Advent day 8 and 9 were spent on the floor of the acute rehab unit at Banner Del Webb hospital. Yesterday, day 9 was a particularly long and even record setting day. I worked with two new nurses and together (along with the help of some coworkers who were gracious enough to come help us out on their day off) we admitted seven patients to our unit on our shift, a record number of admissions in one day for us. I put in over 14 hours yesterday, came home, crashed, woke up this morning at 6 and packed Goats Make Soap Co. up for her last farmer’s market of 2016. Therefore, no Advent posts for Thursday and Friday.
I do want to pick up where I left off on Wednesday though.
There are three phrases in the Luke account of the birth of Christ that grab me every time I read them. The first is Mary’s response to the shepherds report of angels declaring to them the birth of the Savior. The second is in Luke 2:
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” -Luke 2:25-35
The part in bold is the part that makes me stop. It’s what Simeon says to Mary about the Lord’s Christ. First it was an announcement of great joy to shepherds and peace to men and a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and now a sign that is opposed and a sword piercing Mary’s soul and thoughts of hearts revealed?
The Lord’s Christ, the Savior that God sent into the world to be the Light of the world is not a warm fuzzy pat on the back for people. Mary’s son Jesus was not even going to be a comfort to her. He wasn’t to simply be a perfect son, or even the special son who would finally rescue her and her people from oppression. He would be the cause of a sword piercing through her own soul.
And for God’s special people, Jesus would not just be the long awaited descendant of David who would finally make Israel the royal people of God again. He would cause many in Israel to rise and fall.
And for me, and you, he would not simply be that ticket out of condemnation we think we secure with a special prayer or soaking with water. For us, he is the revealer of the thoughts of our hearts. He exposes what we can manage to hide from others our entire lives. He shines his penetrating light into every crevice of our desires, affections and will so that as much as we may have convinced ourselves that we’re pretty good people and we don’t really need saving or a God, we cannot hide our guilt and need and worship of created things.
Christ will not be to anyone simply a more righteous way to get what we want. First he will cause us to feel opposed. First he will pierce our soul with the truth about what we really want and what we really need. First he will cause us to see for ourselves who we really are in light of the One who made us.
This Christ we celebrate at Christmas is joy unspeakable, but only to those who have surrendered his opposing rule, his piercing words and his thought revealing light and have embraced the joy that comes with loosing all that we’ve held onto in exchanged for the utter freedom of being His!
For the rest Christ will have to be dealt with. He cannot be ignored or escaped. He will be opposed. He will be an offense. He will be a pain. He will leave no place to hide.
The joy of loving and following Christ is worth loosing all false thoughts of control, suffering the pains of heart and soul that come with being his, and living in his exposing light which humbles us to live a life of constant vulnerability before him and others.