The word is full of meaning… for some holding the happiest of hopes, for others it represents the saddest stories of all. How can one word mean so much? On the one hand, so much expectation that we can hardly wait for the coming of Christmas– and at the same time its anticipation crushes us, bringing disappointment and despair?
On this first day of December, this so very meaningful month, we offer again something we published several years ago, two short pages written by a wonderfully wise woman, Marianne Radius. Who was she, and why does her work matter to us?
More than a hundred years ago, Geerhardus Vos was a professor at Princeton Seminary, and in those years began to write about the Story of all stories, calling his work, Biblical Theology, setting forth of a way of seeing Scripture as a story, one beginning in creation and ending in consummation, writing about its complexity with remarkable depth and insight. Before anyone began to write about “narrative theology,” making it the next great thing, Vos gave to the world a brilliant reading of the history of redemption, arguing that we learn the truest truths about God and his work in the world by paying attention to the unfolding story that the Bible is.
In those same years his wife Catherine wrote The Child’s Story Bible, which families throughout the world read with great devotion, teaching their children to see all of life through the spectacles of Scripture. In her way own way, she told the same story as her husband, but did so for little people. In the next generation Marianne Radius, daughter of Geerhardus and Catherine, took up her parents’ labor, offering a two-volume story of this same story, the Old Testament and the New Testament, calling them The Tent of God and God With Us, “Immanuel” from beginning to end.
And now, two generations later we have a wonderful telling of this same story in The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, who drew on this rich tradition from the Vos family pastorally taught through Tim Keller, himself a student of this same tradition of “biblical theology,” teaching the thread of redemptive history all the way through. In our family, from grandparents to children to grandchildren, we have read these stories night by night, year after year, from Vos to Radius to Lloyd-Jones. Why? Because getting the story right is crucial, teaching us the truest truths about God, ourselves and the world.
As December begins, we offer the first chapter of God With Us, simply titled, “Waiting for Jesus.” I know of no better way to begin Advent than one more year reflecting on Radius, hearing her remember what the Story is and why it matters.
So, a gift to you, and to yours, as you enter into the days of December.