Friday, December 16, 2016

The Reason for All Seasons

For years people have proclaimed Jesus is the reason for the season. Meaning that He is the reason for Christmas. Of course, not everybody meditates on the Christ child while celebrating the chaos they gleefully dive into once a year. Some don’t give a thought to the ancient tale of the baby born of a virgin. Shopping, parties, and forcing screaming toddlers onto Santa’s lap are the unforsaken traditions. The day after, they clean up the mess and try to forget the holiday assortment of exhaustion, disappointment, and debt. Then a year later, they do it all again.

When I say they, I mean us. Even in my community of Christians, it happens. We live up to our societal expectations, and it’s not such a bad thing, but we forget the immense reason for this season. The astonishing act of God coming down here. The ultimate gift for our redemption. The odd plan to offer our only hope through an infant who was, who is, God Himself. The awestruck wise men brought good gifts rich in symbolism of the newborn King’s royalty, His worth, and His future suffering. And now we gift each other with the trivial, soon broken or forgotten. Even when we offer a gift of great value, we’re expected to give again next year. ‘Tis the season, after all.

This year, I’ve heard it said that Jesus is the reason for all seasons. Not just Christmas, but every season. This is the time of year we send out cards embossed with Season’s Greetings, so what does it mean to declare that Jesus is the reason for all seasons? The four seasons—spring, summer, fall, and winter? The seasons of life—birth, childhood, adulthood, death? The years spent raising children is one season. Aging brings another season until one dies, leaving others to continue the seasons. All of life can be categorized into seasons. A nation can be born, and thrive, and then wane to less than it once was. Even the broad expanse of our universe, once new and seemingly endless, may shift into variable seasons of existence. Is Jesus the reason for all seasons?

If He is the reason for one season, for Christmas, then yes, He is the reason for all. Speaking of the Christ child, the dying Savior, victorious Redeemer, and soon returning King of kings and Lord of lords, Scripture proclaims:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

He is more than we can imagine. And yet this time of year we view Him simply as a baby. If we pay close attention, if we slow down, we will remember to behold the infant and celebrate with joy. What a wonderful gift God gave us.

Every season of our lives, of our world, gives us hope to know Him, to be redeemed by Him, to seek Him more, to worship Him, to cling to His love for us, to tell of His goodness, and to obtain His eternity. So in this merry season, especially when we’re caught up in the holly jolly of it all, we must fall to our knees before the manger and gaze at the shadow of the cross. And be awestruck by God’s immeasurable gift.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Darkness Interrupted

We all know it probably didn’t happen in December. The manger scenes we display on our tables or in our yards may not be an exact representation of the real thing. Our Christmas is more culture than conviction. While we’re shopping, baking, decorating, and even while we’re singing out with joy, we do well to keep in mind the awesome peculiarity of God’s gift. At the church I attend, we dedicate each Sunday night in December to singing about the great event that took place and changed the world. Our first evening service of the month brought a new song, one written and sung by a young church member.

The words of the song sank deep and reminded me that God didn’t have to send us a baby in a manger. That baby didn’t have to give up residency in Heaven and lay down in the dirt where animals slept. He could have stayed where He was and done one of two things—revealed to us in a loud voice that we must follow Him, or else just wiped us out.

But neither of those plans would have suited Him. He made us in His image, and so we can’t be obliterated—not really. He’s eternal, so we’re eternal. And using His outside voice isn’t exactly in His nature either. At least not when it comes to redeeming His children.

So did He have to come as a baby and live like a peasant and die like a criminal? We can’t answer that question. It’s what He did. He did it for us. He did it for Himself. But he could have just let it ride. We—the whole human race—would have burned ourselves out eventually and existed eternally apart from Him. That’s what would have happened if He didn’t do what He did.

The angels made an announcement that night—whenever it was.  “Good tidings of great joy.” And then a light came on. Maybe the whole sky lit up. Maybe the light burned in the hearts of those who heard the angels’ cry. Maybe it was just a low glow in the souls of all mankind. A spark to ignite future generations. A glimmer to remind creation that redemption had come at last. Whatever it was, our dark world got interrupted by His glory. Halleluiah. 

He could have left the light off—said, “Nobody’s home. Not for you, lost world.” But He didn’t.

Chorus from that new song—one I hope we hear again in our church next Christmas:
You could have stayed on high,
But you came into our night.
Came to give us light. Came to give us light. 
                                                   ( written by Beka Burns)