Some years ago Stillwater Minnesota High school Senior Zach Sobiech was diagnosed with an Osteocarcarcenoma that eventually took his life. This remarkable young man’s response was amazing. He wrote a song that quickly became a hit – one that I downloaded immediately. The song is called “Clouds”. In the song Zach sang about “falling into a hole” (his cancer) but then, with faith and optimism, he sang about going “up, up, up”. I have always loved the song and its spirit. As a preacher I have preached on the glories of heaven hundreds of times. The truth is that when I was diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant, Glioblastoma on the top of my brain stem (the Pons), I was not happy Like Zach. I wanted to sing with joy “I am going up, up, up”. Instead, this selfish preacher was very literally crying “I want more, more, more – time”. God has been good to me and extended my life beyond expectation. Still greedy, I want more, more, and more.
During this Christmas (most likely my last) what I find so remarkable about God is not that we get to go up, but instead God came down to us. This is the ultimate act of love. God came down to us to meet us in the only way that we could understand and relate to – as a tiny baby.
I am fortunate. I have met a couple of visionary leaders, preachers and teachers in my life. A visionary is like a prophet. They are hard to spot because they all seem to have the ability to fly faster, higher and see further than the average person. They are also unremarkable. Like Joseph and Mary, we see them as ordinary people and so we miss seeing the divine in them. Visionaries and prophets let God guide them, which often makes them seem strange. What makes them so remarkable is that they can swoop down to meet us at our level. That is what God did in the gift of his son, the Christ child. This is the greatest gift of all. A gift that came down and will one day take us up.
I pray that you have the best Christmas ever. May you be surrounded by those you love and not be consumed by the grief of missing people you loved who aren’t with you. I pray that your children are perfectly behaved and do not get any gravy stains on their Christmas best. May everyone eat and drink in perfect moderation so no pain or insult is caused. I hope something magical and of the spirit happens, even more so than learning that he “went to Jared” or more so than a new Lexus with a big red ribbon there for you on your driveway.
If for some reason you find yourself disappointed in some way, I am sorry. Know that God came down for you and God will take you up.
Merry Christmas everyone! Let’s thank God by looking upward, traveling onward and being not afraid.