Thursday, December 21, 2006

Something Horrible Happened—Something Wonderful Happened

Something horrible happened the other day. I was in the back yard putting the generator away (we were without power) and all at once it happened. No, a tree did not fall on our house. No, a water pipe didn’t freeze and break. It was horrible… I stepped in some dog do-do! Without being too gross, it was hard to get it off of the shoes. I have a sensitive nose. I thought about throwing the shoes away but I couldn’t do that since they were my second favorite footwear (my favorite are my sailing sandals for Caribbean sailing). Days have gone by and I can still detect the faint odor.

Believe it or not, that experience makes me think of Christmas. The stain and stench of sin must be overpowering for a holy, righteous God. People try everything to hide the stain and mask the odor. Try as we might we cannot get rid of either of them. I was speaking with an older gentleman in our congregation recently. He was recounting his conversation with grown son. His son was concerned about going to heaven. The gentleman does not know scripture very well. He is reading his Bible most every day. There are still some parts of the Christian faith that he has a hard time articulating. He told his son, “Just live a good life and you won’t have to worry about hell.” I was shocked. Unfortunately, too many Christians (and Presbyterians) believe this to be true. We had a good talk and, yes, he believes that a relationship with Jesus is necessary for eternal life. We have a problem--the problem is sin! The stain and the stench do not go away and they cannot be hidden!

The good news of Christmas is that God took the initiative and provided a way for us to be forgiven and to have sin removed from our lives. When God sees us there is no longer a sin-stain. Sin’s foul odor is no longer there for God to smell. Because of Christ’s redeeming work God sees us through the lens of the cross as righteous children of God! All of this is possible because of the birth that took place in a Bethlehem sheep-birthing stable. Something wonderful happened—the Son of God made his dwelling among us. He lived a sinless life as he showed us how to live. He gave us a new covenant. He paid the price for our sins in his death on a cross. He conquered sin and death with his resurrection on Easter morning. “Something wonderful” trumps “something horrible” every time!


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