Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Day After...And Everything Is Different

Yesterday was the day after Christmas. Whether or not December 25 is the actual date of Christ’s birth, it is the day on which a good portion of the world stops to celebrate (whether they know the origin of their celebration or not) the birth of The One Who Changed Everything.

One day mankind arose, worked, ate and went to bed under the death-curse of sin. And the next day we awoke to a world that cradled at last its own Long-Promised Redeemer. We woke up and everything was different…better…possible…new.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light!

… For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us!
He'll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.”

(from the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, found in Isaiah 9, quoted from The Message)

The prophets of Israel had talked for generations about the promise of a new day when God would right the wrongs, turn the tables for the Grand Reversal on wickedness and death. The birth of Jesus was the start of that new day. His death and resurrection sealed it. No more searching the skies for the sign of the promise. No more crying in captivity. No more groping around and stumbling in the darkness. The whole world was caught in an ambush of God-light and God-love and nothing has been the same since. The Light had come!

In Alaska, we understand light and dark. When we pass the winter solstice and the days start to lengthen again, we count every second. The local news announces each day’s gain of sunlight and no increment is too small to note. We are coming out of the long darkness and craving the light that brings the hope of springtime – and new life.

Jesus changed everything. We were asleep in the darkness of our sick, fallen, wicked ways. And one day, we woke up and everything was different. Jesus was in the world. These are the days after Christmas. Did you notice the new day? Did you know that everything has changed? Did you know you got a do-over?

"Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, "Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the dark." (John 12:44-46, The Message)

Ambushed by God and brought from darkness into the light,

Saturday, December 24, 2011

On the Eve of Christ

It’s Christmas Eve and soft snow is falling. It doesn’t come much more special than Christmas Eve.  I’m waiting to leave for Midnight Mass with a friend. I am not intimately familiar with the Catholic traditions, but I am looking forward to candles and music and the incense – especially the incense.

It was on the eve of Christ’s birth that God Himself was looking forward to that sweet incense that was Jesus, come to offer His life as a fragrant sacrifice for us all. The censer was lit at His birth and the smoke ascended in full at His death and it covered the generations of sinful stench we had produced in God’s nose.

Christmas Eve – the Eve of the Christ – it is a one-of-a-kind moment of waiting for a one-of-a-kind act of love: God with Us, among us, come to be known by us and to rescue us.

On this Christmas Eve, may you find that Immanuel awaits you at the dawn of a new day and may you catch His scent on your own life.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
(Ephesians 5:1, NASB)

Ambushed by Immanuel-God-With-Us,

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sealed With A Kiss

My two-year-old keeps stealing the baby Jesus from our Nativity. His big brother used to do the same thing. We have found the tiny figurine in the bed sheets, in the Christmas tree branches, riding in a toy train, and if I remember correctly, one morning we found it tucked into my son’s pajamas.

The other day, my littlest one was carrying the baby Jesus figurine around the house, kissing it and saying, “Thank You, Jesus!” over and over.

It was sweet, but it was more more than that.
It was the appropriate response to Jesus.

Yes. What he said...
Thank You, Jesus.
For the coming, for the living, for the dying, for the resurrecting, for the ascending…thank You.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NASB)

God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. (John 3:16, New Century Version)

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.  (John 3:16-18, The Message)

Ambushed by God,