Automatic Renewal

“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” – Lamentations 5:21

Traditionally the prophet Jeremiah, who witnessed the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., is thought to be the author of Lamentations.  Perhaps the most spiritually tortured of the prophets, Jeremiah had a lot to lament.

Jeremiah saw the divine judgment on Jerusalem, among the lowest earthly moments in Israel’s history.  Whether Jeremiah penned Lamentations or not—technically its writer is anonymous—the book, says my NIV study Bible, “poignantly shares the overwhelming sense of loss that accompanied the destruction of the city, temple, and ritual as well as the exile of Judah’s inhabitants.”

Lamentations, which follows Jeremiah in the Old Testament, is a deeply poetic and heavily structured cry that complains not about God’s judgment but about Israel’s disobedience. “Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean…” (Lamentations 1:8)

I bring this up just before Christmas not as a lament that the sincere “Christmas message” about hope and Jesus tends to get lost in the secular swirl of commercial Yuletide largesse, but because I notice throughout history that God keeps coming back for us.  He does it every year at Christmas.  It’s like an automatic renewal offer on a life insurance policy, and it extends over many eras.  We must return to Jesus.

I was surprised to learn just recently, for example, that Christmas Day, December 25, formally became an official United States federal holiday not until June 26, 1870, and then by decree of President Ulysses S. Grant.  Yes, it was right after the Civil War and it provided a common point of celebration and reconciliation for severely torn and previously regionally isolated national cultures.  Before that Christmas was barely noticed, gift-giving was basically unheard of, and in America, school was in session.

But notice this.  Just then in history—1870—as science in both Europe and America academically began to overtake theology, philosophy, and the thinking arts, that is precisely when Christmas was installed here as a national holiday.  The scholarly world was falling for Darwin and technology; and Christmas was put on the calendar.

Looking back you could almost see it as a place-holder for America to re-find its Christian bearings.  Christmas became popular at precisely the point in history that science sought to nullify Christ.  Jesus never goes away very far.

Christmas, a 4th-century Roman creation, is not mentioned in the Bible.  In fact, no holidays, feasts, temples, or festivals are prescribed in the New Testament.  The Old Covenant of Israel had all that stuff as a way to be in the presence of God, but the New Covenant in Christ teaches that God’s love is in our hearts everywhere, all the time.

“Old Fashioned Christmas”?  I’d say that didn’t even exist much before the 1930s, or maybe the post-World War II American cultural reset.  It is interesting to note the centuries-old development of celebratory Christmas traditions—trees, gifts, wrapped gifts, lights, Santa Clause, music, greeting cards, family gatherings, community events, feasts, and charity services—that are really developments of the last century or two.

Many of us do not need Christmas to remember Christ.  But for many others, it provides an automatic renewal of a reminder that Jesus is a very big deal.  It’s up to us to tell the story of God’s love, and I notice God is right there willing to help us.

Walters ( loves Jesus but is a sucker for Christmas traditions.  BTW, here is a link to an interesting article about the development of Christmas traditions: Christmas in 19th Century America | History Today. For more of Walters’ columns, see For his books, see

A Reminder to Remember

I am beginning to identify with Jeremiah, the one called “the weeping prophet.” Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I am one who weeps.  
Each time my fingers tap out the words to send from my heart to yours, this thought runs through my brain, “Maybe I should write something that has a lighter feel.” And each time God whispers to my ear that there are so many people hurting, struggling, wounded, and uncertain about the future. I count myself one of the many.

We truly want to finish well the race that is set before us. But in the spirit of authenticity, sometimes I find my faith teetering on the fence of doubt. 

Perhaps the days of lightheartedness will come soon. I hope so. 

But for now, we are called to-

lock arms 
hold one another up 
offer grace when one stumbles
lift each other up
and take one more step in this heavenly race.

We are to remember that this world truly is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14). There is a glorious place waiting for us. But until we stand face to face with Christ in all of His glory, we must remember we are ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We are called to bring what’s up there down here in our day to day lives. We are reflectors of grace, set apart for a greater purpose.

We are called to know Him and the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). Confession time. We have all seen that crazed football fan. The one who paints his/her face with the team colors and roars with every advancement of the ball down the field then jumps up punching the air with his/her giant sponge hand when the team scores.  That’s me when I hear the first part of this verse, “the power of His resurrection.” YES!!! Go, God! That’s what I want to see, the resurrection power. 

As I reflect on this verse in light of so many who find themselves in life’s hard places, there is a clearer message coming into view. There can be no resurrection power without death first. Wow! I never saw that before. 

Maybe today you are experiencing a death of sorts–the death of a dream, a job, a relationship, health, or expectation. My friend, these are the places where His resurrection power breathes life into dry bones. 

Every victory won was first a battle fought.
Each body cured, was first a disease diagnosed.
All mountain top views were reached by trekking the valley.

This week’s “Hope for the Journey” is less organized in thought than I am comfortable with.  However, it seemed fitting to take a step back and remember some truths about who we are and who we are called to be. Suffering never negates the greater purposes of God or our identity in Him. 

Stand strong, dear one. Hold tight to His promises. Live with your eyes wide open to…

His divine peace
His miraculous ways
His overwhelming joy
His unexplainable presence
His extravagant love
His wondrous grace

This is our God!
Remember Him and live in awe.

Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey,

Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.