One of my favorite parts of this season is waking up before anyone else, and coming downstairs to be greeted by the glow of the Christmas tree. I sit across from it in my darkened living room and admire the halo of colored lights as I sip my coffee. The morning is new. The day is fresh. Every sunrise brings a chance to reset.
I remember one morning when my boys – then five and six years old – woke up fighting. It’s unclear how they pulled this off but something must have happened as soon as they opened their eyes for the day, and they came down the stairs yelling and crying. I didn’t let them get past the bottom step. I helped them sort out the mess and say the required “I’m sorrys.”
Then, I told them to go back upstairs, get back in bed, and start the morning over. “I’m pressing the reset button,” I declared. The boys giggled at the thought of a do-over, but they marched upstairs. They restarted their morning and came down without fighting.
A chance to start again
The woman who was caught in adultery in John chapter 8 also needed a reset button, a chance to start over. She is brought to Jesus humiliated, ashamed, and fearing for her life. The men around her have condemned her, and she stands before Jesus awaiting her fate. He says “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” and one by one her accusers turn and walk away until only the Teacher is left. She may be hopeful, but her life still hangs in the balance. Then Jesus says: “Go, and from now on, sin no more.”
I wish the story followed this young woman. She is given a second chance, a do-over. She expected the worst and was handed grace. What did she do with it? How, then, did she live?
We don’t typically think of this woman’s story as a Christmas story. But just like she was forgiven and handed a second chance, so were we when our Savior was born in a manger. God stepped into our darkness to be our light. Far more beautiful than the glow around my Christmas tree, he brought with him hope, joy, and peace.
Jesus came to establish a new covenant. The old covenant, with its many rules and laws, could convict us of our sin but it could not empower us to obey it. It could not transform us. Only once Jesus came and gave his life for us, leaving us his Holy Spirit, were we able to walk in God’s ways.
Consider the promise given to us in Ezekiel 36:26-27:
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
When I look around my own life this year, I long for a reset button. When I look at the state of our country and the state of our world, I’m desperate for a reset button, a sort of cosmic do-over. During this Advent season, we remember that Jesus came to us once, to give us a new heart and a new spirit, and he’s coming again! In the meantime, we live our lives in hopeful anticipation, remembering that his mercies are new every morning, remembering that God is with us even now. O come, O come Emmanuel!