In the Bleak Midwinter

Frozen, ice, midwinter, angel wings, angel

On the day that this is being posted, I should be hard at work fulfilling my New Year’s resolution – writing a book.  Should be, But am I?….  Because this is my serious intention, I’m scheduling posts ahead of time for January and February.  (Hmm… “ahead of time” sounds so sci-fi….)  But, I will still be checking on comments, so please share your thoughts (and keep bugging me to fulfill my resolution!)
This week, as we are still celebrating Christmas (Merry Christmas, everyone) I’m sharing an old carol that caught my ear a couple of weeks ago.  Even though the context is inaccurate – Christ being born in Bethlehem, not a place known for frozen ground and piles of snow – the sentiment is wholly accurate and beautiful.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that it was based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti.  (What a good first name, don’t you think?) Since the poem is slightly different than the lyrics sung by James Taylor in his version (the one that caught my ear) I’m sharing them both here.  My favorite line is “Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain…”.  And, in this poem, as well as in the song, I find the eternal importance of giving God my heart….
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Happy Christmas

Christmas, Isaiah, Nativity, Jesus, divine incarnate

© 2017 Christina Chase

Just One

Sometimes, I feel so small.

NASA, earth, planet

This planet is far too large for me to understand, with way too many people for my mind to comprehend.  What does 7 billion mean?  And here I am, just one.  Just one blade of grass in a continent wide savanna, one tiny drop of water in an ocean of earth-time.

And yet…

And yet, within these little bones of mine, beneath this fragile skin, I feel gnawing, aching, heartbreaking sorrows, quaking everything within me more violently than tectonic plates and magma flow.  This quivering verge of cataclysm is somehow hidden, unseen by other eyes, the tremors undetected.  And this is true for every one.  A human life can slip so easily through a fissure of space where no hands can grab it back – and the earth doesn’t even know that it is gone.

Why would God want to feel like this?

Why would God take on human flesh and limitations, a tender heart susceptible to storms and pain?…  To become a small blossom of humanity easily decimated by the winds of war, sickness and age, forgotten, neglected, rejected, ignored, unseen…?

God must know something that I don’t.

babies, infant, newborn, foot

In preparing to commemorate the birth of God Incarnate into the world, filled with awe, I wonder… and I wonder… and I am stilled with wonder

– that the All-Powerful Creator and Master of the Universe Entire should become so small.

© 2017 Christina Chase

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Photo by Ryan Graybill on Unsplash

Advent Waiting… Christmas Is Coming

I love the Advent Season.  When I was a kid, that meant that I loved Advent calendars.

Advent calendar

Oooo… my kind of Advent calendar!

Opening little doors every day to find hidden words, pictures, or best of all, CHOCOLATE, gave me a delighted little thrill that is still very warm in my memory.  I confess, the deeper, symbolic meaning of Advent was lost on me.  Back then, Advent was all about counting down to Christmas.

What child who receives presents on Christmas morning doesn’t shiver with excitement as the day draws nearer and nearer?  My parents were generous, but also practical.  My older sister sister and I knew that the only toys or games that we would own would be gifts received for either our birthdays or Christmas.  And we both have April birthdays.  So, during that long, long period between the end April and the end of December, whenever we might desire something, from a toy to a jacket, we would hear from our mother, “Christmas is coming.”  Even in July! Continue reading

Christmas Cycle

One Christmas Eve, after placing a small figure of baby Jesus in its resin manger at our house, my then 4 or 5-year-old nephew asked, “But… is he… alive?”  So much was said in his look of perplexity and disbelief – If Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, then where is he?  Shouldn’t he be growing up by now?  Also… if he was born 2000 years ago… then, maybe he should be dead – right?  Then why do we act like he’s a little newborn baby?  What is this weirdness???

Nativity scene, Christmas, Jesus in manger

Of course, there is something to be said about the Eternal Now, as well as our preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord – but that something is said in other places, I’m sure, with more scholarly expertise.  What I want to reflect upon in this post is the beauty and power of the newness of our celebrations – every single year. Continue reading

Gathering Stars

Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and offering you this poem from decades ago.

May you be filled with the wonder of God Among Us – for the Word of God, the Lord of the Universe, was made Flesh for each and every one of you, for your healing redemption and eternal joy…

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Gathering Stars

My mother gathers stars.  Continue reading

Blowing and Changing Minds: The Epiphany

So, these wise guys had an epiphany.

Epiphany wiseguys

Well, not like those wise guys. (Although who’s to say?)
They were probably a bit more like this:

epiphany Magi

So, anyway, they had all of these charts and books and tools for looking at things and, by using all of them through some system invented through some school of thought, they discovered a small child that would grow up to be the King of the Jews. And these guys were all about kings. They found them, honored them, and some even say that they made them, if kings were in need. But, this time… well, it was different.

Pauper King: It was different enough that this future King of the Jews wasn’t born in the Jewish Palace. That he was, in fact, born in a stable with a feeding trough for his first bed. By the time they found him, this toddler named Jesus was well out of the swaddling clothes and living in a house. But, it was a simple house, a peasant’s house in a simple, peasant town, and, in fact, the current Jewish king didn’t even seem to know that he existed. That was different, but not altogether strange. I mean, even back in that time there were plenty of rags-to-riches stories.

Weird star: And, yes, it was a bit bizarre and overwhelming that the star that they had plotted and followed seem to stay still – but, after all, these guys were called “Magi” from which we derive the word magic. They were well acquainted with the weirdness of the world, and, though they got really excited about the star, this, I propose, wasn’t the most wonderfully weird part. The really different part, the odd, strange, startling, earthshaking, and altogether life-altering part was… well…

Cosmic Message: What these wise guys, these men of wisdom and learning, these kingmakers were personally thinking at the time is something that we will never know. But we do know that, after finding the child and paying him homage proper to his future kingliness, they all had a similar dream. They all dreamt a warning not to return to the current king of the Jews as they had promised to do. Now, these were not men who would have easily broken a promise to a sitting king, telling him that they would do one thing and then totally dissing him. But, they took the message in the dreams seriously and did not go back to the Jewish Palace.

