category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 16

Monday, December 13

Isaiah 11:1–9; Numbers 16:1–19 Hebrews 13:7–17

Every year, the holidays become more and more meaningful as our children get older and more grandchildren become part of the story. When I was a much younger parent, Christmas was more about the celebration and the gifts; now it’s more about
time with family and The Gift. While the actual birth of Jesus has become a point of controversy, whether it’s really in December or in July, the specific date or time of year becomes less important than the actual reason for celebrating the birth of our Savior. We can argue over the ecumenical details, resulting in denominational divisiveness and hurt feelings, or we can focus on the details that we agree on, those things that bring us together.

Quite often, we get into philosophical discussions about politics or marriage or football or the Bible, and people will disagree about everything almost all the time, especially when it comes to theology. We even complicate the use of the word ‘theology’ when in reality it only means the study of faith or religion. Recently, I’ve had very animated discussions about evolution and creation. As a card-carrying, academic scientist, it is very difficult for me to ignore evolution in favor of an unambiguous creationist story. In my mind, there is no reason that evolution and creation can’t co-exist, and I’ve even had many of my introductory biology classes write about evolution and Genesis, ultimately telling them that evolution and the first chapter of Genesis can complement each other. Sure, the timeframes appear to be a little different, but the general order is reasonably similar. Many people believe that creation as told in Genesis is not meant to tell us HOW God created humanity but that God CAN create anything and everything. For me, science tells us the HOW and the WHEN, while the Bible tells us the WHY. There are many people who will never believe that evolution is true, which is fine, but as Christians, we cannot be afraid of science. The reality is that no amount of scientific research will ever disprove the existence of God. And no matter what side of the evolution-creation fence you’re on, just know that God did it—He did it all for you and for me.

We can all get caught up in denominational idiosyncrasies, many of which serve to divide us. Yet as Christians, there is at least one common truth we all can agree upon: Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. As Hebrews 13:8 [NLT] says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” meaning that His love never fails and never changes. Consequently, the love of Jesus Christ is the main thing that brings us together and keeps us together during the Christmas season, which is The Gift we can all celebrate. And what has been quite encouraging for me is to witness our children understanding the importance and focus of Christmas way earlier than their dad did!

Shawn E. Holt
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

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Advent Reflection: Day 17

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