Advent is the season in which the church prepares to celebrate the birth of Jesus. What better way to prepare our hearts than by following an outline of buts? I’ll present to you ‘The Big Buts of Advent’ over the next four weeks.
When people think of Christmas passages in the Bible they don’t tend to turn to John chapter one. For my thinking, however, it’s probably the best Christmas text of them all. We’ll start there.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There is the Christmas story in one verse. “Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness,” as Tim Hughes wrote in a worship chorus a few years ago. Make no mistake–this is the miracle we celebrate in the birth of Jesus.
The day I was born a tornado ripped through our town. No one was hurt but a couple of farm tractors were blown over. Pretty cool, eh? It sort of marked the occasion–Darin is here! My older siblings have said it was foretelling of the kind of brat I would be as a youngster. Me? No. Couldn’t be. But you see, that’s where my story began. Sure, you could be scientific about it and say that my beginnings were some nine months earlier at conception. Or, you could be theological about it and agree that God knew me long before that and had envisioned my life long before. But for all intents and purposes, I began at birth.
Not so with Jesus.
John makes it clear that Jesus always was, and that He always was God. He goes so far as to say that everything that is, was made by Jesus. Then come the buts.
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John uses words of stark contrast–light and darkness. And a conjunction of hard contrast–light offered itself in darkness, but…
Again a few verses later, He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.
One of the darkest scenes in the birth narrative of Jesus has to be when the wisemen come looking for the one born ‘King of the Jews.’ The religious leaders of the day are summoned and asked where this king would be found. They give the answer–“Go to Bethlehem.” But (doesn’t that word fit appropriately here) they didn’t go to see for themselves. Telling.
Ah, but this good news follows: Yet (a big yet is like a close cousin to a big but, I tell you) to all who recieved Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God.
This first week in Advent–where is your heart? Clinging to darkness and refusing the light? Perhaps even pointing the way for others, while not embracing this gift yourself? Take a good hard look at these first few buts of Advent.