The Fourth Sunday of Advent/Christmas Eve


December 24, 2023 The Wounds of Exile: The Stable’s Hope of Redemption

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever…. But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.” —Psalm 89:1, 38

Christmas is a time of good tidings. But it is not all mangers and Magi, for we live in a fallen world in need of redemption.

As the author of Psalm 89, Ethan the Ezrahite felt the need for redemption keenly, especially because he was living during the time of Israel’s exile—a time that pre-dated Christmas. Although confident and rejoicing in verse 1, Ethan is lamenting and discouraged by verse 38.

Maybe you can relate to Ethan’s prayer: “How long, O Lord?”

Christmas does not ignore this question or turn a blind eye to our suffering. The very reason Christ came into the world was to answer Ethan’s prayer for a king to come again—a king to fulfill God’s covenant promises.

When Jesus came, it was to redeem the lost, restore the broken, and forgive the unforgivable through his atoning death on the cross.

The cost of redemption explains why some of the best Christmas carols juxtapose hopeful glad tidings with notes of suffering and chords of crucifixion. What Child is this? “Nails, spear shall pierce him through; the cross be borne for me, for you.”

That’s who this Child is: the Christ who came to redeem us from our exile to sin.

Reflection: What wounds do you bring for healing this Christmas?

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