I got a cool gift last weekend.
A friend and I were in a grocery store, walking by the magazine aisle, when she stopped and pointed. "Hey, isn't that the Susie magazine?"
"What?" I stopped and scanned the rack. There it was, set apart from the rest. Not my issue--that won't come out until spring. But this was the first time I'd seen the magazine in stores. For those of you unfamiliar with the mag, you might not be realize its editor, Susie Shellenberger, was the editor for Focus on the Family's Brio, a magazine for teen girls. I always dreamed of for writing for it, and in 2005, the magazine purchased one of my pieces. It was never published and in February of this year, the magazine released its last issue. Thanks to the economy, we lost one of the greatest resources for teenagers across the world. But that didn't stop Susie. Not long after, she launched her own magazine with a vision to create an global sisterhood for teen girls. How cool is that?
Needless to say, I bought the magazine, even though it wasn't my issue. The check out lady saw the mag and said, "Isn't it refreshing to see something else beside Tiger Woods in the media?"
"Yes," I agreed, handing her my money. "I write for this magazine. My article will appear in the spring."
"That's so neat!" She finished ringing me up. "Congratulations. I wish you well!"
So, that was really cool. I didn't see that coming. It was the first time I've been able to tell a stranger like that. Most people in my real life don't know about those articles or even much about my writing (they will one day, but I'm remaining in the closet for as long as possible in order to protect my own sanity). What an awesome moment! Not as great as I imagine picking up my own book will be, but still one of the coolest gifts I could have received. It came at a great time.
So did the reason for this week's celebration.
Between Malachi and Matthew, there were four hundred years of silence--four centuries where the Israelites had to wait without word from God about the coming of His Son. It's called the "Intertestamental Period". Some of the more vigilant were still watching, waiting for the prophecies to be fulfilled. But just imagine it--no one alive knew anyone who'd heard anything new from God. Not even their great grandparents did. During those four hundred years, Israel was in exile some of the time, either taken as slaves or their country was occupied. Heroes like Judas Macabbees helped rescue them for a time. So that's what Israel was looking for: a military, conquering King. What they got was a baby in a manger.
But that was okay. Just give Him time. He'd grow into that Heroic King.
But instead of military prowess and tens of thousands to slain by the jawbone of a donkey, their King ate with tax collectors, let prostitutes wash His feet in public, and healed people on the Sabbath. He died a criminal's death by hanging on a cross.
Then there was that little issue about coming back to life. Now that was heroic, except that the Israelites were still under Roman rule. And now the King's followers were in danger of persecution and death at the hands of both Israel and the Roman Empire.
Definitely not what the people expected. What an unusual gift.
What a perfect gift.
I am so thankful for Christmas and will spend this week savoring every moment that I can. I pray the same for all of you. This will be the last post for the week, so I'll see y'all on Monday! Have a wonderful, beautiful, Merry Christmas. Or as they say in Swaziland, uKhisimusi muhle!
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