The Shadow of the Cross at Christmas

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Christmastime makes it really difficult for me to keep secrets. And I’m not fond of secrets.

When I was a child, the suspense of not knowing what was in the packages with my name on them was torturous. Absolute torture. Because of that, more times than not I surreptitiously lifted the cellophane tape off one end of my brightly colored presents and peeked inside.

After years of practice, I became an expert at unwrapping the package without damaging the paper, sneaking a peek, replacing the tape, and acting surprised on Christmas morning.

When I clandestinely unwrapped my Christmas presents, if there was a toy inside, whoopee! If there was a necessary sweater, or more knee socks, well …

As an adult, I have the same problem. Only in reverse.

I get so excited about what I’ve bought Pilot, I can’t wait for him to open it. To help him figure out the gift I give him hints. Sometimes, he won’t play along.

When I think about it, I wonder if God felt the same excitement and anticipation I feel at Christmas when he prepared to send his Gift of Love to our broken world. All through the Bible God gives us hints as to what was to come. The shadow of the cross. Sometimes his clues were ignored, and the people and wouldn’t play along, but that didn’t take away the gift.

God’s prophets spoke of a Messiah. Shepherd. Cornerstone. One from the house of Jesse. One from the line of David whose kingdom would never end. A Savior. Immanuel. God with us. These words hold joy and excitement.

Unlike the words in Isaiah 53:5. Words like pierced, crushed, punishment, wounds.

That’s when I understand the shadow of the cross of Calvary hung over the joyful gift of a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

And I cry.

When I set up our manger scene for Christmas, I place  a cross with a crown of thorns next to it.

Lest I get caught up in the presents, the baking, the decorations, and the carols, I need a reminder in front of me. Perhaps you do as well.

Christmas is about much more than a baby, gifts, and family. Christmas is about the cross. It’s about the sacrifice, the suffering, and the Savior who died and rose again so we might live.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited about the gifts under the tree. But it’s the gift that hung on a tree, that really matters.

What do you think?

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But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (GNT)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Do I Believe What I Write?

Bing photosBy Sandy Kirby Quandt

If you read my blog last December, then you are aware I did not celebrate Christmas 2013 in my usual way. Nope. Christmas 2013 found me nursing a broken left hip, courtesy of a freak fall I took November 30, 2013, in a Tallahassee, Florida gas station while trying, unsuccessfully, to contain a very skittish Bear.

As a result of the fall, emergency surgery was performed at our final destination, Waycross, Georgia, December 1, 2013.

Fortunately, I had all my December posts written and in place before we started our trip.  Bing Photos

As I sat on the couch last December and re-read everything I’d written as the posts came out, I was forced to ponder several things. Primary among the ponderings was do I believe what I write to be true?

During a season where we did not put up a tree because my walker couldn’t get around it, and decorations were very limited…presents were gift cards, because I hadn’t done my shopping before Thanksgiving…highly anticipated events — there were three big ones, several smaller ones — were missed because I just didn’t have the strength to handle them…and, I was unable to bake my favorite Christmas dessert…in light of all of this do I really, truly, believe Christmas is about the cross?

Oh, and did I mention Pilot came down with a stomach virus the second week of December, mere days after we returned home from Georgia, yet found the strength to get to the guest room to help me when I muttered to myself I’m stuck, as I floundered like a turtle on its back trying to get out of the bed?

Or tell you about the disastrous two-week dishwasher delivery that began the day after we returned?

Or tell you about the washing machine drain that backed up and gushed water all over the laundry room floor?

Or relate the tale of the two-month-long-delayed foundation repairs to our house?

Bing PhotosFor me, although I was surrounded by God’s daily mercies, no matter how hard I tried, it was a struggle not to let the disappointments that abounded sink me into a deep, dark, depression.

So I pondered…

 

Do I really believe what posted December 3, 2013?

Just as God heard the cries of his people all those years ago, he hears our cries today. Jesus is as real today, as he was yesterday, and as he will be tomorrow. He is our deliverer. Only he can remove our shackles.

Do I really believe what posted December 5, 2013?

What if there was someone we could hand all our problems and cares over to, and he’d take care of everything. He’d walk along beside us, and support us every second of every day. And give us peace in the process. Wouldn’t we want to be around him?

Do I really believe what posted December 12, 2013?

Just as God used these five women, he can use us. We can all be redeemed, and put back together through his grace. All we have to do is have faith enough to say yes to God, and his son, Jesus Christ.

Do I really believe what posted December 19, 2013?

God continues to use his people to accomplish his plans. We won’t give birth to the Messiah, but like Mary, we carry Christ inside us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Once we claim Jesus as our LORD and Savior, it then becomes our responsibility to praise God for the great things he has done for us through his love, mercy and grace, and share that wonder with those around us.

Most importantly, do I believe what I penned sometime in September, 2013, that posted December 24, 2013?

Next to the manger scene I set up each December, hangs a cross, and a crown of thorns. Lest I get caught up in the presents, the baking, the decorations, and the carols, I need a reminder in front of me. Christmas is about much more than a baby, gifts, and family. Christmas is about the cross. It’s about the sacrifice, the suffering, and the Savior who died and rose again so we might live.

Yes. Yes I do believe the truth Jesus led me to write months before I stared up at the clouds from a parking lot in Tallahassee, Florida.

Even though Christmas 2013 has come and gone, and Christmas 2014 will soon be a memory, no matter where life might find us right now, I hope we all believe this Christmas and every Christmas that follows…it’s about the cross.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.             John 3:16-17 (MSG)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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For Unto Us a Child is Born

Photo SQuandt
Living Nativity_Bavaria, Germany

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (AMP)

There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendour of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David’s town, a Saviour has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger. And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” Luke 2:8-14 (Phillips)

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,

Rembrandt’s Head of Christ
Credit Line:
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac D. Fletcher Collection, Bequest of Isaac D. Fletcher, 1917
Metropolitan Museum of Art

nothing to attract us to him.
 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.

Photo SQuandt
St. Maria im Kapitol
Cologne, Germany

Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave.

 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.

Theatinerkirche_Munich
Photo SQuandt

And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.
 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. Isaiah 53 (NLT)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

With every good wish for a blessed Christmas.

Remembering we are the reason Christ came into this world, to suffer and die, I leave you with this YouTube video of It’s About the Cross, by Go Fish.

I wish you well.

Sandy

PS

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