By Elizabeth Prata
I was saved by Grace of God late in life, at age 42. But that doesn’t mean I spent the first four decades ignorant of God. His creation spoke to me, my conscience pricked me, and my soul longed to be filled even as I mused as to why it was curiously empty. Romans 2:15, Ecc 3:11).
I’d asked the big questions: Why are we here? What is life good for if it is so short and the earth so old? It seems pointless. Why did nothing satisfy me for very long? Money or travel or accolades work or marriage or accomplishments? What was the point of it all? If there was a God, why would he care about us? We’re so puny.
I finally acknowledged there was a God, because creation existed. I was a living example of Romans 1:19.
I could not, however, figure out who went to heaven and why, what the benchmark was that allowed some people in and others not. This was because I rejected the notion of my sin and Jesus’s blood in atonement for it. I was a living example of Romans 1:18.
During the time just prior to my salvation, while I was seeking actively, I fell in with a group of pagans and witches. I was invited to a solstice night gathering. This was in Maine and on December 21, it’s cold. The average low for that night is 17 degrees, with the average high just hovering above freezing, with an average of a foot of snow on the ground. That particular year there was a lot of snow.
I’d been familiar with Roman Catholic ceremonies, my husband was Catholic. There, the gravitas of the situation was impressed upon you by long-held shiny rituals and reverberating chants in another language. Mysterious. I didn’t understand it but it was obvious that other people did. One can see the attraction to this sort of thing.
The ritual or ceremony for the Solstice event was to simply go outside and stand around in the yard in shin-deep snow, looking at the pine trees. As the sun sank, we were told to think of something or say something that came to mind.
Like what? It’s cold outside? When can we go in and have the hot chocolate that was promised? Am I supposed to worship a tree? Where was the meaning in that?
Where was the framework to put this into perspective? What were we supposed to think? Or say? Or do? I just shifted feet and pushed my hands further into my pockets. Is this where eternal meaning was? If so, it felt so empty.
I now know that in addition to being a silly ceremony, if that’s what it was, it was empty because we were trying to find meaning in the creation when we were part of the creation itself. It went no higher than that.
The joy of Christmas is that the transcendent was made manifest, and on our behalf too. The problem with a solstice ceremony was that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:23). Honoring the creation but not the Creator who created it is foolish. And it felt so.
The Lord in His grace saved me a short while later. He opened my eyes to His glory and caused my heart to incline to worship of the Ancient of Days. He is living, His glory was shown in the image of His Son, (Hebrews 1:3) who was born that day in the city of David. (Luke 2:11).
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The Christian world rejoices tonight in the mystery of the incarnation, the babe, who lived as a lamb but will return as a lion. Praise God that “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5).