Saturday, December 31, 2005

Advent: Not So Silent Night

Did you realize that Advent continues through January 7th? Yup.

Today Phil Yancey (in Watch for the Light) looks at the incongruency of the warm and fuzzy Christmas cards he receives and the reality of what was taking place when Jesus was born. He says...

Sorting through the stack of cards that arrived at our house...I noted that all kinds of symbols have edged their way into the celebration. Overwhelmingly, the landscape scenes render New England towns buried in snow, usually with the added touch of a horse-drawn sleigh. On other cards, animals frolic: not only reindeer but also chipmunks, raccoons, cardinals and cute gray mice...And yet when I turn to the gospel accounts of the first Christmas, I hear a very different tone, and sense mainly disruption at work...

Yancey delineates the political unrest at the time and how even Mary's song refers to rulers being thrown down and proud men being scattered. He said that in contrast to what the cards imply, Jesus being born did not make life better or simpler. In fact, for Mary, becoming an unwed pregnant teenager was only the beginning of her trials.

Then Yancey looks at the book of Revelation where the birth of Jesus is talked about in apocalyptic terms. When God's child is born the devil's space is invaded and a mighty battle begins in the heavens. So, whether on earth or in heaven, Jesus' birth did not bring such a silent night at the song says.

As Jesus said himself, he didn't come to bring peace but a sword. His presence was never meant to lull us to sleep but to call us to action. What action has his coming prompted in you?

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