Sunday, December 25, 2016

Renewal: December 25 through February 14


            No matter how old we are, we are all plagued with a certain sense of brokenness. We are preoccupied with the regrets of our pasts and with guilt over our shortcomings. But as we celebrate the Birth of Christ, we remember that Jesus came to a broken world and an imperfect people. The world Jesus was born into faced division by oppression, violence, and greed, many of the same issues we still deal with today. The deliverance of a Savior to Jesus’ time gives us hope for the healing and transformation in our own lives.
            This hope directs us towards the New Year. Looking forward to the future does not mean condemnation of the past. We give thanks for the past year while asking for a release from old grudges and regrets. We take this opportunity to seek renewal, to avoid monotony in our lives, in our relationships, and in our faith.
            At a time of new beginnings on our campus and in our world, we meditate on the transformative power of God’s love and the possibilities opened up by Jesus’ life.

Bonus Idea for Contemplation:
On the subject of Renewal, I am reminded of one of my favorite hymns, The Hills are Bare at Bethlehem, which was featured in Christmas in Christ Chapel 2015. Please read and contemplate both the lyrics here and how Jesus came to a divided world to provide hope and renewal to humanity.

The Hills Are Bare at Bethlehem

1       The hills are bare at Bethlehem,
        no future for the world they show;
        yet here new life begins to grow,
        from earth’s old dust a greenwood stem.

2       The stars are cold at Bethlehem,
        no warmth for those beneath the sky;
        yet here the radiant angels fly,
        and joy burns new, a fiery gem.

3       The heart is tired at Bethlehem,
        no human dream unbroken stands;
        yet here God comes to mortal hands,
        and hope renewed cries out: “Amen!”

Text: Royce J. Scherf, b. 1929, alt.
© 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress

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