05 December 2016

Paradoxes of Christmas

Christ is the morning star
Who when the night of this world is past
Brings to his saints the promise of the light of life
And opens everlasting day.

- Bede

I hold onto a quiet life. A home that promotes rest and peace, with time to rejuvenate after long days. I cherish details of a place, including conversation and atmosphere. I linger over cups of tea and coffee as I read. I avoid drama and controversy. If something new comes along, I usually do not jump in right away. I need to see how it is going to be good. I don't seek to make anything change, and yet change comes anyway. I long for certain things to stay the same or go back to how it was when some particular thing was good. But, to my chagrin, we are all guaranteed that change is the promise we get. It shall come.

I am one who does not always deal well with change. Some changes are easy to go along with, while others really tug at me for a long time. Internally, I go over and over, rolling it around in my head until I am exhausted. Then, I feel defeated. If I can prepare, I would like to. I like to think thoroughly, muse thoughtfully, and transition slowly when it comes to bigger things. I like to know the rational behind the change. I have the tendency to create certain expectations in my mind that usually do not become reality, or that I fear could be become reality. I suppose (I hope?) I am not alone in this.

I take comfort in some knowledge from the past. The world wasn't very good at handling change, either, when Jesus came to earth. He didn't meet expectations, he shattered them. He didn't come to rule over all, overthrow leaders and become king, but to serve and die. Yes, our King did create quite a change. The very best change came to us, and it was resisted.

When Jesus was here, meeting people and changing the way they do everything, it threw everyone off. He changed the importance of routine atonement by sacrifice by becoming the sacrifice himself, on our behalf. He promoted love above all, no matter what nationality the other person was. He, a humble carpenter, spoke with authority as if he was speaking from God or something. No one else had ever done such things.

This season of Advent is the time for preparation of the coming of Jesus, but in these days before the light, we are cast into darkness, which is essential for the story. The days here grow shorter, and by late afternoon the sun is already setting, which enters us into a season marked by darker times. It seems interesting that it works out that way, appropriately placed for our hearts and minds to turn in that direction as nature leads us that way.

The paradoxes of this season are numerous, and studying them helps us appreciate every nuanced moment of dark days when we choose to take time away from the hurry and rush of a holiday season that wants you to jump in before Thanksgiving. It should, instead, be a gradual movement, a thought-filled process of entering into Advent darkness of the unknown but hopeful future that suddenly breaks out into the most wondrous light of life that comes in Jesus.

Prepare your heart, and the change won't hit you with such force that it cracks you open. But if it does, look at it more intently and perhaps you might see how it could be for good. Maybe it is letting the light in.

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