Joni and Friends Blog

The Fragrance of a Feast

What a week! I’m so thankful for all of your prayers for my health as I am on the road to recovery from COVID-19. My doctors are pleased with how well I’ve responded to treatment, but I do appreciate your continued prayers!

It certainly has been a different kind of Christmas season, hasn’t it? For the first time, Ken and I did not host a nice dinner to thank my girlfriends who help with my disability routines. I didn’t swing by the mall to pick up a gift for my sister-in-law and then stop by Nordstrom’s coffee shop to relax with my friend. Ken and I did not venture out to watch the lighting of the large Christmas tree in the courtyard of our town center. All my Christmas parties were over Zoom and yes, even before my positive COVID-19 test, our plans were to have it just be Ken and me celebrating Christmas dinner together today.

You may not be in an official quarantine like I am, but I bet you’re experiencing a lot of the same things. You’re feeling a keen sense of longing, an inward groaning that this isolation, this sheltering at home is not the way things should be… especially at Christmas!

It’s true. It’s not the way things should be.

When God created the earth, he did not speak pandemics into being. He did not let loose a highly contagious virus that would claim the lives of the very beings he created in his own image. Death and disease didn’t enter the world until Adam and Eve sinned, and ever since, like Paul writes in Romans 8, we groan inwardly with all of creation, longing for redemption.

Historically, the church has used the weeks leading up to Christmas to reflect on this longing… to journey through a season of reflection and expectation; to hold a posture of fasting while looking forward to the feast; to acknowledge the abyss—the darkness of suffering— from which God’s people have always needed rescuing.

It’s why Christmas day is such a joyous celebration! That dark night two thousand years ago, when the birth of a wee babe was heralded by angels… it was as though, at long last, the fragrance of God’s promised redemption had arrived. Ever since (just as if we are hungrily hovering outside the kitchen until we are finally called to the table), we’ve been hungrily longing for the full enjoyment of what that fragrance promised.

Even the best Christmas celebration as imagined by Hallmark or Norman Rockwell is still a mere signpost on the way to what awaits us at Christ’s Second Coming. It’s just as 1 Corinthians 2:9 says…

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

for those who love him”


Friend, you may be missing a Christmas feast today with loved ones gathered all around, but join me in cultivating your hunger for the eternal banquet God is preparing for us. Just how will I be doing that? I’ll be enjoying the fragrance of that great Feast by reading through the Christmas story and reflecting on the ways God has already rescued me. And? Well, I’ll no doubt spend some time “practicing” for that heavenly choir where every tongue and tribe and nation will gather around God’s throne singing,

“Salvation comes from our God!”

And that, I can assure you, will grant me a very merry Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas Day, dear friends, from Ken and me, and all of us at Joni and Friends.

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