Tag: Joseph

Silent Night 2016

How would you describe 2016? If you Google “2016”, you’ll see one of the top searches was “2016 the worst year ever.” Some of these articles go back to this July, not just the recent days of December. This year has been mired in social media arguments, political unrest, and a lack of empathy to say the least.

All of 2016 has led us to the December Christmas season. In a time of thoughtful and spiritual reflection, our minds can race through the anxiety and at times even anger from the last eleven months. The idea of Advent, Christ’s coming, seems so distant from the chaos of the world around us.

Recently, I sang “Silent Night.” Two lines of the song stopped me:

All is calm
All is bright

Questions emerged in my mind. Was it really all calm? Was it really bright? These questions seem fodder for theologians to debate late into the night. Part of the cynic in all of us asks these questions, because our current reality may not match the lyrics.

The Christmas story disarrays the characters. Mary has to explain the meeting with an angel and an unforeseen pregnancy. Joseph has the same problem. This couple then gets displaced from their current residence to Bethlehem. They find lodging in a stable as opposed to a room. They would later escape to Egypt because of an evil ruler. We could include the shepherds and the kings who got re-routed to see Jesus.

“Silent Night” offers us the radical message of hope. A hope based on Jesus, the Messiah, entering the world of chaos. Rather than elevating His heavenly power to become an earthly king, He steps into the disarray of the world as a powerless baby. That’s Good News because He has walked where we walked, especially in 2016.

What Mary and Joseph experienced and what 2016 has brought us is the Savior stepping into the darkness with us.

Celebrating Christmas in 2016 is much more than the presents, tinsel, holly, and feel good notions. It’s hope for people stuck in this year’s reality. Looking for the bright and the calm has less to do with the present circumstances, and more to do with the deeper significance and meaning of “God with us.”

Whatever 2016 has brought, let the Christmas season move you beyond the current chaos to the reality seen in the Gospel. The Savior born in an unexpected context brings us hope in His death and resurrection.

Photo credit by Ben White.

The Necessecity of New

New implies a chapter ending. Exchange what you have known for an unknown fresh start. I don’t think we always comprehend a God making all things new. Change comes easy when convenient. Rarely, do we experience change in this fashion. Usually, the old chapter ends abruptly without our preparation.


My childhood pastor Bill Kirk preached a sermon on Joseph. We toss around the phrase “new normal.” Joseph lived an erratic new normal. The last portion of Genesis records how his brothers disowned him; rising and falling from power as Potiphar’s slave; leading the prisoners as one himself; waiting two years for time with pharaoh; and finally finding a place as second in command of Egypt.

Pastor Kirk drew from Joseph’s life this point, “The God who works in the behind the scenes of life…”

Why is new necessary? New comes to us at a cost. The life we left behind to the life where God has brought us. As much as we love the idea of God making things new, the actual practical application in our lives can seem unexpected. We find ourselves in these moments growing the most; finding a God working behind the scenes and ushering us into a new normal.

The image in this post depicts a mural. I picture our lives looking like this. Focus on one scene and you can notice the intricate detail. Step back and you will find how that scene fits within the picture. Only when we step back from the singular scene of our lives can we see the necessity of new.

God brings the new in our lives to…
Move us from our security to His.
Redirect us to His path for us.
Find Him closer than we ever imagined.
Recognize His grace.

Foreseen or unforeseen, part of following Christ means experiencing newness. A new normal invites us to step back and see the mural God has created in our lives.

What does new mean to you?

Photo credit to Jessie Schnall, you can see more of her work at Portraits by Jessie.


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