That was the thing that was really strange and different – they didn’t do what they usually did.
“They departed to their own country by another way.”[1]

Yeah, I know. Pretty simple words that can be pretty easily overlooked. You could be saying to yourself, “What? That’s it? Come on. Christina Chase, you are just another one of those people that reads way too much into every little word in the Bible. They just decided to take a different road, one that wouldn’t go to Jerusalem. That’s it.”

Yep, that’s it. But, that’s everything. They changed their plans, these men who were all about charts and plotting future paths. They went back on their word to a King, they chose to go against the wealthy and influential guy on the throne, these men who were all about paying homage and tribute to royalty. They were from the east and didn’t need to go south to Jerusalem in order to go back home, but that’s exactly what they were going to do – until their minds changed. The excitement of the weird star, the peasant child with his humble mother, and that dream – all were different enough in themselves, but together they made a magnificent difference. They made the wisemen do something different.


Because that’s exactly what Jesus, the true King of the Jews, the Eternal King of Kings, does.

When we get who he is, when we recognize that this man is God Incarnate, Lord and Savior of the World, then we smack our heads with the epiphany – and our lives change. We cannot continue on the same old road. We cannot go back to the same old way. We must do something different – we must be something different. Or else… well, if we don’t, then there was no epiphany at all in our lives. We followed the map, we saw the child, we paid the dutiful homage, and then we did everything else like we always do. No change. No difference. No epiphany. No salvation.

What did you do this past Christmas? Did you pick gifts from a list to buy and give to selected family and friends? Did you address and stamp cards for the customary people, remembering to dutifully add a little note to those people to whom you felt you owed a little something more? Did you check the church schedules to be sure that you would show up for Christmas service on time, allowing extra time for finding a parking spot and pew? Well, good. No, really, that is good – but it’s not good enough.

Because, now, Christmas is over, and what are you going to do? Stop singing the songs and take down the decorations? Start nostalgically morning the loss of another Christmas? Start dreading the credit card bill?

If you really celebrated Christmas, then you cannot simply go back to doing the usual things. Because, if you really celebrated Christ, then your life would always be different. You will go home, yes, that’s a blessing – but you will find new ways to get there. Becoming Christian doesn’t mean that you become born again – the greatest of epiphanies – and then do the different thing of becoming a churchgoer and charity supporter. That’s good. But not good enough.

Becoming Christian means that every day you experience conversion.

Every day you look up from your life to find the light of the divine. Every day you see God in the face of an everyday stranger. Every day you let yourself be open to surprises, to the weird and wonderful, to being overwhelmed and overjoyed – even in doing something as simple as taking another way home. (Or starting a blog post in a different style to get people’s attention.)

There are not just two roads from which we can choose: (1) the road of non-Christianity, upon which the wisemen had planned on continuing to travel and (2) the road of Christianity, upon which the wisemen chose to set out after the epiphany. There are myriad roads and paths from which to choose, even as we are following Christ. We are called to always choose strangely, to be different. Like this:

Enemies are to be loved and treated as friends.

Trials and tribulations, the crosses that we bear in life, are to be kissed and embraced.

Worldly poverty is to be understood as wealth and worldly wealth as poverty.

Sorrow is to be blessedness and suffering is to be joy.

It’s a weird world when we live in it as true Christians – but it’s wonderful, too. Healed by God’s mercy, strengthened by God’s love, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, we simply cannot do things the regular way anymore. We are new. Every day.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, then you have had your epiphany. You know where home is. And you know that the way to get there is not the same old road.

© 2016 Christina Chase

[1] Matthew 2:12 RSV

The Great Coming of the Lord

the first coming,
is quiet.

Silently he comes
in the womb of a virgin,
the womb undisturbed, untouched by man.

Patiently he comes
in the strength of her forbearance,
until she delivers her first born son.

Fragilely he comes,
a suckling newborn –
the Incarnation of God.

Tenderly he comes
in the arms of his mother,
needing to be swaddled, nurtured, loved.

Listen… Behold…
He is come
in the awesome quiet of a winter’s night.

Listen… Behold…
He is come…
even in the darkness of a wanting heart…

so quiet, so small, the majesty of the Lord…

is here.

© 2015  Christina Chase


Advent Wreath

Waxen pillars tipped with fire

in a ring of evergreen;

like our souls, the flames lift higher

with our prayers to a God unseen.


And at the core, waiting…

the bone white sepulcher of Christ –

the eucharistic cradle of divine incarnation,

which yields the Everlasting Light.


Humble Preparations

I see this image as a visual reminder for us to make our humble preparations for Christmas. Too often are we caught up in the big, the bright, and the busy, forgetting that God came among us in the quiet bareness of a stable. We need to be likewise silent and open, with our hands empty so that we may be able to receive His Presence, His love and mercy, into our hearts and into our lives.

Like the placing of straw in a worn feeding trough, let us make our humble preparations: small acts of selflessness and sacrifice in kindness to strangers; forgiveness, forbearance, and even appreciation for runny noses, noisy neighbors, and the trials of everyday life; whispered, wordless prayers from the heart, taking just a moment to lift up our eyes in gratitude, hope, faith, and praise.

In the busyness of this season, let us be mindful of the Infant Messiah, helplessly wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in his humble manger-crib. May our hearts be as lowly and lovely as this place – fit for the King of Kings…

Christmas king-size bed

© 2015 Christina Chase