Well, the Advent and Christmas Season has come and gone again. We always have the intentions, probably expecting a little too much during the month of December. There is a fine line between being obsessive and intentional. Some of our plans this year were wrecked, wait... no, redirected because of sickness, bad weather, and just plain old trying to fit too much into it. So no, our weekly Advent time didn't happen every Sunday night at 7:30 like we had planned. Our annual Rock City Trip, which is an Advent surprise that helps build the expectation in our kiddos, didn't happen at all this year. We did, however, have an amazingly rest filled Christmas week and post-Christmas vacation for which we are grateful.
Last year, I received one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts. Becky knew how much I kept looking at a particular picture. A friend of mine from college posted it on their Instagram the previous Christmas. I just kept thinking and talking about it. So, Becky tracked it down and purchased it for me. It is called Virgin Mary Consoles Eve. When the package arrived, included in it was a poem written by the artist.
O Eve! My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away,
Our God has brought us to a New Day.
See, I am with Child,
Through whom all will be reconciled.
O Eve! My sister, my friend,
We will rejoice together
Life without end
I've seen a lot more people thinking about the picture over the past few years. It has inspired the artists of Rain For Roots to write a song about it on their Advent album. We especially love the first verse:
Eve, my sister, the one who took the Fall
Eve, my sister, Mother of us all
Lift up your head, don't hide your blushing face
The Promised One is finally on His way!
Check out the whole song:
We put all of the other decorations away. However, this great print stays out all year long to remind us that there is hope in Jesus. To be honest, the Rain for Roots album is played throughout the year too because it is one of the only cds that we have in our van! I love the picture so much, Becky painted a smaller version of it to go in my office at work!
You've probably already put your decorations away too. While it might be a little late, I wanted to share with you something that Becky wrote this week.
Christmas has so many fun ways of celebrating - family, food, Elf and all the other fun Christmas movies, generosity in gift-giving, magical lights, Advent, carols by candlelight, and New Years pondering. The theme of God and sinners reconciled hopefully resonates deep in our hearts long after we put the decorations away.
The Gospel of Christ is uncomfortable
The Gospel of Christ is uncomfortable for some, or even hated by others as it reminds us all of the curse of sin and our need for a Savior. Yet, there is also a cutting-comfort liken to the cut of a surgeon, healing cuts that our hearts yearn for to be healthy. His story becomes our story. Hope and life replace No shame and despair. No more hopelessness despite deep loss. No more let sins and sorrows reign! God is truly with us and Earth is not our ultimate end.
The snake-crusher has come!
Merry Christmas, no matter where you are in you spiritual journey. You are loved by your Maker. There is redeeming hope despite your circumstances. The Gospel is not the promise of a "blessed" life by human standards. There is pain and loss and death. The thorns and the pain of the curse still exist. At times, there is blessing in the midst of wealth and at other times there is blessing in the midst of poverty. Pain should not and cannot be flippantly passed over or dismissed. Circumstances sometimes don't change.
Yes, Life is still hard, but Immanuel-God with us. He has slayed the eternal sting of sin. He is the snake-crusher. Though the spiral of sin led to captivity and exile, though there was 400 years of silence from the mouth of God. Immanual was born. The glory of God dwelt among men. Through His life, His death, and His resurrection He crushed the head of the snake.
Further still, as if it needed to get better, He will come again as a warrior and defeat not only the eternal sting of sin but the presence of sin. He will reverse the curse finally, recreating a new heaven and a new earth. Right now, until then, His Spirit is with us, within us, leading us. The Spirit of the Christ, the one who endured pain, rejection, doubts, abandonment, all the way to emotional and physical torture. The snake-crusher was wounded and bruised, so He understands. He gets it. His Spirit now carries God's adopted sons and daughters through it all. He comforts, coaches, and gives council. He ushers in the "on earth as it is in heaven" prayers in our lives according to the will of the Father. His presence, God with us. His peace, God in us. It goes beyond human understanding, offers comfort for the broken-hearted, healing for the wounded, strength for the weary and true wisdom for the confused.
Praise the Lord, the snake-crusher has won. Hallelujah, His Spirit leads us now! Amen, He will come again!
Christian, our hope is not in our bank account. It isn't in our looks. It surely isn't in our social or marriage status, how influential we are on social media, our list of talents or toys. Lest you be confused, our hope is not in our government. We are not passive, observers or spectators of life. We work with the grace God gives through the power of His Spirit. We use our gifts and talents while walking by faith and trusting He is king. He is sovereign and justice will roll down.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!