Friday, December 12, 2008


There are echoes. Do you hear them?

They are always faint...but sometimes they are less so.

Christmas is such a time. The echoes seem to break through quite often this season. They are heard in the music. They are seen in the lights. They are heard in laughter of family around tables piled with mounds of food. They are heard in the stillness of the night and in the silence of the early morning. They can be heard in worship services. And in the quiet desolation of the cemetery. They are heard in the joy of young children. And in the loneliness of old children.

I hear them in all of these settings. Especially this time of year.

What are these echoes? They are several things. But they point ultimately to one thing...

They are the sounds of days gone by. Cherished days, fondly remembered. They are the sounds of tears shed at partings, some temporary, some permanent (at least in this life). They are the memories of love discovered. Of Family. Parents. Grandparents. Children. Friends. Holidays. Camping trips. Vacations. Songs sung. Jokes told. Words spoken. And those wistful "things I wish I'd said," as Rodney Crowell sang a few years back.

There are other echoes too. Echoes of longing. And of longings realized. And satisfied. Of redemption when it was new and fresh. Of forgiveness. Of the amazing grace we sing about so often.

In all of these, though, there are still other echoes. Of darkness. Shortcomings. Failures. Sins. Desperation. Hopelessness, or so it seemed. These are terribly painful to recall. So painful that one of the most treasured things is that promise so long ago that "their sins I will remember no more." What a promise!

It is there, that we hear the faintest and most foundational echo. So faint that it is rarely heard, and even more rarely comprehended. This faintest of echoes goes beyond our times...beyond our shortcomings & sins...beyond even that first Christmas. It goes farther back than the patriarchs and prophets, even.

It is the oh-so-faint echo of a garden long ago. A world unstained by pain...sin...loss...death. A garden in which man spoke with God face to face without fear, unmarred by sins (his own or those of mankind at large). This echo is so faint that we almost doubt that it exists. And yet, there it is, inescapable. Especially this time of year.

This echo rings in cries for justice in the face of injustice. It rings in cries for mercy. Those garden echoes and how we respond to them are foundational to our worldview.

Without that garden, we'd have no longing for its restoration. Without the sin we inherited from there--and then lived up to...or rather, down our own right--we'd have no need of redemption. Without this faintest of echoes, there would be no Christmas, for there would've been no need for it.

There are echoes. Do you hear them?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved your thoughts, Mike!! They certainly made me "stop & listen" to the good echoes & those that bring pain. Thanks for sharing your insight--beautifully written!

Janice Martin (Temple/West)