Another year is almost behind us. As I age, an aspect of faith that I increasingly appreciate is juxtaposition – i.e. two very different things placed side by side for contrasting effect.
In the past year, I was honored to be named Tapestry’s first coordinator for our 1-year missions interns. (As gatekeeper and “wrangler” of each intern’s Missions Advocacy Team (MAT), I was cleverly dubbed the “MAT-a-door” by Harry Yoon.)
Around this time of year is when our missions interns struggle the hardest. They become fed up with aspects of their host cultures that were once only an annoyance. They’ve exhausted their energy and personal stores of positivity. They’re confronted with the harsh reality of how much of their faith they actually believe. They dearly miss home.
Yet in this season, the juxtaposition of struggle and glory is also highlighted. There’s a beauty that adorns our interns’ struggles. More than most people we know, our interns are hanging on for dear life as they swirl madly in the riptide of Father’s will for them. There is an order to the chaos in our interns’ lives. Tracing the narrative of Father’s work through their updates, I see how Father has mad skeelz as their Perfect Teacher. There is an edification (literally, a building up) that can only occur when foundations are shaken up and laid down anew.
In the middle of the dullest, darkest times, the light of Father’s glory shines brighter by juxtaposition, and inspires me to worship.
One of the perks of getting to read Scripture aloud during service is that the weekly passage makes a deeper impression on me. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) was no exception. I went over this teenager’s spontaneous outburst of song and poetry about five times to prep for service, and realized that her verses were all about juxtaposition. She sees her Lord and Savior as one who tumbles the mighty but exalts the shorties; who brings down the ballers but defends the desperate; who straight-arms the proud and strong-arms his servants’ enemies.
In the middle of a pregnancy that threatened to rip her world apart, Mary makes sense of her chaos by ordering it…with a melody. Her song harnessed all the violence of divinity breaking into mortality…and she encapsulates the phenomenon as a prophetic lullaby for her unborn son.
Out of centuries of death-bearing darkness, our God pierced the silence with the bright cry of a baby. Light had landed. Joy made a spectacular entrance. The glory of the Living God lovingly juxtaposed itself as a promise of hope against a backdrop of despair.
Jesus Christ has entered the building, y’all. Make room.
And merry Christmas. =)