A Holy Hush A Love Divine

Advent IV

My pilgrimage to Bethlehem was quite different than Mary’s. Although we both traveled in the winter months, she carried the savior of the world in her womb, I simply carried the hope and love of that savior in my heart. Her journey was arduous and long, winding thru the landscape of the Judean desert and around the rugged hills of Jerusalem. Mine was a short ride on a luxurious tour bus, protected from the elements and other dangers along the way .

Arriving at the West Bank in modern day, one could easily feel the close and oppressive political climate. Passing thru the necessary military checkpoints, that “not-so-little” town of Bethlehem came into view. A holy hush fell over me, and so did the reminder that in this 21st century moment, Mary wouldn’t even be allowed to pass this way.

Church of the Nativity January 2020

Physically standing at the birthplace of Jesus– seeing, feeling, and touching, left me both humbled and awestruck. I wondered what it must have been like that starry night when holiness met humanity, when poverty birthed royalty, when LOVE came down. It was as if I could see both the babe in the manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, and the savior of the world wrapped in my scars of sin hanging on the cross, all at the same time….and another holy hush fell.

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore NOEL: Lyrics by Chris Tomlin

Christmas has taken on many facets thru the seasons of my life, but at the heart of tradition and festivities lies that holy hush, a love divine. Another season of Advent gives way to the greatest gift we will ever known. We wait no more.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Traveling to Bethlehem was an incredible experience and one I won’t soon forget. It has added new experience, and life, and dimension to a moment in history that has changed the world, and to a truth that has changed my life.

Outside the Grotto of the Nativity – in Bethlehem 2020
The 14 points on the Star signify 14 generations as stated in Matthew 1:17 and sits at the birthplace of Jesus — Grotto of the Nativity 2020

With only one day until Christmas…perhaps a pilgrimage to Bethlehem isn’t on your to do list, but a pilgrimage towards the truth of Christmas, experiencing that holy hush, and celebrating His Love Divine is the greatest gift you can ever know.

A beautiful artist rendering of the nativity painted on the walls inside the Church of the Nativity

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 KJV



Ode to Joy



I don’t know what images come to your mind when you hear the word JOY.  On that first Christmas, Joy came thru a series of unlikely events, after a long, difficult journey, and no room at the inn.

At the core of Christmas lies a JOY that brings with it great blessing and significant spiritual power.   The writer of Psalms tells us that Joy is a gift from God – Psalm 126:3.  

For as long as I can remember the cold days of December brought with it the festive excitement of Christmas, laden with candles and decorations and gathering together. 

Sometimes it was perfect…. And sometimes it wasn’t. 

The year there were no gifts….until friends and neighbors showed up at our door with 6 bright red stockings filled with love and the true JOY of Christmas.

When the boxes around our tree weren’t wrapped with ribbons and bows, rather, they were filled with belonging acquired from our first little home together.    Preparing to move 800 miles away from everything and everyone we had known, the REAL JOY of Christmas wasn’t dictated or displaced by external circumstances.

The year our “first Christmas Eve as parents” plans and expectations were dashed by fevered brow and crying babe, was the year we discovered anew…  the most beautiful quality of Christmas JOY is the abiding sense of “enough-ness” that it brings. 

When my profession found me spending Christmas in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit—challenged and questioning the JOY of Christmas, it was the words of the Prophet Nehemiah that sustained me—“the JOY of the Lord is our strength” – Nehemiah 8:10.

Real joy surpasses worldly pleasure and it even sustains us thru the hard days of loss and grief (in the PICU), or when we face that first Christmas without a dear loved one by our side. 

Whatever images come to your mind when you hear the word JOY….

“Don’t be afraid; look, I bring you good news of great joy for everyone.”  Luke 2:10 

Even in the most challenging times the good news of Christmas ignites Joy. 

Amidst the imperfectly perfect…. Fear not!  Welcome the Good News!  Ode to JOY!




For Advent II

Dear Lord,

As I align my daily habits to a posture of preparation in the tangible details, help me to first align the posture of my heart in the sacred details. 

This Christmas season, even before the decorating and wrapping and baking, may I set aside time to ponder the miracle of your birth, that silent, holy night. 

Grant that I would steward well, my time and resources. 

Just as PERFECT PREPARATION was in order for sending us the Savior of the world,

let the PROPER PREPARATION make my home and my life a place where gracious hospitality and your spirit dwells. 

A voice cries:  “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Isaiah 40:3-4 ESV

When obstacles and expectations create uneven ground, stir my heart in the preparation O God, to walk on level ground.  When darkness of the valley overshadows, let it be your presence that prepares me and lifts me up. 

As this Christmas Season brings a spirit of gathering and celebration with family and friends…Lord, may I not just prepare gifts and goodies for this moment…

But by your spirit, let gifts and goodness flow in every moment…making straight in the desert a highway for my God.

That first Christmas was entwined in both the grandest and the humblest of preparations. May the details of my life this Christmas season and beyond, be no different. 

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”  Isaiah 40: 5 ESV

Until you come again, Amen and Amen.


Advent Week I

The unsurpassed literary brilliance of the prophet Isaiah offers the weary world a compelling message of HOPE. He doesn’t gloss over the need for salvation. Sin and judgement are very real! But so is salvation and restoration.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

As we embark on this season of ADVENT, the cries of humanity loom loud and large. Not much different from the Israelites, who were enduring drought, famine, and exhile.

In their waiting, the faithful Israelites clung to this promise and others, scattered throughout the Old Testament. Isaiah’s description of the Messiah gave the Israelites something to look forward to, and to find HOPE of deliverance in.

Perhaps this Advent season you find yourself waiting. Surrounded by enduring hardships and impossibilities like you have never known, you’d give anything for a miraculous deliverance.

Or perhaps, you are simply waiting in long lines, waiting for that package to be delivered, waiting for the snow to fly, or waiting for the lights to shine.

Don’t let hardships or busyness threaten to crowd out the quiet anticipation of this sacred season. Remember, it’s not the perfect situation we wait for. It’s not the perfect Christmas we wait for. It is a better celebration still to come…. O come o come Emmanuel.

For the nation of Israel, Isaiah’s words were a prophetic message of HOPE. For us, it is a prophesy fulfilled!

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:31-33

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

In our 2021 waiting, in our 2021 celebration of the Christ Child, and in our 2021 expectation for a Coming King, may the thrill of HOPE breath light and life into our weary world.

“There’s HOPE in the morning There’s HOPE in the evening There’s HOPE because you’re living There’s HOPE because you’re breathing There’s HOPE in the breaking There’s HOPE in the sorrow There’s HOPE for this moment My HOPE for tomorrow” — You Keep Hope Alive by Jon Reddick

Waiting in HOPE, Crystal

%d bloggers like this: