HEADlines: Christ the King, the Light that Overcomes Darkness

Through Advent, every day gets darker until we arrive at the cusp of Christmas. Winter solstice—December 21st– is the longest night of the year. Light increases each day following.

Christmas comes during the time of year pagans marked the winter solstice, the shortest day–but the end of encroaching darkness. It’s a feast to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

Christmas comes near Hanukkah–the Jewish festival of lights—commemorating victory over an effort to eradicate Jewish civilization. It’s a feast to memorialize one day’s worth of sanctified oil fueling a lamp for eight days. Eight days to celebrate light overcoming darkness.

Twenty-twenty has been a year of darkness and separation. My husband and I stood in our kitchen a couple of weeks ago, both of us steeped in a COVID fog of fever and cough. The radio played “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” I pointed out the lyric—“Next year all our troubles will be far away,” commenting that this year’s troubles were unimagined last year.

I imagined people singing that song in 1944—the year Judy Garland first sang it in Meet Me in Saint Louis. The movie opened in November of that year.

Imagine going to the theater to see a light musical—and to watch newsreels. People got their information from newspapers, radio, and movie newsreels—the precursor to television news.

What you’d see in newsreels around then might have included a race riot among US military personnel at Guam. Bandleader Glenn Miller’s plane disappearing over the English Channel. A typhoon hitting Admiral Halsey’s fleet in the South Pacific, costing America almost 800 souls. And Axis forces surrounding US troops at Bastogne.

Much of the news was grim. But Allied forces were pushing back. General Anthony McAuliffe, the American commander at Bastogne, responded to a German demand for surrender with one word: “Nuts.”

In dark days, light emerged.

It’s hard to perceive the depth of darkness people felt when we know now how the story ended. Allied forces converged; McAuliffe’s rebuttal stands as a rebuke to defeat.

But it’s harder to see the light when we sit immersed in the darkness of our own days with little hint of light ahead.

Was it a dark and starless night before the angels came to the shepherds? They were shepherds who’d been waiting for the coming of Messiah. They didn’t expect a blast of light and music with angels singing news of His coming.

The shepherds outside Bethlehem that night were Levitical shepherds. Ironically, they were ritualistically unclean. They walked through feces. They touched dead things.

The angel told them to find a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths. To shepherds raising sheep for Levitical sacrifice, swaddling cloths would be vastly significant. For a lamb to qualify for sacrifice it had to be perfect, without blemish.

The shepherds swaddled lambs intended for sacrifice–they wrapped them in cloths to protect them. The angel saying that they would find the infant wrapped in swaddling cloths indicated the baby would be a sacrifice. That baby was the Messiah.

Many would have expected a Jewish king to be born in Jerusalem–the city of the king–not Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was the City of David–a keeper of sheep.

God’s choice of a birthplace for his son wasn’t just a fulfillment of prophecy–which it was. It was also a symbol that Christ the King would be the fulfillment of sacrifice on our behalf.

Christ was the sinless Son of God, the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed for the shepherds’ sins–for our sins—for the things we walk through and touch that make us unclean.

God invited the unclean to see His Son. Those who reject Him today are yet among the invited.

People seek purpose and meaning today. But they cannot find it without Christ. He brings peace on earth–within our hearts. He is the perfect sacrifice for us.

Christmas proclaims the coming of a King who is the light who overcomes darkness.

“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,’” John 8:12.

There is a Christmas light to light the world–Christ Himself.

“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14.

Emmanuel—God with us. Let His light shine.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss The Extraordinariness of Simple Things

Republished from Mustard Seed Sentinal, July 27, 2019

“If I am to spend my whole life being transformed by the good news of Jesus, I must learn how grand, sweeping truths–doctrine, theology, ecclesiology, Christology–rub against the texture of an average day. How I spend this ordinary day is how I will spend my Christian life.” Tish Harrison Warren

An ordinary day. Do we truly have ordinary days? Or is every day something special? Something God is working through to shape us–to show us His grand, sweeping truths?

About 30-some years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Christopher DeVinck speak. He was an English teacher from New Jersey, a husband and father, a man with pro-life convictions who had lived those convictions. He talked about the extraordinariness of the ordinary. That things we consider ordinary can actually be extraordinary. That the ordinary is more powerful than we realize.

The example he discussed was his brother Oliver whom Christopher said lived the most ordinary of lives. Because of an accident during their mother’s first pregnancy, Oliver was born with serious disabilities.

He would never speak or walk. He lived his entire life at home with his family.

Christopher remembers that their mother would lay Oliver on a sheet in the summer grass while she hung wet laundry on the clothesline. He remembers the extraordinariness of a grasshopper lingering on the sheet.

If we’re not careful, we miss the extraordinariness of simple things that we might not otherwise notice. These things either pass without our notice or stay etched in our brains throughout our lives. We go through our days not knowing what will stick. What will become something we’ll carry with us. What will pass by and become insignificant because it really isn’t important. Or what we fail to carry with us because of our inattentiveness. These ordinary life events can deepen our bonds or they can change the direction of our lives.

For instance:

A few years ago, our house had fleas. They’d lived here before. And in spite of the visiting dog, we concluded that my husband brought them home from his recent camping trip. He was infested. The dog was not.

So I stripped sheets from beds, powdered the house with borax, and sprayed the dog with a mild vinegar and water wash. Three of the beds weren’t made yet. But we could take care of all that after the family gathering. There would be plenty of time when we got back with some grandkids who were staying overnight so we could pick blueberries the next day.

The plan was simple. I’d make the beds. Paul could walk the dog. Bedtime would be later than usual but not unreasonable.

Then the plan changed.

“We have a problem,” Paul said when he returned from the walk. The dog had nosed his way into a bush and got a snout full of skunk spray.

The new plan meant the dog couldn’t come into the house yet. Paul headed to the store to buy tomato juice. I still had to finish making the beds. So I recruited two grandkids–cousins, the two oldest.

“You two watch the dog, but don’t touch him,” I told them. They sat on the creaky porch swing. The only light from stars and the corner street light.

I gathered old towels, a basin of soapy water, and a bucket for the tomato juice. And by the time I finished the beds, Paul was back.

The younger cousins were upstairs in our guestroom/attic getting in some bonus video game time. Paul and the two older cousins were outside washing the dog.

I stood in between, near a window on a stairway, laughter arose from the driveway.

And I remembered another ordinary day that hadn’t gone quite right. We were at our church picnic. The dinner had been the typical cookout fare of chicken and baked beans. And afterward one of the cousins convinced Grandpa Paul to go on the ride that went forward and backward and sideways.

I chuckled at the memory as I stood on the landing between the cousins upstairs and the ones in the driveway with their grandpa and the soggy dog. I spoke to the ones with the dog.

“Remember the time Grandpa threw up at the park?” I had told them then that they would always remember that day. “You’ll always remember this day too.”

It seemed as though nothing had gone right that day, yet all was right that could be. And washing a smelly dog at 11:00 pm was certainly extraordinary.

HEADlines by Nacny E. Head

Credit: Annie Spratt

After the dog dried off and settled down, the lone girl cousin was down the hall between pink sheets with a book and a light. Quiet there already. Later it was quiet upstairs. After the game was off, after an argument over who was hogging the covers, after cousin whispers of adventures past and future.

When all was quiet, our house could not have been more ordinary, nor more extraordinary.

The next day we picked 22 pounds of blueberries. It took two vehicles to carry the cousins and the grandparents. We stopped for ice cream after our work. Grandpa played tag with them in the ice cream stand’s playground. Memories made. Bonds deepened. Lives changed? We may never know.

Every day is a 24-hour period no longer or shorter than any other. A most ordinary thing. But one moment can change all the other moments of life. Here’s an example.

A grownup Christopher DeVinck invited a girlfriend for dinner with his family. After their meal, he asked her if she’d like to watch him feed his brother Oliver.

“No,” was her simple response. He was disappointed but tried not to show it.

On another occasion, he asked a different girl home for dinner. At the end of the meal, he worked up the nerve to ask the same question he’d asked the previous girl: Would you like to watch me feed my brother his dinner?

“Yes,” she said. And after watching for a few minutes, she asked if she could feed Oliver herself.

This girl had cared for her ailing mother. She understood such ministry.

It was an ordinary act of conveying food from a dish to a mouth via a spoon. But it revealed everything Christopher needed to know. He asks us the key question:

“Which girl would you marry?”

Christopher has written articles published in the Wall Street Journal and Reader’s Digest. He was invited to speak at the Vatican. He’s had an extraordinary life to rival that of most writers.

But I would say that the extraordinariness in Christopher’s life came in the everydays that he taught English in New Jersey and then went home to his wife and three children.

Whether life holds fleas and skunks as cousins prepare to pick blueberries or simple dinners at home with parents and siblings, the ordinary pieces of life can become exuberantly important.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary.

About the Author

Author Nancy E. Head was a single mother with five children under the age of 14 when many in the Church came to her aid. Her story illustrates common problems in our society such as the fracturing of families and communities, reflecting a splintering Church. Alienated families and a riven Church cannot minister as effectively to their own members or others until they find accord.

Nancy is the author of Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord. She leads a small group ministering to the needy in her community.

Connect with Nancy on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

You can read Nancy’s HEADlines column on the 4th Saturday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Heading photo credit: Ravi Roshan: Author photo credit: Tammy Wolfe

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”