Week 1 of Advent is in the books, and as we prepare for the second week of our virtual book club, here are a few passages from the past week that have stood out to me in some way. I hope they encourage or challenge you as you move forward into the second week of Advent!
What I love about Russ Ramsey’s book Behold the Lamb of God is his ability to take the Christmas story and make it feel new and fresh with each unfolding chapter. He doesn’t start with shepherds or with angels, he starts with Adam. Isn’t that really where the Christmas story really begins?
Ramsey introduces this story beautifully in Chapter Two, “Hear!” I love the way he phrases it:
It is a tale filled with people in trouble, all living somewhere between wandering and homecoming, between devastation and restoration, between transgression and grace. Every mortal character in the story needs rescue, but they have all turned aside, and together they have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
It’s a textured story. But after clearing away all the levels of intrigue, conflict, and suspense facing mankind, this story is not ultimately about mortals. It is a story of divine love (10-11).
Reading this passage, I’m reminded that this story is also our story. We are all a part of the Christmas story, because the Christmas story won’t have its end until Christ returns. This is my story, this is your story. I love that at Christmas time we have such a wide cast of characters to identify with.
At work, my students are reading through bits and pieces of Homer’s Odyssey. It’s an epic poem about Odysseus, a hero of the Trojan war, and his wandering and homecoming. It was written before Christ, but it expresses the same longings that Ramsey describes in the passage I just quoted above–a longing to be found, to be known, to find a home. As I read about Odysseus’ heroic works at school and then come home to read Ramsey’s explanation of how the Christmas story affects us, I have been thinking a lot about how we are a narrative people. We tell stories to each other when we describe our days, when we watch the human interest pieces on College GameDay, when we daydream. I believe that we are a storytelling people because we have a storytelling God, and this is the time of year, for me, anyways, when that story becomes most real.
In that vein, here’s a song that goes with this idea of living within the Christmas story and realizing our place in it. If you’re reading this in your email inbox, you might have to visit the blog on the web in order for the link to work, but I highly encourage you to do just that!
Passages to Consider:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
–Psalm 107:1-3 (and all of Psalm 107 for a great example of how God uses every kind of story)
Questions for Reflection:
- With which character(s) in the Christmas story do you most identify? Why?
- How has God shown you that you are a cherished part of the story He is writing?
- What was the most meaningful part of this past week’s readings?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Don’t forget to share your pictures with #book50readalong! Check back next Sunday for my thoughts on Week 2.