A number of years ago, when the new Star Wars movies were coming out, my boys received a gift of a puzzle with Anakin Skywalker in the foreground. If you look closely at the shadow that Anakin casts, you will see the outline of Darth Vader. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movies, Anakin has the power to do great things. But he gives in to the 'dark' side and succumbs to his anger and hatred. He becomes known as Darth Vader, a villain intent on destroying the 'good' side.
As I sat in church yesterday, it seems hard to believe that it was the first day of the Advent season. I enjoyed seeing our church decorated for Christmas. As I noticed the beauty around me, my eyes were drawn to the nativity scene at the front side of the church. Typically it is placed on a table in front of the pulpit. But this year, the table is off to the side, directly at the base of a 15-foot cross. It seemed almost ironic.
And yet.... when Jesus was born, perhaps there was the shadow of the cross on the wall of the stable, foreshadowing why He came to earth. "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6
As I live my life, I need to ask myself, "Am I living in the shadow of the cross?" In other words, am I mindful of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for me? As we start this Advent season, I feel this is an appropriate time to reflect on the baby in the manger, but also the man who gave His life for me on the cross.