“Twas the night of the nativity, and all through the grounds, not a creature was stirring, not even the cows…” Well, not exactly. If you made it to church early on the Sunday of the nativity, you may or may not have noticed a cow running around through Israel, Canaan, and Bethlehem. Somehow he got out of his pen, and decided that the whole nativity would be under his rule! Luckily, led by our own former intern Kris Smith he was cornered and returned to his home with the other animals. Oh how the GSPC internship continues to pay dividends!
This is just one of the many delightful stories that were born out of the nativity. There are numerous moments during November and early December that I bemoan the nativity and wonder why we continue to put so much time and energy into it, yet every year I remember why we do. Again this year I heard several first time “nativity-goers” exclaim that it was the most wonderful thing they had seen in a long time, that although they didn’t know just what to expect, our rendition of a trip through the history of redemption exploded their expectations. We even had over a hundred and fifty new “likes” on our facebook page in the few days following the nativity. So, yet again, in redemptive fashion, all of the blood, sweat, and tears of many workdays and workweeks has produced a broken splendor.
And that, of course, is what we are, a broken splendor. The gospel humbles us into the dust, and at the very same time exalts us into the heavens (Keller). In Romans 5 Paul tells us that “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” There are two glorious extremes in this verse that will change our lives if we let them. Christ not only died for us, he died for us precisely when we were ungodly. We carry these two great realities with us for the rest of our lives. At the very same time we are miserably sinful, more than we could ever know or imagine, yet also more loved, cherished, and adored than we could ever dream. We are justified sinners; honored failures; broken splendors.
If you are looking for something to meditate on for the first part of this year, take this truth deep down into your heart. Let it soak into your bones, so that pride diminishes and joy slowly but surely grows. For, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us.”
Happy New Year,