"Jesus Christ the Savior, Emmanuel--God with us--is born today as a tender babe upon whom the Angels gaze with awe (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). The true light that enlightens every man coming into the world (John 1:29) has shone in the darkness of a poor stable, and the time of death and corruption is nearing its end. Solomon no longer has cause to exclaim that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles. 1:9), for this small child is the second Adam, who has brought a new creation, a new man, into being (Eph. 2:15; 4:24). Henceforth by following Christ, by obeying His commandments and by suffering with Him, in order to arise through Him, mankind is called to find immortality."
"We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Nationalism, Pragmatism and Sentimentalism are blinding the church to the reality that Jesus Christ came to bring a new way that would someday make the world unbroken, where God gets God's way on Earth as in Heaven.
John the Baptist testifies to this, "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth." Luke 3:5
The Virgin Mary proclaims this, "He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." Luke 1:51-53
"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his Christmas Sermons
Several months ago I was in Amsterdam and visited the home of Anne Frank, powerful and humbling. This summer Vicki and I listened to her diary on Audible.com, read by Selma Blair. Beautiful and troubling - an epic testimony from a teenage girl in the midst of the demonic environment of Nazism. Sobering, and yet, so filled with beauty and hope. I love this quote.
“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”
Some wise words from Jean Vanier during his acceptance speech for the 2015 Templeton Prize.
For peace, people must meet across differences. I say to meet people, not just to send them money and offer better professionals. All need to change. Fear must be changed into openness. Those on the rich side need to change and open their hearts to those on the other side. Those on the needy side also need to change; from anger, anguish, depression and a sense of being victims of a society, they must become agents of hope and of love.…It is only as we meet and share together person to person, eye to eye, and heart to heart that we discover what it means to be human and to discover the joy of being together, working together towards a common mission of peace and unity. It is only moving from winning and loneliness to collaboration, and from hostility to seeing enemies as friends, that we discover the real meaning of peace.
"How easily we forget that the church was founded by disciples who betrayed their master. None was willing to stand by Jesus as the religious and political authorities condemned him to death. At his moment of greatest need, the disciples fled in the darkness. The boldest of the lot, Peter, was the very one who cursed and denied him three times before the cock crew. It was for traitors that Jesus died." Philip Yancey, Source: Soul Survivor Daily Dig
The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him? Martin Luther, Watch for the Light, Daily Dig, December 16, 2015
“Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that we pursue it wholeheartedly.” David Farland, Science Fiction Writer, as quoted in Daily Dig, November 23, 2015