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The Weekly Encourager – December 21, 2018 – The Christmas Marathon

Are you running the Christmas Marathon? Between planning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, making, cleaning, cooking, baking, hosting, serving, singing, greeting, visiting, writing, sending, etc., most of us are pretty busy this time of year. There will always more to do, yet we can make the choice to do less. For many years, I've made a conscious decision to drop some activities in order to have a little more time to rest and think about the significance of this holiday. What I don't need is more Christmas lights. What I do need is more of Jesus, who is the Light.

Last Sunday the Scripture reading at our church was a beautiful juxtaposition of old and new testaments. I'd like to share these verses here from John 1 and Isaiah 9.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given.

And we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

For from His fulness we have all received, grace upon grace.

What a beautiful interweaving of prophecy and fulfillment. An artist depicted a similar interweaving in her amazing portrait of the Virgin Mary consoling Eve. Eve is depicted as downcast, holding the remains of an apple in one hand, with a serpent winding around her legs. By contrast, Mary is shown smiling, fully pregnant with Jesus, with the head of the serpent under her foot. One hand is resting on Eve's shoulder, while the other guides Eve's hand to feel the divine child move in the womb. The sorrow and shame of Eve is wonderfully contrasted with the mercy and hope of Mary. This is Genesis 3 in action. Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free!

This portrait has been especially meaningful to me lately, as I've been cast down with the horrible effects of my own sin: how I hurt others and myself, and how poorly I reflect the light of Christ to the world. This is one reason why I haven't written many Encouragers for several months. I just feel like, I'm such a sinner, how can I possibly encourage someone else? Then, I finally wrote the Gender Bender piece, which I recently learned was not encouraging, but discouraging to two people dear to me. Therefore, seeing the portrait of Eve and Mary for the first time was a balm to my wounded soul.

The beauty of Christmas is that Jesus left all the glory of His heavenly home to come to earth as a child and die as a man. He did this for me, a sinner. Have you ever thought about how long that journey must have been? That's the Real Christmas Marathon.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for hope! For forgiveness! For such a great love! As I think of You running such a great distance for me, equip me to run my own race with endurance, carrying the shining torch of Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Copyright 2018 Janet A. Marney

To see the portrait “Virgin Mary and Eve” by Sister Grace Remington, visit https://www.monasterycandy.com/Detail?prod=99






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