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Friday, Dec 15 | Searching for Christmas

Editor's Note

About the author: 
Greg Rankin and his wife Dinah have been members at ZPC since 2009. They have a daughter in college and a son in high school. Greg is a Deacon, he is involved in planning for the ZPCMens ministry, and serves on the Str8up Ministry Team. 

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Mystery | Isaiah 40:18, 21-25

To whom then will you liken God,
    or what likeness compare with him?

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to live in;
who brings princes to naught,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows upon them, and they wither,
    and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
To whom then will you compare me,
    or who is my equal? says the Holy One.

When I was maybe 5 years old, my wise and aware mother came out to our living room at what was probably 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. on Christmas morning to find me poking and shaking every present under the tree. The mystery was killing me! Isn’t it interesting the way we seem to come pre-wired with a desire to solve the mysteries around us. Turn on your TV or look at a list of literary bestsellers. Mysteries abound.

In Isaiah 40:18 the prophet asks, “With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him?” For God is truly a mystery to which nothing compares. He came to us in the form of a man. A humble man offering us his grace, forgiveness, and redemption, if only we will accept these gifts. This God who “stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in,” and who “brings princes to naught  and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing,” is the same God who chose to die for each of us, so that we might be able to dwell with him for eternity.

In this season of Advent as we wait; as we anticipate; as we dwell on the mystery of our Savior; it is fascinating to see how we chase so many Christmas illusions when what we clearly desire is to see his face. Certainly the children all around, as well as the child in each of us, loves the mystery of that gift under the tree. But isn’t there so much more? The magic of the lights, the sparkle on the tree, the sounds of those favorite Christmas songs. The excitement and wonder that these things stir in us seem to be too great and to run too deep to be only about the cookies and gifts. Is it not truly the wonder of his coming on that sparkling starry night that fills our souls and imagination? Is it not the hope for tomorrow? For the “not yet,” that keeps us searching?  

So search. Spend time being in awe and wonder. Be swept away by the mystery of our Lord and the miracle of his birth. And then let the light and sparkle of that wonder in your heart be seen by a searching world.

Prayer

Lord,

I thank you for coming as you did. As a man and as a father who wants a real relationship with each part of me. Thank you for your love and for your grace, and please help me to share those gifts with the people in my life. You are truly a mystery Lord, but I cherish that mystery and love you with all of my heart, and mind and soul.

Amen.

Posted by Greg Rankin with

Thursday, Dec 14 | Embracing the mystery

Editor's Note

About the author: 
Angela Bourff is a 2nd grade elementary teacher in Zionsville. She has been attending ZPC since 2005 and became a member in 2011. Angela serves as a Deacon and as the ZPC Wedding Coordinator. She has 2 dogs she adores as well as a nephew and 2 nieces (with 1 more on the way!).

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Mystery | Luke 2:15-20

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Being a public elementary school teacher brings a steady dose of mystery pretty daily in my life. Will everyone remember their homework? Will this group understand how to tell time as quickly as last year’s class? What will I do to make sure we are focused on learning, rather than singing and dancing around the room, just in case an administrator decides to “pop in” to see what we are doing? How will I make sure I am shining God’s light each and every day without being able to shout across the room about all of God’s Grace? 

I often think about what it would be like to have a career with less mystery. A position that has the same routine day in and day out. I just can’t see myself in a field without any mystery waiting for me as soon as I wake each morning. I think having a “mystery” facing me, is how God made me to be able to act quickly on my feet, to problem solve, and even to make every day a new adventure. 

As we continue in the Advent season, I have been pondering a few of the mysteries that may have surrounded the arrival of a baby that was sent to save us all. So many mysteries were occurring with the anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. I imagine Mary and Joseph were overcome with the “mystery” of why they were chosen to raise the baby? Yet we don’t hear of their hesitation to stop and think about it.  They put their trust in God and became a very significant part of history. The shepherds were surely thinking what a “mystery” that our savior had been born in a manger? But did they stop to question each other and discuss amongst their flock this peculiar place to have a baby? According to the Bible, “When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph.  And there was the baby, lying in the manger.” Luke 2:15-16  Even King Herod was trying to solve the “mystery” of where the Messiah was to be born “Then he told them [the wise men], “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” Matthew 2:7-8  While each of these mysteries, and so many more, were taking place, the only thing the people could do was to wait for the mystery to unfold. They could no more solve the mystery in their lives than I can each morning when I awake. 

Among all the mysteries of the world, both present day and so long ago, God has the mystery already solved. He has the clues for us and he knows the ending as well. As much as we want the mysteries in our lives to be revealed, we must wait for Gods’ timing. Whether during Advent, or any other time of year, having to wait gives us the time to embrace the mystery. Instead of being frustrated or rushed, we can rejoice in the longing and look forward to the presence of God among us. We can recall any of the mysteries that God has played a part in and know that through them all, he loved us. We can trust in the fact that God has the answer to the mystery before we even realize there is a mystery to be solved. God has loved us long before we realized there were mysteries all around and he will love us long after all the mysteries have been revealed.     

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

During this exciting time of year, help us to embrace each of the mysteries you give us. While we stand in long lines, wait in crowded parking lots, and busily prepare for time with family, help us remember to not become frustrated, but instead to rejoice and look forward to celebrating the most amazing gift we could ever be given. Thank you God for your son, Jesus, and for the greatest mystery we can ever be given, when he will return again.

Amen

Posted by Angela Bourff with

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