Wednesday, December 21

a toast

It's that time of year, and Blair, the boys and I are at my parent's for the Christmas holiday. I'm not sure whether it's from eating all of the Christmas goodies laying about, or simply because I'm 21 weeks pregnant now, but I'm definitely entering the "cannot-sit-up; flop-over-like-a-beached-whale" phase of pregnancy.

It's a different kind of Christmas this year. Christmas 2010 was heartbreaking, and I really wondered if I would ever enjoy Christmas the way I always have (it is my favorite holiday). Of course, in the course of 2011 we became foster parents and are also prego, so this year was bound to include joy. This year I've been able to cook, shop, wrap, and scheme with gusto.

I would say though, that the more life repeats after infant loss (holidays, birthdays, traditions, etc.) the more convinced I become that what I am indeed waiting for is Heaven itself. Everything here has and will continue to fall short of the glory that is to be revealed. I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that even the best things, the most beautiful joys that this Earth can hold still have a bit of a feeling of "not quite full" to them. I stay held in a longing spirit, which is what I believe the Lord wants in us. (I do want to clarify that it's possible -- and commanded -- to be content while in the longing.)

I've been meditating a lot on the Christmas story, particularly the angels proclamation to the shepherds. When you keep in mind that angels are messengers, soldiers who are sent to obey and execute the will of their commanding officer, it changes the way you read their speech. This was exactly what God wanted to communicate to the world. These are His chosen words, carefully scripted to portray the exact birth announcement of Jesus. Doesn't that amaze you?

 "That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” 
Luke 2:8-14

Here's my observations/thoughts:

1. Angels generally always have to tell people not to be afraid of them - maybe they don't want them to faint or run away and miss their message?
2. It was to tell GOOD news that the angel appeared.
3. This good news was intended for every person, everywhere.
4. The good news was full of JOY.
5. The Savior - the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for had arrived.
6. The angel clarified that the Savior was born in Bethlehem - a fulfillment of prophecy.
7. He gave a specific description of where they would find the Savior.
8. (And this is my favorite part) The armies of Heaven suddenly appeared, bursting to praise God.
9. Giving God glory, they made two statements: God is in highest Heaven.
10. And on Earth there are people with whom He is pleased, who will experience peace.

That was God's great proclamation. After years and years of waiting, of prophecy foretold and the expectation of an entire nation - this is what God announces: "I have come. I have answered you. I'm perfectly fulfilling every word I have ever given you. I'm bringing you a joy you could never have imagined, and peace that surpasses your comprehension. I am bringing fullness, completeness, and forgiveness to you. Go and see."

If you read back a little bit in Luke, you'll uncover Zechariah's prophecy over his son, John. John was going to be Jesus' town crier - he would announce, proclaim, convict, and work to prepare the hearts of the Israelites for Jesus' ministry. This is what Zechariah says:

“And you, my little son,
      will be called the prophet of the Most High,
      because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
 You will tell his people how to find salvation
      through forgiveness of their sins.
 Because of God’s tender mercy,
      the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
      and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Luke 1:76-79

That's rich to me. That encourages my heart to know that the whole reason I am celebrating with gifts, and lights, and deliciously fattening food is because Christ, the morning Light, came to bring light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us into peace. I hope that is encouraging to you, and helps to refocus your heart from the materialistic and misguided hype of the holiday. 

A few years ago I was in a small group that would take communion every time we met. And when we did communion, it changed the way I viewed a tradition that had grown old in me. We had FULL glasses of grape juice, not the mini sips you get at church. And we took large chunks of bread, savoring them and enjoying the food-picture that it created - Christ isn't just a little bit to be enjoyed here or there. He isn't a tiny cracker or sip of juice that leaves you hungry for lunch. Christ is all satisfying! He is completely filling. He meets every need. And as we took communion, we would raise our glasses and "toast to Jesus". 

So this morning I raise my cup of coffee to you, Lord, and declare, "To Jesus! The great Joy, the Light for those in darkness, the Desire of every nation!"  


  1. I've been meditating on Peace this Christmas season and have realized how much I disregard the peace Christ came to give me by taking it for granted and not embracing it - with all it's implications. I appreciated your breakdown of the angel's message, specifically #10. :)

    Brad and I are thrilled for you! Congratulations friends! We will be praying for your new little one. :)

    Merry Christmas!!

  2. "the most beautiful joys that this Earth can hold still have a bit of a feeling of "not quite full" to them." i loved this quote ...

    to Jesus! :)