From Dan Vaida
“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”
While this well-known Ecclesiastes quote doesn’t come from today’s Scripture readings, it lingered in the back of my mind as I was thinking about the common themes shared between Psalm 51 and Revelation 3. It demonstrates the utter hopelessness and futility of our lives apart from God.
Like all of you, I struggle almost daily with pain, frustrations, and sin. These experiences may not be as frequent in some seasons in our lives, but generally we are not immune to the pain that this fallen and sinful world exposes us to. This is an inescapable reality that every one of us is confronted with. Being a follower of Christ doesn’t exempt us from this, nor does God ever promise us a permanent escape from the ravages of sin and evil; at least not in this life.
This is why I find the season of Advent so liberating. We are celebrating the incarnation: the single act where the eternal and transcendent Creator of all that exists, took on human form. I often have the tendency to divorce this fact of history from its Gospel context. The Son didn’t just become man to enlighten us, bring about a new and fresh take on ethics, or to give us a better life; He came to give us the ultimate and greatest gift: Himself. Psalm 51 says: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” All those who belong to Christ rejoice in “[His] salvation.” Not in our salvation, not in our good works, good feelings, or good vibes, but in what He has given us on the cross. Revelation 3 brings it all together: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Herein lies the escape and final liberation from the vanity and hopelessness that Ecclesiastes speaks of. The world cannot give us rest; it will crush us either under the external effects of sin, or under the frustration of seeking rest in its many idols.
God alone is our deliverance. When we reflect on the incarnation, and the purpose for which it took place 2000 years ago in the backwaters of ancient Judea, we find the refuge our souls so desperately seek from a “vain” and fallen world.
I’m a recent graduate from Northeastern University, and a current Boston Fellow at CotC. Generally, I spend most of my time productively. During the Holiday Season, I spend most of my time bemoaning how quickly the Holiday Season is passing.