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Miracle on 10th Street: And Other Christmas Writings by [Madeleine L'Engle, Diana Butler Bass, Lindsay Lackey]
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Miracle on 10th Street: And Other Christmas Writings Kindle Edition

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“Madeleine L’Engle captures the spiritual heart of Christmas—an invitation to gaze into the miraculous presence of God in and with and through the world.”—Diana Butler Bass, from the Foreword --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Advent is not a time to declare, but to listen, to listen to whatever God may want to tell us through the singing of the stars, the quickening of a baby, the gallantry of a dying man.
—from “Redeeming All Brokenness”

O Oriens

O come, O come Emmanuel
within this fragile vessel here to dwell.
O Child conceived by heaven’s power
give me thy strength: it is the hour.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high;
like any babe at life you cry;
for me, like any mother, birth
was hard, O light of earth.

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
whose birth came hastily at night,
born in a stable, in blood and pain
is this the king who comes to reign?

O come, thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
the stars will be thy diadem.
How can the infinite finite be?
Why choose, child, to be born of me?

O come, thou key of David, come,
open the door to my heart-home.
I cannot love thee as a king—
so fragile and so small a thing.

O come, thou Day-spring from on high:
I saw the signs that marked the sky.
I heard the beat of angels’ wings
I saw the shepherds and the kings.

O come, Desire of nations, be
simply a human child to me.
Let me not weep that you are born.
The night is gone. Now gleams the morn.

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel,
God’s Son, God’s Self, with us to dwell.

Redeeming All Brokenness

As we move into Advent we are called to listen, something we seldom take time to do in this frenetic world of over-activity. But waiting for birth, waiting for death—these are listening times, when the normal distractions of life have lost their power to take us away from God’s call to center in Christ.

During Advent we are traditionally called to contemplate death, judgment, hell, and heaven. To give birth to a baby is also a kind of death—death to the incredible intimacy of carrying a child, death to old ways of life and birth into new—and it is as strange for the parents as for the baby. Judgment: John of the Cross says that in the evening of life we shall be judged on love; not on our accomplishments, not on our successes and failures in the worldly sense, but solely on love.

Once again, as happened during the past nearly two thousand years, predictions are being made of the time of this Second Coming, which, Jesus emphasized, “even the angels in heaven do not know.” But we human creatures, who are “a little lower than the angels,” too frequently try to set ourselves above them with our predictions and our arrogant assumption of knowledge which God hid even from the angels. Advent is not a time to declare, but to listen, to listen to whatever God may want to tell us through the singing of the stars, the quickening of a baby, the gallantry of a dying man.

Listen. Quietly. Humbly. Without arrogance.

In the first verse of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, we sing, “Word of God, our flesh that fashioned with the fire of life impassioned,” and the marvelous mystery of incarnation shines. “Because in the mystery of the Word made flesh,” goes one of my favorite propers, for it is indeed the mystery by which we live, give birth, watch death.

When the Second Person of the Trinity entered the virgin’s womb and prepared to be born as a human baby (a particular baby, Jesus of Nazareth), his death was inevitable.

It is only after we have been enabled to say, “Be it unto me according to your Word,” that we can accept the paradoxes of Christianity. Christ comes to live with us, bringing an incredible promise of God’s love, but never are we promised that there will be no pain, no suffering, no death, but rather that these very griefs are the road to love and eternal life.

In Advent we prepare for the coming of all Love, that love which will redeem all the brokenness, wrongness, hardnesses of heart which have afflicted us.

Born once

Born once.
That’s enough.
Jesus was born once,
for us.
That’s enough. That’s love.
Love is once for all
for all of us.
Jesus will come
He who was once born.
He will come when he will
Love is once for all
For all. That’s enough.

Life—A Gift

These are very special weeks, these weeks before Christmas, weeks of quiet waiting, weeks of remembering forty years of Christmasses with Hugh, or earlier Christmasses with my parents, weeks of affirmation that life is a gift and that what we have had we will always have, and that despite the “change and decay in all around we see” we do have a part to play in the future.

Time and Space Turned Upside Down

Avent. That time of waiting, waiting even more trembling and terrible than the waiting between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

But what are we waiting for? Why? We’re not waiting, as we so often are taught as children, for Christmas, for the baby Jesus to be born in a stable in Bethlehem. We’re waiting for something that has not happened yet, that has never happened before, something totally new. We know only what the end of this waiting has been called throughout the centuries: The Second Coming.

What is it, the coming of Christ in glory? The return of Christ to the earth? What’s it going to be like? We don’t know. We don’t know anything about this event that is new, that has never before happened.

But, being human and therefore curious, we want to know. We want to know so badly that sometimes we think we do know, and that can sometimes lead to danger and even evil. Whenever we want to know something before its true time, we get into trouble. We’ve never learned how to wait. We’re impatient creatures. Our impatience, our unwillingness to wait, is all through our stories, from Adam and Eve on.

