Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Heavens Declare

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 19:1

My kids and I got to see something very cool this morning on the way to the bus stop. It was several shooting stars, one of which was very bright. I’ve never seen a shooting star before today, and we all stood there in amazement, shouting, “That is SO cool!” as we watched the sky this morning before the sun came up. One of the few things that makes walking to the bus stop not so bad in the dark morning hour is how bright the stars are here. We live in a place where you can actually see lots of stars, and I love it.

Turns out, as a friend let me know, what we were seeing was the Geminid meteor shower, which is supposed to peak tonight. I’m thinking I’d like to try to see it. 

Anyway, walking home from the bus stop, scanning the starry sky, I got to pondering about creation and how beautiful and somewhat terrifying it is. When I was in college, I took an astronomy class for one of my science credits, along with the required lab class. During lab, we had several nighttime exercises when we were required to trek out to the dark part of campus where the telescopes were, and we had to find certain things and view them. I still get eery chills remembering how I felt looking at Saturn through the telescope and seeing its rings. It’s one thing to look at a picture, but to look through the telescope and know that you’re actually looking at the real thing hanging way out there in the silence of space is somehow overwhelming and just a bit frightening to me. I think I felt that way because space, the universe, is just so vast and mysterious and huge and OUT THERE, and when I get to thinking about how huge it all is, it is almost more than I can comprehend and I don’t know the word for the kind of uncomfortably awestruck feeling it gives me. Then I start pondering God and the fact that He spoke all of that into existence from nothing. How vast, how measureless, how awesome must our God truly be. 

And when you ponder that for a bit, and then you start thinking about His eternality, that He has always been with no beginning or end, if that doesn’t start making your mind spin and make you feel a sense of awe like you’ve never known, then think about this: That God, who is so immense and awesome and, let’s face it, terrifying, had the compassion to send His Son, to put on human flesh and walk among us, and to rescue us from our helpless state of sin and rescue us from our terror and enable us to love and worship Him. 

He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust. 

He is God With Us - Immanuel - and the angels spoke of His glory to the shepherds in the fields on the night when Jesus was born as Immanuel, Redeemer, the God who saves men from their sin. And then He grew, He lived as fully God and fully man, no sin, perfectly in submission to the will of the Father, perfectly fulfilling the Law of righteousness that every single one of us has broken in a vast number of ways, and He preached the good news of the Kingdom that He had come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

And when His creation, His people to whom He came but who knew Him not, crucified Him, Jesus, the glorious, perfect Lamb of God, He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!” Have you ever pondered the riches and immensity of that? The One who holds all things together, through whom and for whom all things were created, and He hung on a cross, put there by the very people  whose breath depends upon Him, and He cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Deep, and rich, and amazing grace, almost more than I can comprehend. (Read Colossians 1:15-23!!!)

He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust. 

His immense love, mercy, and grace are amazing. He died, taking the wrath and shame that are rightfully ours, we wandering sheep who every one has gone its own way and been the enemy of God, and He purchased redemption for those who would place their trust in Him alone.  He rose again, the veil of the temple having been torn in two from top to bottom, His sacrifice the final and perfect and only effective sacrifice for sin, and He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for those who belong to Him in repentant, trusting faith.

And we know all of this because, not only did He give us the heavens, which declare His glory, testifying in terrible beauty to the evidence of an all-powerful Creator, but even more, He gave us His Word. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and in His mercy and grace, He gave us the Scripture so that we could know Him, love Him, repent before Him and worship Him, because that truly is what is best for us. 

He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust.

Why would we neglect to read and ponder and search the scriptures which make us wise unto salvation? He is not silent, and He speaks to us through His word. The heavens declare His glory, and His word reveals His story to us, His will for us, and His love for us. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

What an awesome God. How deep, how vast, how measureless are the depths of His love toward His people. How deep and vast and measureless is the gospel when we begin to peer into its glorious depths. 

How thankful I am for the chance glimpse of a meteor shower this morning, which turned my attention to the glory of the One who created that meteor shower and who is giving me life everlasting through His Son. 

You can see information about the meteor shower at this link.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Fair Warning:

The following post is purely a rant, and if you don’t want to hear my strong opinion, walk away now. 

Fair warning: 

I'm done. 

We don't Santa during our Christmas celebrations at our house. We never have. It's just not part of our traditions and celebration, for reasons that are thought out and considered and on purpose. 

In the past, because of an incident I wrote about here, I've bent over backwards trying to prepare my youngest and help her know what to say or not say around her friends who believe in Santa so as to not be obnoxious to them. But, as of right now today, I'm done with it. With sadness and regret I realize today that in my misguided attempt at practicing being a ‘good neighbor’ with all my being so careful to prepare my daughter and help her know what to say, I found out today all I've done is totally confuse her. 

And, no offense to anyone meant, but that matters more to me than shattering someone’s belief in a lie. I am fighting tears at the moment for being so foolish as to make a bigger issue of this with my daughter than it EVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN. By making it an issue, I’ve blown it up into a big deal, when that is the exact opposite of what I meant to be doing. Lesson learned.

Today I told her she can and should talk about Santa however she wants to, I don't really care if people get mad at us anymore. She shouldn't have to lie when her friends start talking about their Christmas celebrations, and I found out today that she felt like that's what I'd been telling her to do. It wasn't, but she's now extremely confused. I’m done confusing her. Her friends can talk about their Elf on the Shelf and their Santa all they want, she should be able to talk about her Christmas traditions without a muzzle, too. So, I told her, no lying. Don’t argue with people, don't intentionally bring up Santa's truth or not truth, but just be honest about how you celebrate Christmas.

Now for the true confession:

I really don’t like Santa the way we do it in America, and I HATE the movie, "The Polar Express." Shocker there, I’m sure. If that makes me a Grinch, so be it. Bah Humbug and all that. I think it’s wrong to lie to our kids. For all the griping about “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” and “Holiday Trees” and whatnot, you know what I think? I don’t give one little rip whether someone says, “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” to me in the store or out around town - both end up feeling really forced anyhow, most of the time, and I'll smile and say, "Thank you," or "Have a nice day," and take no offense either way. I don't get all pushed out of shape if someone says, "Happy Holidays." And I don’t even care if they are silly enough to call what is obviously a “Christmas” tree a “Holiday” tree or call the RED and GREEN cake mix “Holiday” confetti cake when Christmas is the only RED and GREEN holiday I’m aware of. You know why? Because most of America isn’t really celebrating Christmas anymore, anyway. Most of America is celebrating the secularized, materialistic version with no room for Jesus - so let them have their “Holiday,” and happy on ‘em. 

I, for one, will continue to celebrate Christmas, and choose to enjoy it with my family in the way in which we choose. And I’m DONE apologizing and tiptoeing about Santa and worrying about offending over a lie. I don’t say that with rancor or anger, though I realize it probably reads that way. 

I’m just done making an issue where there shouldn’t have been one. I messed up, well-intentioned though I may have been, and I’m done with that.