The Greek letters for Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Representing everything that Jesus is.
Jesus, the Light of the world, is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Wrapped in all of His majesty and insurmountable glory. He is surrounded by a heavenly host of angels praising his name forever and ever. He is the being through Whom all things were created, both seen and unseen. Robed in a brilliant light and array of colors that we cannot even begin to imagine, this Jesus is the beginning and the end of all things. He is the Prince of Peace. Amen.
Our souls were once faced with a shroud of darkness, living in a tomb of evil and death brought on by our separation from the Giver of Light. This is represented by Mary and Joseph shown in a tomb of misery and despair.
The red signifies the pain and suffering in death, the chaos and confusion of living in a fallen world that we were never intended to experience. It also ties in with blood being the life source for the living. Throughout the Bible, the importance and significance of blood is demonstrated again and again. In the old testament, animals would be sacrificed to provide temporary innocent blood coverings of sin so that our Holy God could dwell behind a veil within the temple of Israel. This provided an image of what was to come- the blood of an innocent lamb- Jesus Christ.
So then everything changes. Jesus bends down. He enters creation- not the original, magnificent creation- but this fallen creation under the curse of sin and darkness. Chaos, confusion, disease, death. The beautiful King of kings, the Messiah once wrapped in majesty and magnificence bends down to meet Man where he is, clothing himself in humble human skin to look his creation in the eye.
Only Love can do that.
He leaves the glory of the heavens to enter this world but Man does not recognize him. Jesus knowingly subjected himself to the loneliness and isolation that is living in this world. He left the majesty and splendors to walk the earth unrecognized by his own creation. He knew this ahead of time and he still chose to rescue us.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to replace the animal offerings. But unlike the animals, the shedding of his blood would defeat the reign of sin and cleanse his people once and for all. Tearing the veil and allowing God not only to dwell in a physical temple, but cleansing each individual person and allowing God to dwell inside each and every one of us who accepts the gift of Jesus. Because of this, a temple is no longer needed. We can have communion and be one with God whenever, wherever we are.
Because of the mercy and grace of Jesus subjecting himself to death and resurrection, we are no longer bound to the misery that is hatred and selfishness. We can now accept his gift and be filled with the Holy Spirit making us able to love as He loves us, making us able to demonstrate the exact mercy and grace that we have received. Through his blood covering, we are not only forgiven from our sin and united with God, but we are also ambassadors of that love. We are called to extend that gracious hand to those suffering around us and to allow God to provide relief to them.
This is our loving Creator, whose love endures forever.
Paintings by Rachel Justice
Words by Brittanie Richendollar
Stir my affections to the most radiant wonder in all the world: the advent, the giving life and work in the person of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus.
He, the perfection of our eternal hope secured.
He, the glorious manifestation of exquisite, flawless, and transcendent love.
He, our Redeemer King.
When all creation groaned in plight, affliction, and death,
You gave us this holy night-
a newborn King,
a Prince of Peace, a heritage of hope.
When we feel unable to rise, too sluggish to respond, too content with the world’s shadows of satisfaction
Steady our gaze on the cross,
Where Your inexhaustible, indestructible, all-consuming love is displayed,
Where Your perfect sacrifice paid the debt my sin accrued,
Where the light of Your love absorbed all darkness in me.
You have shown us love
from the beginning of time,
through the ages,
and for eternity forevermore.
We are saved, sealed, and satisfied
by Your love,
through Your love,
and for Your love.
O God, You are Love!
You are light and life, our greatest prize!
Your steadfast love is our eternal refuge.
You are my reason to worship.
Unabashedly, adoringly, with full voice and fervor we sing:
Praise be, to our God and King,
Our beloved, our fortress,
Our love and hope forevermore!