Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When Jesus breathed His first earth-air...

painting by Hannah Renae Joiner (

Shoppers and shooters and holidays and lay-offs and presents and pain with feasts on tables and a red-suited sleigh-driver...
madness ---- sheer madness surrounds.

Last week a walking nightmare stepped into an elementary school --- a cold heart carried guns.
In the moments next, nothing mattered more than saving little souls and trying to survive.

As minutes ticked off on the clock, billions of breathers went about their routines 'round the world ---- but in a 1st grade classroom, the plans changed quickly from reviewing new spelling words to hiding in closets and cabinets.
My beautiful daughter was trying on wedding dresses, twirling in front of lights and mirrors --- when the monster we'd all feared lurked under our childhood beds walked into a classroom, and red love flowed from little ones.
When we heard the news of evil's arrival at Sandy Hook --- Maggie and i ended our day and drove home with sick stomachs.

Since then --- news media has hammered out words turning the terror into drama. People with good hearts have struggled with how to react, what to think, who to blame, what to do now. Before the little ones were even laid to rest, arguments erupted ---- gun control vs. mental health issues, personality disorders vs. protection of children.
Madness flowed full force as tears came from pain and created rivers of anger.
We humans react so poorly.
When gut-level grief is in order ---- we all too often gush forth with opinions and attitudes that have nothing to do with comfort and presence.

Weeks ago, as the Christmas season drew near, i shared time with hurting hearts and wounded souls. Emails, phone calls, sit-down together times, produced a flood of words from a world of aching saints. There are SO MANY among us who carry smiling faces and pray their shaking knees will hold them up for the performance required of them in this world gone mad. None of us wants to give into the shattering inside --- so we get up, dust ourselves off, move ahead, and hope for the best.
We feel our need.
Some of us admit it.
(There are those though who wear painted masks so well with pacifiers of medications or materialism -- they can no longer even name the need that gnaws at them.)

Regardless though ---- this time of year --- we celebrate the God-child's birth with twinkling lights and big-bowed packages.

When baby Jesus came, when He arrived into Mary's arms, do we suppose He knew there would be stable animals, unsanitary mangers, and the need to run from soldiers even before His legs could walk? Do we think, as we gaze at the glowing Christmas tree, that the Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes might not have known the fullness of the passion that was soon to come upon him?
Our Christ's arrival came after 400 years of silence --- no prophet spoke a word, no angel of God revealed a glimpse during the 400 years before the angel's visits to Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, and then Joseph.
Four centuries of silence.
Then the beginning ... that would lead to red-love flowing for all us little ones...

As i've sat with so many wounded during these past weeks ---- i've also rejoiced over the goodness of His red-love flowing to us.
Sadness, depression, down-trodden gloom is not the right response.
But twinkling lights surrounding festive parties filled with overflowing tables feeding needy souls ---- not the right response either.

When Jesus breathed His first earth-air, 
He began the journey that would take Him to the cross.

In Bethlehem...
Angels sang to shepherds, "Glory to God ... Peace on earth..." the Savior has arrived. (Luke 2:14)
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord." (Luke 2:11)
Celebration for mankind was in order.
But the God-child knew --- His journey to the cross had begun.

The cross.
The place of greatest suffering -- where flesh was torn and hell's gates were opened.
Why would i dare speak of the cross ---- at CHRISTMAS time?

Why have i failed to focus on the magnitude of the Gift that came when the babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in that manger???

The gift to the earth came that Christmas morn. But the baby lying in the manger knew the gift would be fully handed to mankind when His red-love flowed at the cross.

In the delivering of the Gift, the Giver knew the price it would cost.
The passion of the cross, the suffering of the Savior, the arrival of the God-child, the skin covered presence of Peace.

Suffering and Goodness --- Pain and Joy ---- it all flows together --- and can cause beauty to rise from ashes, the oil of joy to wrap around our mourning, and a garment of praise to cover the chill of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)

This Christmas i'm pondering the Cross as i look at our "tree"(the twinkling, ribbon wrapped one).
Next Easter i'm purposing to remember the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, willing to breathe earth-air and give red-love on the "tree"(the heavy, splintered, bloodstained one).

It's a massive mix-up of sorts i suppose ----- but then again ---- it just might bring more clarity -- in the madness of this world.

(Hannah is selling copies of her painting- proceeds of these prints will be sent to The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, which will provide counseling to survivors, pay for funeral expenses for victims, create a scholarship fund for the school's students and fund a memorial.
Contact with any questions)

©2012 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe


  1. this is beautiful, and is the second time within the hour that i have heard, from two women i love, the need for the inclusion of the Cross at Christmas.

    it is madness, this place we live in and how it wreaks havoc on the soul. without madness though, we wouldn't be faced with our need for a Savior. glory to God in the highest for his AMAZING gift!

    check out Ann Voskamp's blog post from a year ago:

    love you, woman!

  2. thank you so much dear Jenn -- you bless me so much with such encouragements! amazing Ann's writing from a year ago -- oh how i believe our Abba wants us all to "focus" on the gift He gave --- none more are needed. love you dear one!