"To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." Isaiah 61:3

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Elizabeth's Reflections....

Elizabeth was asked by her English teacher to write an essay for our local newspaper. She was having a hard time coming up with a topic, but in the middle of the night this idea came to her...God-inspired, in other words! Here is her essay that appeared in the religion section of our newspaper yesterday:

With the holiday season inevitably come remakes of classic Christmas movies, and one of the newest this year is an animated version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” I attended this with some of my friends recently, and it was overall a pretty entertaining movie. I didn’t expect to get a type of theology lesson out of it, but that’s what ended up happening. On the way home, my friend brought up the scene in which Ebenezer Scrooge looks out his windows and sees ghosts lining the streets, all tormented and weighed down by lengthy chains wrapping around their bodies, symbolizing the evil deeds they had done while alive.

“It just made me so thankful that in the end, we don’t have to worry about our good deeds outweighing the bad,” she said to me. “I mean, if we’re Christians, God’s forgiveness can cover all of that.”

I had never really thought of Dickens’ epic Christmas tale in that way before, but now it has a whole new level of meaning to me. Imagine if we really did have to do penance for every sin, every malicious act or little slip-up. There’d be so much reason to be afraid of death, not knowing if we would even end up in Heaven or if we had fallen just short.

Christmas is generally only thought of as the time when Jesus came into this world, but what Christmas represents is more than that. His birth, eventual death on the cross, and subsequent resurrection meant that any human being from that point on had freedom from daily sacrifices, regulations, and from the generally legalistic nature of the religion of the day. This does not mean that we can take advantage of His grace and do whatever we want, but rather we can live, not in total fear of God, but in awe of Him and His mercy towards us as sinners.

Instead of, like Scrooge, trying to make atonement day after day for our sinful pasts, we can have a whole new life in Him, and that all started when, as Philippians 2:7 states, he “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Christmas isn’t simply about celebrating Christ’s newborn life as a human being, but it’s also about the beginning of our new lives through Him.

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