REWARD OF THE PIOUS . . . Our Lord says, “It is done”

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Reference: Revelation 21:5-7)

It is done. All the prophesies and foretelling has come to fruition. The holy child is laying in the manager, and Mary and Joseph are keeping watch over their sleeping child. The shepherds are coming, and the Wise Men will be following shortly after. The songs and praises of the from the heavenly choirs still ring in the air. And the star of Bethlehem shines on.

It is done. The weeks of shopping and wrapping are over. The Christmas feast is planned and ready to be laid on the table. Friends, neighbors, relatives and honored guests are congregated at tables and in living rooms across the country. Children of all ages are being watched over as presents are unwrapped, oohed and aah-ed over, and enjoyed. And the Christmas decorations twinkling brightly in households across the globe.

It is done. God has sent to us a means for salvation. God’s love has been made manifest in a way that cannot be ignored. And it will not be. It has not been. I doubt there is anyone on any continent that does not know about the Christian faith, even if it is not a faith they profess.

But in a way, it is just the beginning. Soon the new year will be coming. New hopes and new possibilities. Just when you think things have come to an end, they have a habit of beginning again. The writer of Revelation says that the Lord is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega. The Lord was there at the beginning and will be there at the end.

What God made manifest over two thousand years ago, we can began telling, believing, and living again and again. The Promise that came through the life and death of Christ will always be renewed. We have been and will be again, children of God.

May this day and this season find you with friends and family, loved ones all. And may the Christ who was born this day many lifetimes away be born in you anew in the coming year. Selah! And the merriest of Christmases!

 

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Week of Christmas, Proper II: Come see what we have waited for!

Today’s scripture passage is taken from the grouping of scriptures in Proper II. The other scriptures are Isaiah 62:6-12, Psalm 97, and Titus 3:4-7 – all good scripture passages. But I have chosen the Nativity story.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)

When I think on this passage, the first thing I think of is Mary giving birth in an unfamiliar town in rough and unwelcoming conditions. The event she had been waiting nine months to come to pass was here. Giving birth is not easy; and certainly not easy when you are young and away from home. The book of Luke makes it sound so easy; it was time, she gave birth, and wrapped him as was the tradition. And then I am sure she looked at the child she had been waiting for!

Our wait, beloved reader, has been much easier. Oh, we say it is hard to wait. Especially after so much hurry and preparations. It is my hope that now that the waiting is just about done that we will take time to consider, and appreciate, what we have been waiting for.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12)

The opposite of waiting, beloved reader, is not being aware of what is coming to pass. There was a time, a couple thousand years ago, when people lived without knowing Jesus Christ. (Of course, in a sense, there are still people in this day who do not “know” Jesus Christ.) To them there were all types of people (Jews, Romans, Greeks etc) and each group had their own God and worship practices. Little did they know that the coming of the child, this Savior Messiah was to change forever they way people believed.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:13-20)

Suddenly! The wait was over! In one instant everything changed! The shepherd saw it. The wise men saw it. And from that point on, people who saw, meet, and came to know Jesus (int all sorts of ways and meanings) saw that things had changed.

But, you may say, it is the same decorations, the same celebrations, the same traditions from year to year. What has changed for us? Indeed, beloved reader, what has changed for you? We have “waited” through four weeks. Has anything changed? That is the challenge. To not just go along in our same old paths, doing the same old things, but to find fresh and new God and Jesus Christ in our life and in our world.

This season of Advent and Christmas has been the opportunity to see things new and fresh, to renew and recommit yourself to our Lord God who so desired that the world knew their Lord that God sent the God-self as a child into the world.

I wrote this to be posted the day before Christmas so that you might be reminded of what the waiting has been for. It is my hope and prayer that the actual day of Christmas will be filled with the joy and love of family and friends, and the presence of God and Jesus Christ in your hearts and spirits! Selah!

NO MURMURING OR ARGUING . . . Silence before the Holy Child

“Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Philippians 2:14-15b from Philippians 2:12-18 )

More often in the past few days I have looked back to see what I wrote five years ago. I have done this somewhat with an eye to make sure I did not go “off course” in my interpretation and exegesis. Fortunately I did not. But when I re-read what I wrote for Christmas day five years ago [ “Christmas in the midst of fallen generations” ] I had to wonder how I was going to improve on that.

But what caught my eye this year was something different than five years ago; the writer of Philippians tells us to be “ blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish.” Well, that reminds me of baby Jesus. And all other babies I have seen – not just my own! Who cannot wonder and marvel at a baby. All the possibilities in the world rest in a baby. And none as much as baby Jesus.

With all that goes into the Christmas season, I have to remind myself to still myself and imagine baby Jesus at peace and sleeping. It reminds me that God that did not want to be at a distance from creation and humanity, but wanted to be a part of it and in the midst of it. What better way to do that then to merge with humanity and walk that earth that the Divine created.

May you gentle reader take time from your busy schedule to breathe in the wonder of the Christ child, silencing all the noise and distraction so that you might focus on the purity and innocence of the season. Selah! And shalom for your day!

Culmination of Advent – Christmas Day

I have heard a great deal from friends and family that they do not feel they are ready for Christmas. It is a common theme, and usually means they have not decorated, baked/cooked, and shopped in preparation for Christmas Day. But Christmas will come whether we are ready or not. And that is okay. Because the most important preparation for Christmas is readying our hearts and spirits, and not our home and hearths. That is what Advent is for, to ready our hearts and spirits for the coming of the baby Jesus.

Consider this; Mary was not very ready for the birth of this child. She had no secured and save place to be in labor. She did not have a female family member or friend to be with her. She laid her baby in a manager instead of a specially prepared bed. Luke 2 verses 6b to 7 says, “While they were there [in Bethlehem], the time came for her to deliver her child.And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” That does not sound like very much preparation to me. And consider this, that while the world needed a Savior and Messiah, the world was not ready for that Savior to come in the form of a baby. No, NOT being ready for Christmas seems to be a tradition started long ago.

Christmas morning comes whether we have all the preparation done that we think we need to have done. And if you are ready this, it has already come! But there is still time to open your heart to the baby Jesus, and bid him welcome to your heart and soul. It does not take tinsel or tree, decorating or baking, nor even presents and wrapping paper. It only takes a whispered prayer and an open grateful heart. Merry Christmas gentle reader! Selah!