Beautiful Day

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Scenes of Advent and the Hope of the Gospel

With some small ones with colds and coughs and Warrior on drill weekend, we are home this Sunday morning. It is delightful to sit together and sing the songs of the season that worship the newborn King come to save the likes of us. It's even more delightful to sing these songs, gazing into the eyes of my own little babe and wonder what it was like for those who followed the star to Bethlehem to see and for Mary, his mother. 'Tis incomprehensible, I think, even as a mother who tenderly loves her own children, to truly understand the mystery of it all.

I brought down the harp today. Almost nothing so soothing to my heart as the sounds of these strings. I wish I could do the instrument justice and maybe someday that might happen, but the beautiful thing about the harp is that you almost can't make it sound bad. My Young Warrior enjoys playing tunes by ear on it.

We chose a conference message by Pastor John Piper as our sermon for today. I am keenly aware of making my life count for God's glory. I am also keenly aware of the great chasm between the woman that I am and the one I really want to be! So his conference series on the theme of "Don't Waste Your Life" seems wholly appropriate. I think it's my favorite Piper book. Today he spoke on "The Origin of the Unwasted Life." What I didn't anticipate was just how encouraging a message on total depravity and the hope of the Gospel would be! I love his definition of what total depravity is. To paraphrase, it is that we prefer the beauties and pleasures of God's creation to God Himself (Romans 1:23). We prefer His gifts to us over Him. We prefer to be in darkness rather than in the light (John 3:19). We prefer to be comfortable on our cozy couch (his analogy) to preferring another. I appreciate that Piper chooses this definition of depravity over law-breaking. For he says that we can "keep" laws with a begrudging spirit (if you are a parent, you know all about this.....Amen??) So the recognition that we are totally depraved should drive us to the Gospel daily. Without it, we would be utterly hopeless. I am powerless to change myself. I don't especially like to admit that (because I rather like self-sufficiency). Yet this is so liberating.

Having heard these words today, I am left with an appreciation in my spirit even more for the joy and hope that Christmas symbolizes. So I thought I would share some scenes of Advent here.

Our Jesse Tree is a tradition we started 2 years ago. I love that it tells the story of the Gospel each day of the Advent season.

Our Little Princess received this set last Christmas. I so appreciate having nativity sets that can be played with by little hands.

And we still have this set I found at a Playmobil store in Florida on a special trip we took when our Country Girls were small. I think we've lost a few bits here and there (if you know Playmobil, you know this is easy to do). But it remains a highlight of every Christmas for the children.

And I have the "big people set"--the breakable one that sits up high. Alas after about 18 years or so, it does have a couple of small casualties like a donkey's broken ear and a shepherd's broken arm. But I still find it a sweet reminder of a shopping trip with one of my still-kindred-spirit friends in the days of that first AF assignment. We both bought one for our homes. I think of her every time this nativity set emerges from its storage box.

And my favorite picture of peace today....(I can't resist pictures of my little ones asleep).

As today is Sunday we will all gather together this evening at the table, lit by lantern and Advent wreath, talk about our weekend, and read from our Advent devotionals. We try to make a simple tea-time each Sunday, but especially during the Sundays of Advent. There are far too many recipes to try and never enough time to try them, but we rejoice in the bounty of what the Lord has blessed us with. Last week it was two kinds of cranberry bread including my recent favorite cranberry-pecan sourdough artisan bread, homemade eggnog, peppermint crunch chunkies (oh, these are so good!) and always the bowl of popcorn. It's a delightful way to end the Sabbath and begin a new week. Here's to the hope that the power of the Gospel will penetrate my heart in new ways this week and this Christmas.

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