THE MYSTERIES OF CHRISTMAS: Many Millennia, Many Mysteries, One Messiah

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You may download and print this booklet, but the quality will be far inferior to the professionally printed booklet

The coming of Jesus has always been shrouded in mystery. In his first coming, as a baby in Bethlehem, thousands of years of mysterious promises were resolved and realized—and not always in ways God’s people expected. His second coming—at the End of All Things—is also shrouded in mystery. No one even knows the day or hour he’ll reappear. These 25 meditations look back on the mysteries of the Messiah’s first coming and look ahead to the mysteries of his second.

Artist’s Note about the Artwork
This cover image amalgamates parts from all the illustrations. As C. S. Lewis encouraged his readers to turn the page and go “further up and further in,” I’ve designed this image to be ambiguous, inviting the viewer to discover more.

The right hand (with a nail mark in the wrist) makes a gesture of benediction, and the left hand (without a nail mark) appears to move to connect with the right hand. Both hands hold the open celestial space at the threshold of some inexplicable entity. In my mind, the hands hint at the dual-natured person of Christ; the star-birth/black hole-death bewilders at the sublime power of the Father; and the molecular starscape fascinates at the ethereal potency of the Spirit.

Read devotions individually online below.

Artist’s Note about the Artwork
For this concept, I’m picturing my own hand reaching toward a bright light, seeking answers. I created this light from both the birth/death of a star and an all-consuming black hole, envisioning the mind of God as an inexpressible paradox.

Artist’s Note about the Artwork
Molecular clouds begin forming shapes of hands, implying a gesture of offering directly to you. Stars congeal, coming toward you in Greek letterforms (λόγος), the original language in which the gospels were written. This is what I imagine when I recall the apostle John’s first words to us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). That Jesus of Nazareth is himself the one and only Eternal God is the message that another John—the Baptist, the Messiah’s messenger—was called to share.

Artist’s Note about the Artwork
My springboard for this image was a chorus in Handel’s Messiah: “Let us break their bonds asunder”—a reference to Psalm 2, where people “plot in vain . . . against the LORD.” I’m conflating that bondage with the Lord’s exoneration in Psalm 102: “From heaven the LORD looked upon the earth . . . to release those condemned to death.” In my mind, there is no better news than to be pardoned from one’s resistance against God, to be released from one’s self-inflicted shackles, to be freed from death.

Artist’s Note about the Artwork
In this image we see ethereal hands, with wrists wounded, pierced, lightly lifting a golden circlet. Is it Christ crowning himself, or is it a crown for you? I picture it as both, for “in Christ [we] are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26) and “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

A Note about the Artist

Charis J. Carmichael Braun grew up at “the College” in New Ulm: Her father taught physics at D/MLC, and her mother modeled courage and selflessness. Charis’s parents encouraged her to be curious and creative, to marvel at the indefatigable wonders of God’s creation. Charis studied art, theatre, and graphic design at Bethany Lutheran College, and then earned her MFA at the New York Academy of Art, where she learned artistic anatomy and historic techniques within a contemporary framework.

Feverishly striving to balance work and life, Charis manages visual communications at Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, is coordinating an interior “refresh” for her church, serves on the leadership team for the Alumni Association of the New York Academy of Art, and has taught art history as an adjunct professor at Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota, and Farmingdale State College in New York. With her husband, Charis lives and works on Long Island, where they attend Grace of God Lutheran Church in Dix Hills, New York.

The artist can be reached at