Second, please note that this will be the last new post for Exploretumn this year - we're now in Advent. However, as sure as spring follows winter and summer follows spring, after the summer, Exploretumn will be back.
And so to this brief, closing post...
Last time, we looked at "The Way of Things." Of course, there are plenty of positive aspects of the world we enjoy, but we don't have to look far to see sadness and shame. It's a dark world. The shortness of the daylight hours at this time of year acts as a reminder that the suffocating darkness of sin is all around us. (And as we saw last time, even acting from within us.)
The prophet Isaiah sounded a clarion call of good news to the people of his day. It's a call which sounds with as much power in our generation as it did in his:
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2It's important to note here that the light doesn't come from the people, but from beyond them. The light emanates from God and is their only hope.
It is no accident that churches all over the world use this reading in their Christmas celebrations. In the birth of Jesus, we see God's light shining into the darkness. In Jesus, we see that God has not left us alone in our sin, but has come to rescue us and bring us home to himself. His love for us is completely undeserved, and some people actually reject it (to their loss), but for those who accept it, there is new life - the darkness is dispelled, the just sentence of death is revoked, and heaven's dawn breaks with forgiveness, healing and reconciliation.
At this time of year, we get excited about perfume or chocolates or computer-games or turkey. We rush around with decorations, cards, parties and gift-wrap. Tragically, and so easily, in the busyness of the season we can overlook what God has given us - yet, for a people in a world dominated by sin, God's gift is the most precious of all.
- Have you seen the light of hope shining in Jesus?
- Will he be the one present you're talking about when the decorations have come down?