Advent Reading Day 26 – Embracing Forgiveness

“4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,  yet we considered him punished by God,  stricken by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;  and the LORD has laid on him  the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53

It is so frustrating when something doesn’t work the way it is supposed to.  I mean, it still works, but just barely.   This happened last week when the starter stopped working in our van.  We were out driving through the Merkato and I stopped off in Piassa to grab one small thing only to return to the van that wouldn’t even turn over.  I thought I knew the problem, so I did some quick fixes and there still was nothing.  So, off to the mechanic’s shop we went with 5 kids without naps nor lunch.   The mechanic had the short term solution, we could coast start it.  So, down the hill we went, popped the clutch and off the engine fired.  Great, now we could get home.   I clutch started the van a number of times as we made our way home that day and then came home to park in our driveway.  There was some conversation about whether our driveway was steep enough to successfully clutch start the van, but we didn’t have many options at the time.   So, in our driveway the van set for 2 days.

Then on Monday morning I had to go somewhere, so out to the van I went, hopped in and coasted out the driveway.  Guess what?  It wouldn’t start.  So, we found a couple of guys to help us push it back into our gate and up the small incline and again I coasted, but to no avail.  Third times a charm, right?  So, back up the hill we pushed…but failure once again.  So, out went the call to the tow truck to tow the van to the mechanic – another experience in and of itself.

It serves as a reminder to me of what God’s design was for us, but yet how we have fallen so short of that design.  Sure, at times it seems like our humanity is working and we see something good or philantropic occur.  Yet, within seconds we see just how distorted our humanness is when we read of inhumanity, injustice and cruelty.   We suffer from a brokenness and a distortion of our design which at times becomes even further distorted when we imagine that even though we are broken we still are functioning well.

Into this brokenness Jesus comes.  He comes to fulfill God’s Mission of redemption and restoration, made so evident to us in forgiveness.   Into the world that thought they knew how to handle their sin and how to mask their brokenness, Jesus came with a message not of masking sin or managing sin, but rather of the forgiveness of sin.  The message of Isaiah had found its fulfillment.   The Son of God was on the scene – the one who would deal with the power and the reality of sin once and for all and make forgiveness available to any who would respond.  God’s Mission of the ages had reached its fulfillment.   The true design of humans living in relationship with the Living God had been restored and made whole by the hands of God Himself.

When we think of Christmas and celebrate Jesus’ coming we are reminded of coming of The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Your sin.  My sin.  The brokenness of creation.   All of it made right and restored.   Where would we be without forgiveness?  We’d be trying our best, thinking we’re doing a pretty good job, overlooking our flaws and masking our brokenness.   But, now in light of forgiveness, thank God we are free.  We rest in Him fully.  He is our forgiveness and our assurance.  He is our freedom from past sin and our guarantee of forgiveness of future sin.   He calls us far beyond the management of sin to the freedom from sin and fullness of life in relationship to Himself.

This Christmas we have so much to be thankful for as we consider Jesus coming.  But in all of it, may we savor the extension of forgiveness to us – the forgiveness that restores us to relationship with The Living God because of His actions, not mine.   And, may that sense of forgiveness rise up in us as a source of gratitude as well as a response to live life to the fullest in relationship with Jesus as forgiven, free,  holy people who now can function in the way God originally intended us to.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for your forgiveness.   Thank you for The Mission which you came to fulfill of bringing redemption to the creation, its systems, and to us as humans.  Thank you for the price which you paid in humbling yourself and becoming fully human and then walking obediently the whole way to crucifixion on the cross.  I thank you that we celebrate Christmas in light of Easter and we know that you are resurrected and that you have defeated my sin and with ultimate authority extend forgiveness to me.  Help me to walk in it and extend it to others, too.  Amen.

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