Wednesday, December 21, 2011
This Stuff Ought To Be Old By Now
Christmas is getting “old hat” don’t you think? I mean every year the same old stuff; the children’s programs, caroling, the same texts from Scripture. Haven’t we heard this story enough, don’t we know it by now?
There is (unfortunately) one thing that always make the story fresh, immediately relevant, astonishingly “on time.” It is the moment of getting caught in my sin, that moment of conviction from the Holy Ghost, that moment my conscience is crushed with how evil my heart most recently has been. I cannot speak for what seems to me to be the satisfied smugness of the spiritually unaware, those who feel as if their “saint-ness” was all they want to know about themselves, those that can't identify with indwelling sin. I confess to suspecting “denial” somewhere in the psychology, even if covered over with theological rationalization.
I am very (and not yet fully) aware and grateful for the status of being one of God’s Holy Ones. I revel in the righteousness of Christ. I hide emotionally, spiritually, psychologically in the advocacy of the One who died for me, who justifies, who is for me. But this is no historic memory for me, not an old accomplishment, not something I look back to simply as a word of testimony now growing faded as time has traveled on.
However you may want to explain the presence of continuing sin, the potential for falling, the reality of falling, the sudden lustful thoughts, the sudden ability to attempt to shut God up, to pretend he isn’t around or watching, the rationalization of pride and ego, self-pity, anger, revenge, resentment, hatred, or materialistic self-centeredness; it is here inside of me.
As I said, unfortunately, it is partly this which makes Christmas so imminently relevant for me. Yes, it is too the favor of God that rests upon me, but part of that favor is his consistent and tenacious choice to forgive me, to constantly forgive me of my sins. This is why he was named Jesus, this is what he came to do, and this is what he does. This is indeed what I need, and why I am so brokenly grateful for the surprised and struggling pregnant young woman on her way to Bethlehem, for having her baby in a barn and wrapping him up in cloths and laying him in a feeding trough for animals. I am grateful for the One who was rich yet became poor for my sake, so that through his abandoned humiliation in emptying himself and not holding on to that which was rightly his he gave me something which is not rightfully mine at all. I have a foreign righteousness, I wear another’s clothes, and they are bling but not cheap.
This year again I need them so very desperately but thank God (and let whatever moving and powerfully expressive music fill your soul at this point) they have been given to me and maybe to you as well. I intend to wear this present not only to church but everywhere I go and maybe, even in front of the mirror of my conscience to tell myself, “I sure do look good in the clothes Jesus gave me.”