"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NOT From a Distance

I stood at the kitchen sink stirring the caramel icing to its correct consistency while the under-the-counter radio next to me played the season's songs. Not giving much thought to what was coming through the speakers, I quietly hummed along to the words being sung.

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

Yes, it was Bette Midler singing Julie Gold's, "From a Distance."Granted, much of the song's popularity coincided with Desert Storm. I get that. You can hear it in the 3rd verse.

And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

And the 5th:

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

I've heard and even sung this popular song for years, but every time it strikes a dissonant chord with me. Whereas the music industry throws darts at its lyrical content, its stiff rhythms and drums, I always cringe when Ms. Midler gets to the chorus. 

God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

I don't know, but that just seems to go against everything we are celebrating during this season of Advent and Christmas. After all, didn't the angel say to Joseph His name was to be Emmanuel? The With-Us God? Indeed, he did.

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:23).

To say that God is watching us from a distance undermines the entire Christmas narrative of which this season shouts. The whole Gospel story for that matter. 

"And the Word became flesh and lived AMONG us...." (John 1:14). NOT from a distance.

"[He] emptied himself, ... being born in human likeness..." (Philippians 2:7). NOT from a distance.

And even as Jesus Himself says when praying to His Father just prior to His betrayal and arrest, "I IN them" (John 17:23). NOT from a distance.

In all fairness, Ms. Gold, the writer of the lyrics, says she believes in an immanent and beneficent God and that the song is about the difference between how things appear to be and how they really are.

So, yes, at times it appears that "God is watching us from a distance." But NOTHING, my friends, could be more untrue. Let's celebrate this season in truth: Emmanuel. God is with us!!!

Just an ordinary moment...

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