Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘incarnation’

Holding onto Christmas

I hate to take the Christmas tree down.  It never seems like I’ve enjoyed it enough yet, nor fully explored the wonder that Christmas holds—a loving God becoming man and coming to rescue us from our sin and its consequences.

Michael Card is a singer who goes a long way in capturing the miracle of the Incarnation with words like these: 

“Their (the prophets’) wildest dreams had simply not been wild enough.”

“Give up on your wondering.  Fall down on your knees!”

And then the life of those who choose to follow Him:

“…who belong to eternity, stranded in time…”

“There is a wonder and wildness to life, and freedom for all who obey…”

As the new year begins, I take the first step into a new chapter of that wild life of freedom, drawing ever nearer to the time when my heavenly Bridegroom will come for me and the whole journey will be oh so worthwhile!

What Are We Singing?

clip_image002Carolers appear at our gate every evening during this time of year. A few offer beautiful music, either vocal or instrumental.  Others beat on a can and shout something indecipherable, always followed by “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” That’s our cue to come out with a treat. 

Of all the standard Christmas carols, the two we hear are “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”  And one wonders, as the garbled words emerge from enthusiastic throats, do they understand what they’re singing?  Especially when it’s in English, which most of these children wouldn’t understand.  (I must say that it’s usually sung a second time in their own language.) 

Then I have to ask myself, do I really understand the same song when I sing it?  Do I think about it or does my mouth go on autopilot while I’m thinking about what’s for lunch?

Take this line from “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”: 
God and sinners reconciled.  Unpacked, these four words contain the whole story:

–A former perfect relationship between God and humankind
–People becoming sinful and separated from God
–God’s provision of the means to restore that relationship.

It was done by God setting aside His divine privilege for the sake of the estranged human race and becoming one of us!  Coming down and reaching out to pay the  death penalty we deserve and restore us to the place He intended for us when He made us.

What love!  This is why we celebrate.  Would you turn down such a gift?

christmas-gift-with-big-bow

That Precious Tiny Gift

If a very close loved one gives you a gift wrapped in a very small package, chances are it’s something very precious.  Over 2000 years ago the Creator and Father gave the world His most precious treasure wrapped in a very small package:  His Son in the form of a newborn baby.  His value was announced by angels and a star and acknowledged by a band of local Jewish shepherds, the lowest of their society—and then by a group of wealthy foreign scholars who had traveled for months just to trace down the newborn “King of the Jews.” 

Who was this baby that he commanded such attention by heavenly and earthy powers?  What can we say when the Creator of the universe visits his own  world semi-incognito in order to rescue them?  When the Infinite disguises Himself as a helpless baby?  Words fail.  That’s the wonder of the Incarnation—the mind-blowing truth that I struggle to grab hold of every Christmas season. 

Wrapped up in those strips of cloth was the fulfillment of all mankind’s hopes and dreams for love, joy, peace, purpose, justice, goodness, everlasting life, and more!  It was effected by the forgiveness made possible through that baby (now a man—the God-Man) voluntarily taking the punishment we so rightly deserved. This is God’s extravagant gift to humankind, which we celebrate this day. 

There are two things you can do with a gift: receive it or reject it.  To receive a costly gift implies a relationship with the giver.  The Creator and God of the universe extends to us the privilege of an intimate relationship with Him.

Or you can reject the gift.  Why do people reject precious gifts?  Maybe they don’t want to be tied down by a close relationship with the giver. Maybe they feel it would put them in an uncomfortable position of obligation.  Maybe they think they don’t need the gift. 

The gift of a relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ is offered to you.  Have you accepted it?  Can you afford not to?

The Biggest Questions

Today on a blog, I found a series of questions that everyone asks sometime in their life.

  1. Who am I?
  2. Why am I here?
  3. Where am I going?
  4. What is true?
  5. What is it you are really willing to do to live your life? 
            (
    Neil Thrussel’s blog, Best U Can B)

Also this morning, as I began reading the Gospel of John again, I wrote a suggestion at the top of the page for the sake of my granddaughter who will later receive this Bible, to watch for these key questions that arise repeatedly in this book:

Who is Jesus?
Where did he come from?
Where is he going?
(It also says a lot about truth.)

The answers were and are straightforward for anyone who believes Jesus’ own words about himself: 

Who is Jesus?  He is the Son of God who took on human nature in order to show humankind the face of God and then to take the punishment for our sins.