The only thing I know about the Second Coming is that it is going to happen because of God’s love. God made the universe out of love; the Word shouted all things joyfully into being because of love. The Second Coming, whenever it happens and whatever it means, will also be because of love.


We express what we believe in icons, which are creative, or idols, which are destructive. But what is a constructive icon?

Icons break time and space. One of my favorite icons is Reblev’s famous picture of the Trinity, the three heavenly angels who came to visit Abraham and Sarah sitting at a table in front of the tent. On the table is the meal that has been prepared for the heavenly visitors, and what is this meal? We look at the table and see chalice and paten, the bread and the wine. Time and space turned upside down. Here, three thousand years before the birth of Christ, is the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; here, three thousand years before Jesus came into time for us, is the body and the blood.

So what could be an icon of the Second Coming? I think of Creation itself, and how little the astrophysicists know about it. It does seem that there was, indeed, a moment of Creation, when something, so subatomically tiny as to be almost nothing at all, suddenly opened up to become everything. How long did it take? There wasn’t any time before the beginning. Time began with the beginning. Time will end at the ending, at the Second Coming.

On a rare, clear night I look at the stars. According to present knowledge, all the stars are rushing away from each other at speeds impossible for us to conceive. Are they going to keep on, getting further and further away, more and more separate? Or is there going to be a point at which the procedure is reversed, and they start coming together again? Nobody knows.

The metaphor that has come to me is birth. Our ordinary (oh, no, they’re not ordinary at all—they’re extraordinary) human births. Right now I am like the unborn baby in the womb, knowing nothing except the comforting warmth of the amniotic fluid in which I swim, the comforting nourishment entering my body from a source I cannot see or understand. My whole being comes from an unseen, unknown nurturer. By that nurturer I am totally loved and protected, and that love is forever. It does not end when I am precipitated out of the safe waters of the womb into the unsafe world. It will not end when I breathe my last, mortal breath. That love manifested itself joyously in the creation of the universe, became particular for us in Jesus, and will show itself most gloriously in the Second Coming. We need not fear.

There are many tough questions for which we have no finite, cut-and-dried answers. Even Jesus did not answer all our questions! But he came, because of that love which casts out fear. He came, and he will come again.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Coming, ready or not!

Luke 14:32

Coming, ready or not!
The children freeze in their hiding places
waiting to be found.
They are ready.

When the time for the banquet came,
he sent his servant to say
to those who had been invited,

Coming, ready or not!
The old woman in the nursing home
mumbles what she can remember
of old prayers & hymns.
She is ready.

“Come along; everything is ready now.”
But all alike started to make excuses.

Coming, ready or not!
The executive planning a meeting
shouting for lists & faxes
isn’t ready to be ready
not yet.

The first said, “I have bought a
piece of land and must go and
see it. Please accept my apologies.”

Coming, ready or not!
Am I ready to be ready?
Can I put it all down
all the burdens
all the needs of love
is getting ready to be ready
ready enough?

Yet another said, “I have just got
married and so am unable to come.”

Another said, “I have bought five
yoke of oxen and am on my way to try
them out. Please accept my apologies.”

Coming, ready or not?
Drop it all. Let it go.
Let’s go!

Advent, 1971

When will he come
and how will he come
and will there be warnings
and will there be thunders
and rumbles of armies
coming before him
and banners and trumpets
When will he come
and how will he come
and will we be ready

O woe to you people
you sleep through the thunder
you heed not the warnings
the fires and the drownings
the earthquakes and stormings
and ignorant armies
and dark closing on you
the song birds are falling
the sea birds are dying
no fish now are leaping
the children are choking
in air not for breathing
the aged are gasping
with no one to tend them

a bright star has blazed forth
and no one has seen it
and no one has wakened

Forever’s Start

The days are growing noticeably shorter; the nights are longer, deeper, colder. Today the sun did not rise as high in the sky as it did yesterday. Tomorrow it will be still lower. At the winter solstice the sun will go below the horizon, below the dark. The sun does die. And then, to our amazement, the Son will rise again.

Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come
In your fearful innocence.
We fumble in the far-spent night
Far from lovers, friends, and home:
Come in your naked, newborn might.
Come, Lord Jesus, quickly come;
My heart withers in your absence.

Come, Lord Jesus, small, enfleshed
Like any human, helpless child.
Come once, come once again, come soon:
The stars in heaven fall, unmeshed:
The sun is dark, blood’s on the moon.
Come, Word who came to us enfleshed,
Come speak in joy untamed and wild.

Come, thou wholly other, come,
Spoken before words began,
Come and judge your uttered world
Where you made our flesh your home.
Come, with bolts of lightning hurled,
Come, thou wholly other, come,
Who came to man by being man.

Come, Lord Jesus, at the end,
Time’s end, my end, forever’s start.
Come in your flaming, burning power.
Time, like the temple veil, now rend;
Come, shatter every human hour.
Come, Lord Jesus, at the end.
Break, then mend the waiting heart. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • Publisher : Convergent Books (29 October 2019)
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1788 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 181 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
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