Hey there. It's Papa E with some thoughts on Christmas, meaning, purpose and making sense of it all. I heard some rather thought provoking comments in this weekend's sermon at Crossroads. Isaiah 9:6 is an often quoted verse this time of year; "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." The very last phrase is probably one of the most used during this time of year to describe the newborn Christ, and it is parsed and used in much broader terms to wish "peace" on all of our friends and family. However, this sense of peace in the American vernacular denotes a much simpler form than the peace Christ came to usher in. Our American peace might more easily align with words like calm, quiet, or absence of conflict. The Prince of peace as described in Isaiah is actually the Prince of "Shalom," an ancient Hebrew word that has a much deeper meaning. This type of peace actually refers to completeness, wholeness, and even a sense of harmony with God, creation and in relationships. As Chuck Mingo put it, Christ came to redeem the garden of Eden in our lives!
This is an amazing thought to me. God created the garden of Eden and creation to be a perfect place of peace, pleasure, joy and oneness with God and each other. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we have broken that completeness God wanted to give us, but he came and brought his son to redeem us to that place. Not only that, but he gives us the power to bring about Eden, or his Kingdom on earth right now. We don't have to wait until we leave this earth to enter the Kingdom.
When my wife and I got married, we used a song (artfully presented by my friends) called "The Echoes of Eden." I am struck so much by that imagery, especially in the love and joy we were able to share in that day. Recently, I have been experiencing more and more echoes of Eden in so many areas of my life. I see Eden in the joy in my daughters face when I come home from a long day at work, and am overwhelmed with joy. I hear echoes in beautiful music (from choral to rap) and in the excitement in the performers. I see the garden in a church community that is reaching out to the lost, the hungry, the sick, the enslaved, and the victims of sexual trafficking in a time when few others are. I hear Eden in the voices of Team in Training participants sharing their mission of beating blood cancers and see it in their jubilation when crossing the finish line of an endurance event. I taste Eden in food that is not only a blessing to have everyday, but is also flavorful, experimental, and decadent. I see and hear echoes of the Garden all around me and want God to use me to bring Eden to others.
May we never forget the blessings of a loving God, and may he use us to show his perfect love, his Garden, to all. Merry Christmas!
- Papa E