Where did he come from?  From heaven, born in Bethlehem as a human baby.

Where was he going?  Back to his Father.

Truth?  “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Quite simple, but impossible for those who chose not to believe.  As it still is today.

Now what about me?  Based on my relationship with Jesus, my answers would be much like his:

Who am I?  A much-loved child of God, saved from the well-deserved punishment for my sins.

Where did I come from?  God specially designed me before the world was made, chose me to be his, and skillfully put me together in my mother’s womb (Ephesians 1:4; Psalm 139).

Where am I going?  I am a citizen of heaven, and that’s where I will be going when this life is over. 

What is absolute truth?  God and His word is the source and standard of all truth.

That leaves us with the last question in the blog quoted above: 
What is it you are really willing to do to live your life? 

Do you dare to risk everything on the premise that Jesus Christ is who he says he is?  This means total commitment.  It means assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, presence and power for each day no matter what the circumstances.  It means citizenship in heaven where you will retire someday and fulfill all the dreams you ever dared to dream—and more!  What could be more important than that?

 

Undercover Boss

The other evening we watched, for the first time, an episode of “Undercover Boss.”  The CEO of a pretzel company changed his appearance and spent time at several of his franchises posing as a new employee.  His purpose was to really see the situation of the people who worked for him and how he might help and encourage them.  Getting up close with them, he experienced the difficulties they faced with transporting their goods, heard how hard it was to make ends meet or pay college debts.  He got to share their hopes and their fears, their struggles and their tears—and to appreciate and admire these hard workers.  With tears he expressed how he longed to help them!

At the end of the episode, these lowly laborers were summoned to the boss’s  beautiful office where the disguise was discarded.  The boss expressed his appreciation of their diligence and empathy for their difficulties.  Then each one was rewarded with gifts suited to his particular need—a vacation, payment of a debt, new equipment to make his work easier.  And finally, a huge hug for the faithful employee.

Are you beginning to see what I saw in this?  Jesus Christ …

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!               (Philippians 2:6-8)

Yes, He came as one of us, looked like us, hung out with us, suffered the difficulties we humans endure, got hungry and thirsty and tired, was lied about and mistreated—and ultimately killed—all for our good. 

–Not just to give us a vacation but an eternal home in heaven. 
–Not just to pay our college debts but to pay the penalty for our sin and grant us a clean slate to stand blameless before God. 
–Not just to give us new equipment to do our job but to live with and in us day in and day out—teaching, guiding, encouraging and giving joy and strength. 

And one day when I get to see my Boss face to face, the best reward will be to feel His arms around me as He whispers in my ear, “Good job, my faithful daughter!  Welcome to your heavenly home!”

Glitter or Glory

At Christmas we see plenty of glitter.  Our Christmas tree, for one.  And it’s fun.  I love gawking at all the lit-up yards, have always been attracted to sparkly things.  Glitter is man-made, and it fades sooner or later. 

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Glory is another thing.  It’s God-made.  This word applies to sunsets, sunrises, mountain grandeur, visions of God and angels, and the inspired songs that celebrate these things, such as Handel’s Messiah! These are real things which last. 

How much of our Christmas celebration focuses on glitter, and how much on glory?  Ours has both, but it’s the glory part that I crave.  I so long to be totally overwhelmed by the glory and wonder of the lasting truth of Christmas:  the Incarnation!

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Sublime Mystery

Since before I discovered Nancy Drew, I have loved mysteries.  A good “whodunit” intrigues me, though I can’t keep all the details of the plot straight enough to figure it out on my own. If it’s Agatha Christie, I just figure that the most unlikely party is actually the culprit.  And I’m happy to let the author reveal it all in the end.

I think the thing I love most about Christmas is the mystery of it.  How God could actually become human, born as an ordinary baby to normal people, slipping incognito into our world under cover of night in a most unlikely place, recognized only by those in whose ear God whispered the secret.  Or blasted it from an angel choir. 

And I wait with bated breath to see how the Author will work out His perfect plot in the end.  Showing all the world what is really Truth.  Defeating His enemies. Rescuing His beloved ones.  Reigning in glory on His throne forever—perfectly righteous, powerful, loving, wise and majestic—forever and ever!   

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

       This, this is Christ the King,
       Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
       Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
       The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

       Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
       The cross be borne for me, for you.
       Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
       The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

       Raise, raise the song on high,
       The virgin sings her lullaby.
       Joy, joy for Christ is born,
       The Babe, the Son of Mary.

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