In light of all the discussion about what marriage is and isn't, I thought some of you might appreciate reading how the Bibles describes Christ's relationship with the church as a bridegroom to a bride. It might not make any sense to those of you who aren't spiritual, but I liked it and hope you will enjoy it too. Maybe it will help you understand why I'm so passionate about preserving traditional marriage after reading this beautiful description.
Also, in light of all the attempts to remove Christ from Christmas as evidenced by a friend's ultra new agey invitation to a Christmas party that mentioned all the religions in the world except Christianity which made me LOL at the silliness of her extreme desire to be so inclusive that she became exclusive, I also thought it was a timely reminder that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
Shopping so much yesterday (actually only 3 hours, but felt like more!) and watching the rampant consumerism on display it just feels comforting to know that my Christmas experience isn't based on how many presents and Christmas cards I give and receive, nor how many parties I attend, nor who I kiss under the mistletoe, but on the simple truth that Jesus came to earth as a baby to save me from my sins (of which there are many if I'm honest.)
What a relief to know that I don't have to live this life in a vacuum and my faith will carry me through whatever is thrown at me - being let down by people I care about, being hurt by those in my immediate family, being attacked by those I don't know, being misunderstood by friends I have known and loved for years, and any other relational pain you can imagine.
That's why I'm a Christian. Because I know that God loves and cares about me when I feel like no one else does (especially during that time of the month!) and that's a huge comfort. It helps me to not depend on people for my happiness although I am only human and do feel the pain of rejection and everything else that goes along with living in this world. But it definitely makes it easier.
So, because it's been so long since I've shared one of these devotionals and Marybeth Whalen is such a gifted writer, here's one of her Advent devotionals to encourage you on this Saturday.I did not write it at all and posting it here merely to entice you to begin reading her blog and ask her to be a speaker if you like what you read.
Be sure to sign up on Crosswalk too if you like Encouragement for Today because then you can receive their newsletter in your box on a daily basis without waiting for me to post something and all the writers are great! Tell 'em I sent you.:)
By MaryBeth Whalen
Encouragement for Today
Welcome to Encouragement for Today, a free devotional from Crosswalk, the world's largest Christian website.
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." Revelation 19:7 (NIV)
The word "advent" means "to come." So the advent season we are entering is a time of preparing for Christ to come. Figuratively, we are to see ourselves in the place of those who sought the newborn Savior: the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna. This season becomes a time to turn our hearts towards the practice of seeking Him. And indeed, during this festive time on the calendar, many hearts are turned, and many intentions renewed. This is part of the excitement of Christmas!
In the gospels, Jesus refers to the Church as His bride. He speaks of a day when He will come for the Church and there will be a wedding ceremony like no one has ever seen! In the midst of a struggling economy, failing marriages, and brokenness everywhere I look, that is a vision that motivates me beyond my circumstances. And yet, is it a vision that is kept within the confines of Christmas? Or can we look for Jesus to come all year?
When Jesus used the marriage analogy to describe His relationship with His people, He knew that His listeners would attach certain cultural perceptions about marriage to this word picture. In Biblical times, it was common for an engaged couple to spend a year apart. The bride would spend time with her mother and other women she respected, learning to run a household and getting prepared, becoming a student of the desires and expectations of her groom. She took this time very seriously as she readied her heart and life for what was to come. The groom also spent time preparing. He would spend his time making a home for them to live in, the place he would bring his bride to with pride. Both parties had a pivotal role to play.
What a beautiful picture this is for the Church and her Bridegroom! Christ has, as promised, gone to prepare a place for us. While we are apart, we can trust that He is working to build something beautiful. But we have an equally important role to play. While we are apart, we must learn what it takes to be His bride. We must study Him, learning how to keep His house in a way that pleases Him. This is not merely a suggestion, but an expectation. We can't lose that expectation in the shuffle of changing times and cultures! We know that He keeps His promises, so we can trust that He is building our house for us. Don't we want to be a bride who is prepared?
Though traditionally the season of advent is hemmed in between the dates of Thanksgiving and New Year's, let's not leave it there. Let's make this season merely the beginning of our preparation for what is to come. We can commit this time that we are apart from our Bridegroom to prepare for Him, to anticipate His return, and to focus not only on when He came, but when He is coming again.
Dear Lord, thank You for coming and thank You for the promise that You will return. Lord, I want to prepare for You as Your bride, learning about You and drawing close to You. Thank You for preparing a place for me and finding me worthy to be Your bride. I want to make my whole life a season of advent--a time of anxiously anticipating what is to come. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Advent: Making Christmas about Christ by Lisa Robertson
Marybeth's Christmas e-book, A Recipe for Christmas JOY
Visit Marybeth Whalen's blog