A Father’s Song
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” [Luke 1:76-79]
These words from Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) remind us that the coming of baby Jesus has many implications for faith, life, and death. Advent is not only the season of anticipation of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem. It is also the season that looks ahead both to the power of salvation accomplished in Christ’s death and resurrection and to his eventual second coming. The nativity sets that we display in homes and churches orient us to the present and future–not just to the distant Bethlehem past.
It seems gloomy to think of death during such a traditionally festive season. And yet among the wonderful things about Christ is that he fills our lives with his own life so that he brightens our lives now and grants us eternal life.
A Matter of Perspective
When I was little, a friend lived about three small-town blocks from our elementary school. Some days, I’d walk home with him after school and we’d have adventures at his house before my mom picked me up for supper.
I remember one autumn when we played in the fallen leaves in the little park across the street. My friend buried me in leaves as I lay face down in a ditch. What fun to “splash” around in the brown, yellow, and red leaves! My mom was displeased, because I’d gotten so dirty.
For adults, the shed leaves are a sign of death, and a chore to rake and discard. Children, on the other hand, see these same dead leaves as a chance to be happy and to live more fully. As believers, we are conscious of eventual death, but faith in Jesus gives us the chance to live more fully and to “leap” happily into faith analogous to the way children leap into piled-up leaves.
Joy in a Gray Month
In Advent, days are often gray and most of the trees are barren. But there is much beauty in this season. Death does not have the last word: new life is to come. We can feel great happiness in Christ’s eternal life during this season of transitions and promise.
Dr. Paul Stroble paulstroble.com
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