Christmas occurs behind enemy lines

No_mans_land

One of the enduring images I ponder during Advent is of Jesus the infant being sneaked in behind enemy lines as a tiny baby.  I got the image from philosopher Peter Kreeft.  No one would have thought of this strategy, says Kreeft, except the Master of the universe himself.

So today’s Advent thoughts are of how I live in a mysterious world of death, where an enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  We all live here.

And in this world in which I live, I am acutely aware of my terminal illness, friends.  You have the same one I have.  May we never  be mistaken in our prognosis of this illness:  Life always is fatal.  No one gets out alive. 

One of the sobering, historical themes of Advent is that of longing.  It’s double edged.  We long for the coming of Jesus the Savior, but we also long for his Second Coming — the final consummation — when mortality finally is released from its relentless grip.  Is it any wonder to you that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time? (Romans 8)

Ultimately, the baby — the Christ child — entered behind enemy lines so we can say with the Apostle Paul:  "If our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.  His is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. … Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life."

Indeed, the famous Christmas hymn "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and the famous Easter hymn "Christ the Lord has Risen today!" are two sides of the same coin.

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