As we think about the dawn of redeeming grace, about a silent night where all is calm and all is bright, and everyone is sleeping in heavenly peace, let’s remember that an ancient spiritual conflict is still raging.
During the recent Advent season we followers of Jesus were reminded once again of the epicenter of our faith: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory” (John 1:14). This astounding message changes everything, and that includes prayer. But let’s be honest—the busy-ness of the new year tends to wipe away the afterglow of our Advent experience. I suggest this year we resist our tendency to forget Advent by pondering how the story of Christ’s birth impacts how we pray. Prayer can never be the same after God’s ultimate revelation, the incarnation of the Son of God. We need to pray with our minds set on Christmas.
TSO’s song “Old City Bar” speaks to a common problem—making Christmas last throughout the year. Understanding Epiphany as the reality of Christ’s presence with us is key to our ongoing experience of the joy of Christ’s Advent.
The song “Mary, did you know” has become quite controversial. But the real question during this Advent season is not what Mary knew but what we know about Mary. As a protestant evangelical I’m aware that some in my circles are suspicious of any focus on Mary. After all, the Gospels are about Jesus, and there is relatively little about Mary in them, and even less about her in the rest of the New Testament. Christian reflection on Mary has produced a detailed Mariology, viewed at times by protestants as mariolatry. In any event, the gospel story of Jesus begins with Mary, so we turn to her in this post in the hope that we can shed some light and turn down the heat.
John tells us of a surprisingly human Jesus who experienced many of the circumstances we struggle with, and, more importantly, who showed us how to deal with what may actually be the most difficult time of the year.