This week our Advent theme takes us to the 2nd Stave of A Christmas Carol and the visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past. As a part of marking Christmas Past we will take time near the end of the service for a Blue Christmas commemoration.
- Isaiah 40:1-2
- Revelation 21:3-5
- Luke 4:17-19
Early Thoughts: We are all a product of our past, for better or for worse. In our past we have been taught various things, various ways of being, various ways of believing, various ways of interacting with others. In our past we have been wounded. In our past we have been blessed. All of those things from our past have shaped who we are today.
This can feel like a trap. It can feel like we are doomed to be who we are because of who we were. It can feel that because of our past wounds we are forever broken, because of the sorrow in our past joy is harder to find now.
What do you carry forward from your past?
Here is the redeeming word of Grace. While our past has shaped us, it does not need to trap us. Isaiah speaking to exiles in Babylon and the close of John's Revelation while on the Island of Patmos remind us that God is actively easing our comforts and bringing our pain to a close. We can learn from our past but not let it control us forever.
Christmas is one of those times of year that often seems inextricably bound up with the past, with traditions, with having to do things the "way they have always been done". This can be difficult for many people. Sometimes we need to find a new way free of the past. Sometimes the past leaves us in unhealthy places. I have come to believe that God (who is and was and yet will be, who is past present and future) calls us to look at how we got here with both a nostalgic AND a critical eye.
What will you do with what you carry forward from your past?
Scrooge is led on a journey of his past. This journey helps him see how he got to be the man he is. That journey reminds him of some of the pains that live in his soul. As we continue our journey to the manger we do need to name those things that dampen our joyfulness. Some of those are in our present, in our recent past, or deep in the depths of time. We do that not to allow them to take over. Nor do we think that by naming them we can "get over them". We do it because we we trust in the God who offers comfort, who conquers death. This is the God who is breaking into the world again this Christmas, the God who redeems our past and helps us decide what we are going to carry forward.