- 9 and 10:45am, 5pm
I love the Advent and Christmas season…the decorations, the music, the cooler weather, the food, the gifts, the time with all 4 of our children at home. The list could go on and on. But for many this season can bring significant challenges and memories whether it be difficult family dynamics or the loss of loved ones or broken relationships. I lost both of my parents several years ago, and I still miss them so much…especially during the holidays. Some years the feeling of loss and sadness is greater than others. Their absence is felt more acutely when the family is together; new memories are being made; and I just wish they were here to join us.
Through Old Testament passages and prophecies read at this time of year such as Genesis 3, Isaiah 7, 9, and 11, and Micah 5, we see our Faithful, Loving God promising that He is going to turn this cursed world right-side up through a child born; he’s going to redeem and restore broken people, places, and things to life. In the Gospels, we hear the announcement of the angel to Mary and begin to see God’s plan for dealing with sin, brokenness, and death unfold. And finally, we read of the birth of Jesus and see the great love God has for us by sending his Son to redeem sinful and broken souls (including ours) and a sinful, dark, and broken world. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”– John 1
It is at Christmas with the birth of Jesus that the curse reversal process begins. Andrew Peterson has a song in his Behold the Lambthat has these lyrics: “Gather Round Ye Children Come…listen to the old, old story. Of the power of death undone by and infant born of Glory…Son of God, Son of Man.” That curse of death that began early in creation which we read of in Genesis 3 is undone by Christ the Savior whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. His resurrection, which we celebrate at Easter, confirms that purpose indicating that death, our enemy, no longer has the victory, and when Christ says “It is finished”we know that indeed curse reversal not only has begun but certainly will be complete…completed when He comes again. (“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”– Revelation 21). And we will dwell with Him in the new heavens and new earth…no more death or broken souls, bodies, or world. Curse reversal will be complete!
In a sermon preached to a German-speaking church in Havana, Cuba in 1930, Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke:“Now it is true that Christmas will come again. The great transformation will once again happen. God would have it so. Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world, a world will come in which the promise is given. All crying will be stilled. No tears shall flow. No lonely sorrow shall afflict us anymore, or threaten.”
But waiting for that promise is hard. Preacher Peter Marshall penned: “Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for to wait is often harder than to work.”WE DON’T LIKE TO WAIT.
We spend so much energy (physical, emotional, mental), our time, our resources on making things go faster/processes happen more quickly. We like quick fixes…and that’s not all bad. But what about the things you cannot make happen more quickly? What about the things you cannot fix and you wonder if and when they ever will be fixed because there appears to be no ready/easy solution in sight? The escalating tensions around the world, governments or businesses ravaged with corruption, sexual harassment, poverty, cancer, depression, birth defects, abuse, broken homes and marriages, death, your own personal struggles with sins that you just can’t seem to beat. We long for this brokenness to be fixed.
And that longing for sin and brokenness to be fixed or consoled is a good longing. Things are not the way they should be. At Christmas we celebrate that God the Son, Jesus, has come to make our new beginnings…to console our needs and the needs of our broken world. This is Good News for us!
As you wait, as you deal with your own sin and brokenness and the sin and brokenness of the world around you, and it is hard (almost unbearable at times), know this: “You are not alone.” Your pain, grief, and loss are yours, BUT you have brothers and sisters, who have experienced their own pain and loss, to share your pain with you, to believe in the promises of God for you when you can’t, to pray for you, to be with you. If you are struggling, please don’t go it alone. Talk to a pastor, your shepherd, a friend. It also may be helpful to talk with a professional counselor. Central has relationships with a number of licensed counselors and counseling centers. One of these is CrossRoads Christian Counseling Center, formally known as Central Christian Counseling, which our church supports as a local mission and with whom we’ve had a long-standing relationship since the late 1980’s. Christi Brandenstein and her team especially have been extremely helpful to our church during sme of these difficult days in this past year. And for their care and presence, we are grateful.
Friends, our restoration comes from God. Christ is all we need. He is totally sufficient to fix you and me and this broken world which we sing of at this time of year, “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Believe in Christ, the one who really came and overcame the sin and brokenness of the world by His life, death, burial and resurrection and the one who will come again. And that list of things about you or this world that you or others cannot fix…WILL BE FIXED. May we be consoled by Christ as we wait.