Time and Eternity

Well, Christmas is coming, and all I can think about is the approaching end of the year and the big things that await me in the next.  Irritatingly enough, all I seem to be able to do today is think about decisions I've made and regret, or issues that I've handled badly.  Things keep popping up to remind me.  And last night, I had nightmares about my study abroad semester that's coming up in February.  This is a problem!  Christmas Eve is only a few hours away, and all I can manage to do is curl up in a little miserable ball.  (Granted, I think hormones are helping with this.)

Something has to change.  I need to stop looking ahead and behind, and focus on NOW.  That sounds a bit cheesy, but it is exactly what needs to happen.  What is in the past is done, over, forgotten, sealed and burnt.  Consequences may remain, but those are their own challenges and remain in the future.  What is in the future needs to be planned and organized, but that can wait.

Eternity touches time in this coming day.  The Eternal One has already descended to earth, but now the King comes among His people.  His advent was soft and silent, the slow growing of a seed into a flower.  Now that flower blooms, and the earth sees its time caught up in the eternal.  He is the chain that binds our mortality to immortality; in Him our time is fulfilled.  Look around at all the images we use to celebrate this day.  Evergreen - undying tree, symbol of timelessness.  The emphasis on traditions, family or liturgical - tradition links the present to the past and the future, links time to time.  The circle of wreaths - always an image of eternity, with no beginning and no end.  Lights in the darkness - the joy of the present, for past and future are dark to our wills.  Indeed, the very fact of our celebration is an act of remembrance, but on a far deeper level, for we not only remember and commemorate, but we reenact and relive, and in that reenactment we enter the very act of God.  Honestly, isn't it beautiful!  At this time above all, in the darkness of winter, we are given a chance to see Eternity wrapped up in the limitations of Time.  The Infant in the manger is God Himself, immortal and invisible, in the body of an earthly child newly come from the womb of the Virgin, a helpless baby not yet even able to walk. 

Time is a funny thing.  It's "wibbley-wobbley", stranger the longer you think about it, and we're always trying to break out of it.  We want to be beyond its limits.  So much science fiction cannot even begin to understand the truth, which is, as always, stranger than fiction.  We, time-bound creatures, are yet made to enter into the eternity of God Himself.

In the joy of Christmas is a call to entrust the past and the future to God, for they are in His hands anyway.  Let the rest of life's cares go, and rest in Him.  Holy days, holidays - they're days of rest for a reason.  They're not a time to let your body rest and let your mind go racing over all the things you regret or all the things you need to worry about.  They're a time to let body and soul rest in the knowledge that the power of God is all-encompassing, and that time exists only by permission of His eternity.  Focus now on Him and on the miracle He presents for our joy.

Christmas Eve is almost here!  Come, Lord Jesus - come and renew the face of the earth.  Come, Emmanuel, God-with-us, now, and in eternity!