My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 

In art, there is a technique called chiaroscuro. This depicts the focal point of a painting or drawing in intense light, contrasted against surrounding tones of deepest black. The power of the work comes from the tension of the intense darkness alongside the brightest light.

As I ponder Christmas and what it means, I am drawn into the moments immediately after Christ’s birth; I am drawn into this “stop” in time. For a brief moment, there is sheer quiet and pure blessing. As Mary and Joseph hold their baby in their arms, everything outside of the moment pauses; everything else can wait. This is the moment of birth… before life and its realities have a chance to filter in.

This is a moment of living chiaroscuro…..blackness surrounds a moment of pure light.

As a perfectionist, it is especially hard for me to live within the tension of the “both/and, good/bad” of life. Such amazing beauty and abundance, yet there is always the pain of brokenness. Somehow I know that without the contrast of darkness, the beautiful abundance could not be appreciated. The side-by-side reality of darkness and light gives life its depth just as it does art. According to Psalm 42:7, “deep calls to deep,” and Ecclesiastes 3:11, “we have eternity written on our hearts.” Whether we like it or not we long for deep abundance as it was created to be and we experience it on the sharp edge of the “both/and” mystery.

In this quiet moment of Christ’s birth, the brightest light breaks into the deepest darkness of our realities. Christ personifies the “both/and”…..God and flesh….and His dwelling place is no longer in a temple, or a city, or a people….it is among us, all of us.

Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace….dwells with us and within us. Our lives remain within the “both/and” of light and darkness but we are not alone. God will never leave us or forsake us; He is our shield and defender, our refuge, our foothold. He hears and answers our cries; He is a God who sees….even when our hearts and our strength do fail.

But our deepest “both/and” security is eternal, our Judge is also our Redeemer. Christ knows the price has been paid for our way into His eternal arms because He paid it….beginning by being born….holy light into our broken darkness.

This is a moment of awe.

“My strength and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”…to eternity.

This is Christmas, be blessed.

-Chaplain Sheri