Saturday, December 20, 2008

the soul felt its worth...

have you ever woken up on december 26th and felt you missed something? the hustle and bustle of the season is over. if you were honest, the 25 plus day build up came crashing down and it was a bit disappointing. we went to church, saw our family, we got to be with people we love, we have a few new toys, we have mounds of trash and boxes, we ate and drank some christmas goodies at our feasts and parties and we now have a few extra pounds, and it is all over. what next? shouldn't this have felt different? did i miss something? the tree will soon come down, all the christmas decor will be put back up, our family will leave, we will return to work and our lives will feel a little empty. this is not how it should be. after all, as a christian this is like one of the 2 most important holidays of the year, right?

i have felt like this many a years. i try to pretend it is not how i feel. i just ignore it and press on, all the while looking back and thinking i have missed something. sure, i cling to the truth i know and i remember what i felt as we talked about it in church, but it seems anti-climatic. why?

i have my speculations and one is that i simply get so wrapped up in the traditions and fun of the season that i forget the real reason for christmas. now i know this has been my problem, but i have never seemed to be able to find a solution to this. so i try and talk more about christ, read luke 2 a lot, and go on to all my christmas parties. but that does not do it.

last year for the first time in a long time and maybe ever, i think i actually experienced the real meaning of christmas. no we did not get rid of all of our gifts, of course we went to parties (i even hosted a few of my own), i had fun decorating and i listened to fun christmas music 24/7. it started with a wake up call one sunday in church. we were singing o holy night and i was just singing along to this familiar christmas tune. then our pastor got up on stage and called us all out for just mouthing the words to this song without thinking about what it means. i mean when was the last time that the story of the birth of christ made me fall on my knees? read through the lyrics as a worship song and not a christmas carol.

o holy night
o holy night! the stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of the dear saviour's birth.
long lay the world in sin and error pining.
till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
a thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
fall on your knees! oh, hear the angel voices!
o night divine, the night when christ was born;
o night, o holy night, o night divine!
o night, o holy night, o night divine!

truly he taught us to love one another,
his law is love and his gospel is peace.
chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
with all our hearts we praise his holy name.
christ is the lord! then ever, ever praise we,
his power and glory ever more proclaim!
his power and glory ever more proclaim!

the difference was that for the first time i was pointed to and experienced the story of the birth of christ. i then went to see andrew peterson's behold the lamb of god tour. a friend insisted and even bought my ticket. i was a little skeptical, not because of his taste, but because i typically don't enjoy cheesy christian christmas plays, and i thought that is what this would be. but i could not have been more wrong. it is simply a series of songs that andrew peterson wrote that tell the story of the coming of christ from the old testament through luke 2. you have to really listen to the words, it is not mere background music. if you have not seen this, you must!! live is best, but if you cannot, you can buy the dvd or the music on itunes. i wept when i saw it the first time and i only got to see the dvd this year and i still teared up. it prepared my heart for christmas the most last year. here is one of the songs from it below.

deliver us by andrew peterson
our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the nile
our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand

our ankles bear no calluses from chains,
yet Lord, we're bound
imprisoned here,
we dwell in our own land


deliver us, deliver us
oh Yahweh, hear our cry

and gather us beneath your wings tonight

our sins they are more numerous
than all the lambs we slay

these shackles they were made with our own hands

our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give

so Yahweh, break your silence if you can

chorus (2x)

"jerusalem, jerusalem
how often i have longed
to gather you beneath my gentle wings"

i promise i am about to wrap this up, bear with me. this song and the song called labor of love bring me to tears every time. i cannot imagine what it was like when God was silent for so long. i cannot imagine the despair. during the easter season a few years ago i got to attend a sader supper (which is a jewish meal eaten during passover). we had someone explain to us all the meaning of each of the items we ate. there were lots of cool things that i can’t quite remember, but what i do remember was having an empty seat at each table. at the end, they told us that the empty chair was saved. saved for messiah in hopes that this would be the year he would come. he then said that traditionally they look at the empty chair and say, “no messiah this year.” The words, “no messiah this year,” made my heart sink. for the first time ever, i began to think about the despair and the despondency that they felt and i kind of felt it. There was no hope without messiah. god was silent and they were just waiting, hope waning i am sure.

i absolutely cannot imagine my life without jesus. as much as i take him for granted and do not understand the depth of all that he has done, i do understand the hope that i have in him. it is easy to be so familiar with this story that we forget the significance of what happened that night. we think about a few times as blow through the season, but we forget what that baby has delivered us from. i hope that this season, this truth resonates in your heart and he reveals more of himself to you. and that on december 26th you don't wake up in a depression that season is over, but rather wake up with a renewed love and passion for the one who came in a manger so that we night be delivered.


elizabeth said...

So well put, Becca. I needed to hear that. Again and again.

Meaghan said... i have been avoiding reading this b/c it is, um, long ;-) but i'm so glad i just did! thanks becca! it really makes me hope to see you soon!