by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
Sometimes, beauty at Christmastime is represented by poinsettias. Tender flowers with crimson petals which spiral out from golden bead-seed centers on a lush stand of deep green foliage. The red petals are like angular sword blades as if stained with the blood of that which has been pierced. These delicate flowers do not grow on their own in winter. They must be carefully cultivated where they are sheltered and protected from the season’s harshest elements.
You are called to be like a poinsettia for the Lord. Like beautiful poinsettias, which should not live in this season, but do because the Master Gardener tends them. He is tending to you. Especially when you are not even sure He is there.
You are called to remain this tender plant nurtured unto great beauty in the warmth of Christ. Here He does inner heart-work, which includes wound care because you may well be one who already has been pierced in and by this season of Love. It may be as if you are bleeding on the inside where most do not see, (you do not necessarily want them to see) and you cannot make the bleeding stop. You know all too well; this wound is not one which traditional doctors can treat. But as it bleeds, you can unite your wounds and the suffering which goes with these to Jesus, connecting yours to His. Your heart bleeds. His bled more. For you. For us.
The love of God is the place of your nurturing. It is the hothouse where He grows you strong in the midst of this winter. In His warm presence choosing to abide in Him steadily so you do not shrivel, freeze or die. In His resolute care, cultivated in His love. Here and now while winter roars and threatens all around, you remain united to Him. Still soft. Delicate. At risk. Cultivated by Him in and for this season. So, others can see the beauty and wonder of God shining through you not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Not a God who is far away, but the One who you have come to know is near. Not an intellectually flat concept of an academically-defined ethereal, distant theoretical entity, but a real here-and-now God-love, who is a Person, visible and acting in helpful, practical ways. Not a Lord often described by too-easily-spewed, platitude-like explanations, but One who is not completely comprehensible. Yet definitively there. This is because though pierced, you unite yourself with Him in complete surrender especially when you do not understand and the wounds still bleed. There, too, He is using you.
For this to transpire you must choose to remain soft. If self-protection has hardened you on the inside, you must let Him soften you again. Oh my…yes. No matter the perceived risk. To be beautiful and delicate, and yet in fact, more resilient, because He is your strength. (You are leaning on Him.) Though you bleed. For love, Jesus was pierced. (It hurt fiercely!) For love for Him and for others you will be pierced, too. Expect it.
One of the wonders of Christmas is He promises to make you more like Himself. He is taking what the adversary intends to destroy you (and which is evil) and using it to form you instead more into His image. To increase your understanding of the way things are this side of heaven so you can more effectively (and in His peace) be one more lamp shining forth His light of truth. And of comfort.
The wonder of Christmas then is that this God-with-us nurtures you now in starkest winter in a manner that you become one of His gifts to others. And not just at Christmas.
In Germany, the word for poinsettia is Christstern. It means Star of Christ, which seems a sort of marching orders. You are called by God to shine like one of His stars. To be the reflection of His glory, so people get excited about the possibility of God. This happens when His glow emanates through you into their personal dark nights, not by your power or necessarily even your awareness, but by your acquiescence to God’s sovereign leadership. Most effectively, after you have become that emptied out vessel where painfully none of your goals remain. As you bleed and continue to make Him your home.
Master Gardener, my trust is in You. You are my singular hope. I cling to You to get through this season. To Your promise You will let no pain, no grief, no suffering and no hardship go to waste. You are above all that concerns me and hugely away. Your mighty compassionate plan works through it all one step at a time. You are setting captives free. You are setting my heart progressively free. From oppressive, constrained mindsets which push-down, discourage and depress. to gain that truer view of You. My heart bleeds. So does Yours. When I gaze at You, I see Your love for me. And as You draw me closer and allow me to gain more Your view and strategy, I see Your Love for each one reflected in Your eyes. And I listen still in this hurting place. By Your will I am specifically and sovereignly dispatched.
28 And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.
SONG Recommended: –ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN Christmas Worship album
If you are just joining in these reflections, read the Introduction here to learn what these are all about.
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