The Advent season is a time of anticipation, waiting, and preparation. During the month of December, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages and characters connected with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us.
I think that taking life seriously means something like this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation… of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. (Ernest Becker, The Denial of Death)
READ THE WORD: ISAIAH 9:1-2, 6-7 (ESV)
9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
If we are honest, we know deep within our bones the truth of Becker’s words. There is a pervasive terror that permeates our lives, and we do everything to run from its looming presence. We indulge. We cheat. We work. We fatten ourselves on the empty luxuries of our culture. We have denied death, and in so doing we have denied life. We have surrounded ourselves with a false illumination that is drowning out the possibility for us to be warmed by the rays of the rising Son.
This Advent season, I urge you with every fiber of my being, “Let there be darkness.” Smash the idols and declare war on yourself. Allow your inner being to embrace the chaos and fragility of this broken world. Refuse the hollow seduction of worldly comfort. Lean into the pain and confusion of reality because, make no mistake, we are still a people who walk in darkness. God’s story is still unraveling…
Isaiah’s words should haunt us, even as they are the only words that can provide relief, “For unto us a child has been born.” The King of the Universe has thrown himself down into the madness. He has felt for himself the rumble of panic underneath everything. Indeed, he has burst forth from his mother’s womb with the same scream of distress as you did, and has been wrapped in death’s clothes with his head in a tomb.
Do not misunderstand the narrative. This tiny and eternally innocent newborn is our Maker. He bears the wounds of our transgressions, so that he might light us ablaze with love for a shattered world. My fellow travelers, this is the context of Christmas. Our King has invited us to become burning beacons of hope in a bleak and black world. Let us step into the dark together, so that we all may discover the Light.