Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas ~ The Year of Our Lord 2015


On Tuesday, I was privileged to spend an entire afternoon and evening attending a fellow church member’s funeral. A husband, a father of eleven children, a grandfather, and a friend of many, he was a man flawed and imperfect -- saved by the grace of God in Christ alone -- and humbly and faithfully using his gifts for the strengthening of the body of Christ. It’s incredible to spend over three hours at a funeral service while family member after family member and friend after friend is sharing about, grieving, and celebrating the valleys, the mountain tops, and the heritage of a race well run.

And it’s Christmastime.


The merriment of Christmas does not gloss over the pain-filled voice of the widow crying out to her God, or the aching tears of the now fatherless. Christmas does not deny the darkness and terror and death pervading God’s good creation. Christmas is because of it… because of the suffering, the violence, the sin. Our sin. 


On that very first Christmas there was emotional travail and the physical discomfort of travel and the pain of a girl in child labor and then the murder of three hundred innocent children. 


To quote from The Christian Imagination, edited by Leland Ryken, “To many North Americans… Christianity seems soppy. That is because they have not seen the real goods. True Christian imaging meets violence head-on, mine and the world’s, but also God’s. The Christian imagination… must face the reality of Job’s cry, the cry of God’s crucifixion, and of our participation in it. Once this is recognized, faith becomes not only possible, but necessary; it can never again be rose-water belief in Santa Claus.”


In John 11:35, outside Lazarus’s tomb, we read, “Jesus wept.” The famous, shortest verse in the Bible and one that can be both puzzling and ambiguous. Was He weeping out of sympathy with all the present mourners? Yes, surely that, too, but (more properly translated) the Greek word would be “raged.”

In the words of B.B. Warfield: “Inextinguishable fury seizes upon him (Christ)… It is death that is the object of his wrath, and behind death him who has the power of death, and whom he has come into the world to destroy. Tears of sympathy may fill his eyes, but this is incidental. His soul is held by rage: and he advances to the tomb, in Calvin’s words… “as a champion who prepares for conflict.”…What John does for us in this particular statement is to uncover to us the heart of Jesus, as he wins for us our salvation. Not in cold unconcern, but in flaming wrath against the foe, Jesus smites in our behalf. He has not only saved us from the evils which oppress us; he has felt for and with us in our oppression, and (with those) feelings has wrought out our redemption.”


Our Warrior, our Kinsmen Redeemer, coming in the flesh, coming to give Himself over to pain and agony and death, coming and advancing on the foe in a white hot heat of passion for His chosen ones. 


Fighting through the tearing thorns and waiting darkness, our Great Prince has woken His Sleeping Beauty. 

Our St. George has come, tearing His bride from the ripping jaws and fiery flame of the dragon. 


This is grace.

We’re warriors on the verge of battle -- taking a breath in the trenches -- and our merriment’s no gilded bauble. Joy springing from the deep laughter of God -- that deep laughter shaking the depths of the oceans and upending the world -- it’s both a weapon and an uncontainable joy. 

Merry Christmas!!


16 comments:

  1. This was both poignant and beautiful. Merry Christmas!

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    1. Ruth,
      Thank you so much for your kind words... and I hope you had a lovely Christmas!!

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  2. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

    Merry Christmas, Heidi!!

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  3. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, and may he rest in peace.

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Heidi! It's such a wonderful reminder of what this day is all about.

    Have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

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    1. jessica,
      You're welcome and thank you so much!! I'm glad it was a blessing.

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  4. Merry Christmas, my dear friend!
    And oh...what a beautiful post. It had me tearing up in spots. I want to share this with everyone I know. It's sad how in this day and age, Jesus is sometimes remembered only for His kindness and love-which, while very important parts of his character, is not the whole story. We forget his power and might and, as you said, that he is Our Warrior.
    Thank you for this beautiful post, Heidi!!! It gave me much to think about. :) Merry, MERRY Christmas!

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    1. Natalie,
      Thank you, my friend!!! I'm so glad you found it thought-provoking. (Your comment made me happy... ;)) And YES!!

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  5. This is breathtakingly beautiful, Heidi. Really. It is so evident in your posts that you have a truly God-given talent, and thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

    Merry Christmas, dear friend!!! :D

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    1. Olivia,
      Ohhhh... wow. Your kind words are such an encouragement. :) THANK YOU, friend!!

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  6. "Kinsmen redeemer" - I love that! Reminds me of my Nancy Leigh DeMoss' Bible studies. :)

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    1. Sarah,
      YES!! One of my favorite phrases... ;D (And was that the Bible study you were working through earlier this year?? The name isn't quite ringing a bell, though, so I have a feeling I'm wrong... :P)

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  7. Replies
    1. Hamlette,
      Truly, we serve an incredible Lord. :)

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  8. This was beautiful, Heidi! Thank you for sharing. Jesus' love for us is so strong and so powerful and so deep, we can't even begin to comprehend it. I like what you said about our merriment not being a gilded bauble. That is so true. We all go through pain in this world. And it's not lack of pain nor lack of hardship that gives us joy, it's God alone. I'm so glad that our happiness depends on Him and not on our circumstances, because circumstances change, but He never does. :)

    Merry Christmas, Heidi!!

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    1. Miss March,
      Thank you!! And yes, joy... the kind of joy that can go through fire and water and pain and dark agony -- growing in all of it -- can only spring from our great God Himself. :)

      Merry 9th Day of Christmas!! ;)

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Oh, you're thinking of leaving a comment! How entirely lovely -- thank you and please do!! :) I just ask that all comments be God-honoring and edifying. (And btw, I LOVE comments on old posts! ;))

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