Christmas: Yesterday's Rehearsal for Tomorrow's Advent
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to His temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears? For He will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will refine the Levites and purify them like gold and silver”
Malachi 3: l-3a
Christmas means many things to different people.
For some, it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
For others, it is a holiday to be avoided because of its historic pagan roots and associations.
For some of us, Christmas is a time to reinforce family ties and traditions.
For others-- a season to be endured for the way it accents our loneliness.
For those who have, Christmas is a time to spend what they have.
For those without, it is a time to be reminded of what they do not have to spend.
If it is alright with you, I would like to offer still another perspective….
For the Christian world, I see Christmas as a powerful reminder from history that can teach us how not to look for the Lord's second coming. Christmas can be the opportunity to learn how to avoid the mistakes made before us by those who first expected the Messiah. Christmas can prepare us for tomorrow,
Perhaps you wonder why I would use Malachi 3:1-3 to head a Christmas letter? Doesn't that passage refer to the second coming? What does that have to do with Christmas?
The answer is, it has everything to do with Christmas. For, you see, it was on the basis of this prophecy and others like it that the Jews expected the Messiah to come the first time.
But what happened? The Lord bypassed everyone's scriptural understanding of how He was to come such that, naturally speaking, His coming was quite unexpectable.
As we read the Christmas story, we go on to learn that the only ones who were able to perceive and participate in the Lord's Advent were the handful of saints who had the spiritual sensitivity to be able to receive the Father's revelation in the critical hours at hand-- Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna, some shepherds and foreign magi. That was all.
We see that outside of these few, the nation-at-large was left in the dark. Their careless, assumptive scriptural understanding was not enough to prepare them for the coming of the Lord. Really, given the size of the nation with its numerous scriptural teachers and scribes, the small number of people able to receive the message and participate in the Christmas story is indeed remarkable.
What then does Christmas mean for us? What can it mean for us?
For us Christmas can either be a time of mere looking back, a time of using our nostalgic images of the nativity to reinforce our private self-indulgences among one another. Or else it can be a motivator to shake ourselves awake, to learn from history, to remind us of how a supposedly spiritual people were not ready for the Lord they expected to come "at any time".
Christmas can put us back to sentimental sleep, or we can turn it to our advantage to hone our spiritual readiness. As we watch Europe coalesce through the demise of the Iron Curtain, as we listen to the U.S. President speak of the "family of nations", we know that once again, the critical hours are upon our generation. The Advent of the Lord once again draws near.
Do we rest in the assumptive knowledge of our scriptural eschatology as they did that very first Christmas? Or are we sharpening our ears that we might have the spirit of Mary and Joseph, of Elizabeth and Zacharias, and of Anna and Simeon? Will we be among the New Israel-at-large who miss out on The Return through our faulty power of expectation, or will we be among the few awake enough to participate in the nearing revelation?
This is what Christmas means to me, and what I hope it might mean for you. Personally, I have lost my natural capacity to expect the Lord. I realize the bankruptcy of my understanding. But I do have the heart desire to receive the revelation when He comes, and to participate in the events at hand before us. I hope you might share my desire, too.
With these thoughts, I close by wishing each and every one of you a watchful Merry Christmas!
written from Merrimack, New Hampshire
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created June 16, 2015