Sunday, December 23, 2012

Im Coming Down

G. K. Chesterton has written a two-act play entitled The Surprise, one of only two plays he composed. Its virtually unknown and rarely enacted.

The play is cast in the Middle Ages and opens with a friar wandering through a forest. He sees a large rolling caravan (a trailer with a stage) with handsome life-size puppets lying about on the stage. The puppeteer stands above the structure.

The friar asks where the puppeteer is giving his show for he would like to see it. The puppeteer tells him to sit down and he will give him a private performance.

The man picks up the puppets strings and begins to spin out a romantic tale in which a swashbuckling hero and his friend determine to rescue a fair damsel in distress. They carry it off with a certain amount of panache, and the play ends.

The friar applauds, but the puppeteer confesses that he is very unhappy because he loves his puppets and they cannot reciprocate his love. He can only manipulate them from above. If only they were alive, he muses. The friar falls to his knees and prays that the puppeteers wish will be granted. The curtain falls on the first act.

The second act begins with the puppets lying on the stage amid their loose strings, but then the characters begin to stir on their own. They rise and start reenacting the play.

But this time everything goes wrong. The hero and his friend get drunk and quarrel; they show jealousy over the heroine; they arrive too late to rescue herat which point, the puppet master stands up on the roof of the caravan and shouts, Stop! Im coming down. And he drops down onto the stage to save his puppets from themselves.

The play ends at this point, and Chesterton offers no explanation.[1] 

I leave that to you...


[1] Good metaphors need no explanation. George MacDonald said, “If I draw a picture of a horse and must explain, “This is a horse,” I have not drawn a very good picture of a horse.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012


“When (the Magi) had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

I read the story of the Magi this morning and recalled a Christmas episode of “The Simpsons,” in which Professor Frink, playing a would-be wise man, admits to regifting the myrrh he brought for the baby Jesus. "Because,” he explained. "Who needs myrrh?” 

Exactly. Myrrh is a gooey, gummy resin used for the most part to embalm the dead, an unlikely gift to give or receive. Who needs it?

Wise Men know: myrrh was something this child one day would need.


Friday, December 14, 2012

An Exceptionally Good Christmas

"I think we're going to have an exceptionally good Christmas."

If I had written these words I would probably have been thinking that our family would all be together for a white Christmas. I would probably imagine that well ahead of time all the cards had been mailed, all the preparations made and everything would be "just so." We would have a brightly lit tree and lovely red and green decorations, filling my heart with good memories. There would be the just-right presents to bring delight and joy to each one. There would be singing and laughing, playing games and a festive meal, with everyone decked out in their Christmas finery and caring for one another.  And I would find a fresh way to present the Christmas story at just the right time, which would be meaningful to all. There would be no worries, no loneliness, no health issues, no one missing from our family circle, either spacially or emotionally. At our house Evie would be singing "Come On Ring Those Bells" to welcome everyone in!

"I think we're going to have an exceptionally good Christmas."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote those words to his fiancée while he was isolated in a dark, cruel Germany prison as World War 2 was raging. He went on to explain:

"The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious, the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: "We're beggars: it's true." The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ's home on earth."
Letter to fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer, December 1, 1943

Because of God's priceless gift of His Son, may each of us have an exceptionally good Christmas, content with what is truly essential. Content whatever our Christmas looks like this year.

Carolyn Roper

The selection from Bonhoeffer comes from the work, God Is in the MangerReflections on Advent and Christmas; compiled by Jana Riess.

Ferns Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the sh...