Saturday, December 4, 2010

The second Sunday of Advent

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given …

Last night for some reason I started thinking of all my Christmases; the sad ones, the joyous ones, the just plain fun ones. I remember a Christmas when my Dad took our wagon across an icy stream, with my sisters and I bundled up, sitting on the wagon floor. We cut down one of our own pine trees and decorated it with crepe paper and popcorn. There were sleds for Christmas, and something extra for each of us. My extra was a toy nurse’s kit because until I found out that science wasn’t my favorite subject I thought I wanted to be a nurse.

If my Mom and Dad gave us a doll it was usually sitting unwrapped under the tree, just like a new baby born on Christmas morning. And there was always, bowls of fragrant oranges, the ribbon Christmas candies that come in many colors, and different kinds of nuts.

Now, each year, after Christmas I wrap our decorations in tissue paper and place them in a box and write on the top “for a holy Christmas” and then I put the next year’s date. So many memories are boxed up. There is the tiny fading tin Santa that belonged to my husband’s mother, Juanita, also her little porcelain angel that is a bell that rings. The kids use to fight over who would hang that one.

There is also the little gold colored train with a red setting that Juanita brought to hang on the tree just three days before she would die on a snowy, sleety road in a terrible car accident near Bend, Oregon. There is so much in that box.

Juanita was a young teenager during the years of the depression and the dust bowl. She traveled with her family from Oklahoma to California, living in a tent with her family. Her mother worked in the canneries in Monterey and her father; he was a hard evil man, an occultist, who helped put together the Egyptian museum in San Jose. He was proud and arrogant making his children suffer in ways that are inappropriate and impossible to write about.

But Juanita found some peace and joy in the Lord when she became a Christian. And that is what Christmas is about, finding life in the Lord Jesus Christ. Joy, sorrow, happiness in a box of ornaments, but it all circles around Jesus and the great gift he has given with his birth at Bethlehem, his life, death and resurrection.

Bonhoeffer, using Isaiah 9:6-7 writes of all the different aspects of Christ’s identity. He spoke in a sermon:

What kings and statesmen, philosophers and artist, religious leaders and moral teachers have labored for in vain is now brought about by a new born child. Here a child, born in the midst of world history, has put to shame the wisdom and efforts of the strong. A child, born of a human mother, a Son given by God. That is the secret of the salvation of the world. All the past and all future is here encompassed. The unending comfort of the almighty God comes to us, humbly and in the form of a child, his Son. That this child is born, for us, given for us, that this human child, God’s Son, belongs to me, that I know him, have him, love him, that I am his and he is mine, means that now my life depends only on him. A child has our life in his hands.[1]

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, Editor and translator, Edwin Robertson, Zondervan (Christmas 1940)

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