Hosea 6:1-6 (ESV)
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
It seems man does not change, really. Just as the Israelites kept sinning and coming back to the Lord, we today keep sinning and coming back to the Lord. We are just as fickle as they were. Yet God loved us enough to die for us even while we were yet sinners.
Many years ago, on the first Sunday of Advent, my parish priest suggested a good way to celebrate the season of Advent. He suggested that we take a few minutes each day to ponder our sin, not in general, but specific sins, and remind ourselves after each one, that God loves us. I am always amazed when I think about how much Jesus did for me. I found that it did not take long in considering my failures, and willful rebellion, and remembering that Jesus loved me, for me to be fully humbled, and in tears of sorrow and gratitude at the same time.
So if you are struggling with how to celebrate this season, try what worked very well for me when I was young. Think of your sins, one at a time, and after each one, say to yourself, “Yet God loves me!” I think you will find that a few minutes a day is more than enough, and that your gratitude and humility will both be headed in the correct direction.
May the coming of Christ at Christmas fill your hearts and homes with joy abundantly.
by Virgil Stripes