EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Cleaning for Christmas, Christmas as cleansing

2012-12-23T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Cleaning for Christmas, Christmas as cleansingPaul Appold nwitimes.com
December 23, 2012 12:00 am  • 

They were standing there waiting for me. The troubled look of concern was all over both of their faces. My wife and my oldest daughter were talking quietly to each other. I knew it wasn’t good. Then they turned to me and said, “Lady got sick last night, and it’s all over the basement!”

The look was one I knew. It meant, “You need to take care of it!” What do you mean? I asked. Then they opened the basement door, and it became apparent. It was not a pretty sight or a pleasant smell.

You see, our beautiful 12-year-old dog, Lady, became sick overnight, and it led to a putrid mess all over the basement. So, with cleaning supplies in hand, I went down trying to hold my breath as long as I could.

I love our dog, and what is more I love my family even more. I knew the mess needed to be cleaned up, and I wasn't about to let it go. I also didn't want them to have to clean it up.

In some respects, that is how I see Christmas. Our world was in a terrible state of affairs. There were messes that needed to be attended to wherever one looked. Hatred, fears and betrayals had led to calloused hearts and widespread despair. But God the Father had the answer. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to clean up the repulsive mess.

As a follower of Christ, I certainly rejoice at Christmas time over the miraculous birth in Bethlehem of the Savior of the World. I love to hear the beautiful account of the angel Gabriel speaking to Mary and saying, “Nothing is impossible with God.” I also love to hear her obedient response, “Let it be to me as you have said.” This is a beautiful record of faithfulness, trust, and obedience, which applies to many areas of life.

But the greatest part about Christmas is the power of God’s love. God knew that Satan and humanity’s sin had caused such a crisis that He needed to send His best to clean up the mess. His best was His own dear Son. He also knew this wouldn't be an easy job. It would take time and effort. It would take blood, sweat and tears. It would also take His life. But He gave it gladly because He loves us.

I must admit that there were times when I was cleaning up in our basement that I didn't want to be there. I was doing it because I had to do it. And that is where the comparison ends. Jesus Christ came because He wanted to do His Father’s will. He wanted to set us free from the chains of our sin. He wanted to give us hope in every circumstance of life.

Yes, there are still some times that major messes occur, as we have seen in recent days. Some of these messes are horrifying, such as the shootings in Newtown, Conn. Satan has a way of stirring up conflict. But the message of Christmas still rings clearly today. Jesus Christ has come out of the majesty of heaven to clean up the messes of this world. He didn't do it just because He had to either. He came because He truly loves us.

Perhaps there are some situations in your life that need some Christmas cleaning. God’s love for the people of this world has never stopped. The gift of Jesus keeps cleaning up the darkest areas of our lives. He brings hope, forgiveness, and peace to the troubles of this life. During this Christmas season of 2012, it is my hope and prayer that you come to know this truth anew.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a hope-filled New Year!

The Rev. Paul Appold is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansing. The opinions are the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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