would soon cry, “Crucify.”
Whose will will you do,
When the music fades in life?
Pride prides itself on ‘my way,’
Confounds with will and strife.
Without a ready, willing heart,
Nothing changes Christmas Day.
Corrupt hearts go on corrupting,
All the while the kingly Infant cries,
As throughout His life,
“I am the Way.”
Whose heart will live in yours
As angelic songs fade away.
Will you simply leave the stable
To follow your own way?
Come, O come, rejoicing!
Praying for a change.
Receive the Babe within your Heart.
Beg Him forever stay.
©2010 Joann Nelander
O God, let me climb
The Lord’s mountain,
That I may be changed,
Charged, and sent.
Going up to Jerusalem,
May sinful Man
Grab on to the tassels
Of my garment,
And run with me,
By Your Cross.
On this mountain,
This all hallowed mountain,
From which the bones of Adam,
And the faith of Abraham, cry out,
My Bridegroom comes.
©2011 Joann Nelander
From the Journey of the Mind to God by Saint Bonaventure
Mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit
Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulcher, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.
For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.
If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing love. The fire is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardor of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.
Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!
From 2 Chronicles 20:1-9, 13-24
The Moabites, the Ammonites, and with them some Meunites came to fight against Jehoshaphat. The message was brought to Jehoshaphat: “A great multitude is coming against you from across the sea, from Edom; they are already in Hazazon-tamar” (which is En-gedi). Jehoshaphat was frightened, and he hastened to consult the Lord. He proclaimed a fast for all Judah. Then Judah gathered to seek help from the Lord; from every one of the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court, and he said: “Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God in heaven, and do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand is power and might, and no one can withstand you. Was it not you, our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and gave it forever to the descendants of Abraham, your friend? They have dwelt in it and they built in it a sanctuary to your honor, saying, ‘When evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you, for your name is in this house, and we will cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save!’
All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their young sons. And the spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the clan of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly, and he said: “Listen, all of Judah, inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat! The Lord says to you: ‘Do not fear or lose heart at the sight of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Go down against them tomorrow. You will see them coming up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will come upon them at the end of the wadi which opens on the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not have to fight in this encounter. Take your places, stand firm, and see how the Lord will be with you to deliver you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or lose heart. Tomorrow go out to meet them, and the Lord will be with you.’”
Then Jehoshaphat knelt down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord in worship. Levites from among the Kohathites and Korahites rose to sing the praises of the Lord, the God of Israel, in a resounding chorus.
In the early morning they hastened out to the wilderness of Tekoa. As they were going out, Jehoshaphat halted and said: “Listen to me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Trust in the Lord, your God, and you will be found firm. Trust in his prophets and you will succeed.” After consulting with the people, he appointed some to sing to the Lord and some to praise the holy Appearance as it went forth at the head of the army. They sang: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his mercy endures forever.”
At the moment they began their jubilant hymn, the Lord laid an ambush against the Ammonites, Moabites, and those of Mount Seir who were coming against Judah, so that they were vanquished. For the Ammonites and Moabites set upon the inhabitants of Mount Seir and completely exterminated them. And when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they began to destroy each other. When Judah came to the watchtower of the desert and looked toward the throng, they saw only corpses fallen on the ground, with no survivors.
Israel is surviving against all odds, however the odds are increasing. The threats go beyond enemies without to include homegrown dilemmas.
Michael B. Oren, is a professor at the School of Foreign service at Georgetown University and a distingushed fellow at the Shalem Center, writes of Israel’s existential threats, at least seven:
The threats according to Oren are: the lose of Jerusalem, the Arab demographic threat, de-legitimization, terrorism, the nuclear-armed Iran, the hemorrhaging of sovereignty, and corruption.
Oren, however, also notes:
Israel in 2009 has treaties with Jordan and Egypt, excellent relations with Eastern Europe, China, and India, and a historic alliance with the United States. By virtually all criteria, Israel in 2009 is in an inestimably better position than at any other time in its 61 years of independence.
Though the severity of the threats jeopardizing Israel’s existence must never be underestimated, neither should Israel’s resilience and national will. That persistence reflects, at least in part, the success of the Jewish people to surmount similar dangers for well over 3,000 years. Together with Diaspora Jewry and millions of Israel supporters abroad, Israel can not only survive these perils but, as in the past, it can thrive.