“The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
The God of the universe is in the middle of your life. If you affirm the Christian faith, you know that we claim God became man and dwelled with us. Yet chew on the fact that throughout the history of God’s covenantal relationship with his people, “God with us” is terribly frightening. God with us makes us quake in our shoes, because God is so unbelievably holy, big, and other.
But then, something happened to change all of this.
As Eugene Peterson puts it: God moved into the neighborhood.
God experienced all that we wrestle with. He experienced unmet desires, pain, rejection, loneliness, sorrow, and death. Yet in his grace we are assured how he will rejoice over his children with gladness and will uplift us in much signing. He sits with us in our pain and glories in our triumphs.
I, for one, am so glad God moved into the neighborhood.
Here, then, Macarius, is our offering to you who love Christ, a brief statement of the faith of Christ and of the manifestation of His Godhead to us. This will give you a beginning, and you must go on to prove its truth by the study of the Scriptures. They were written and inspired by God; and we, who have learned from inspired teachers who read the Scriptures and became martyrs for the Godhead of Christ, make further contribution to your eagerness to learn. From the Scriptures you will learn also of His second manifestation to us, glorious and divine indeed, when He shall come not in lowliness but in His proper glory, no longer in humiliation but in majesty, no longer to suffer but to bestow on us all the fruit of His cross—the resurrection and incorruptibility. No longer will He then be judged, but rather will Himself be Judge, judging each and all according to their deeds done in the body, whether good or ill.
And here we are, Christmas day.
Advent, a time of waiting is over. Today, we rightly celebrate the birth of Jesus, the arrival of the King. Surprisingly, the creator of all things chose to take on a human body and came as a lowly infant. However, if you read the gospel accounts, you might notice that he was rather different than most kings. For years he worked as a carpenter, and then he wandered throughout the countryside of ancient Palestine preaching about the Kingdom of God. He suffered, was crucified, and left for dead.
Something strange happened though; according to hundreds of witnesses this Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. While I cannot go into great detail here why I believe the resurrection actually happened (see Anglican theologian N.T. Wright for more), I will say that this event changes everything.
Don’t take it from me though, look into the Gospel accounts. As sure as the sunrise in the morning, Jesus will return. It might be next year, it could be in the next millennia, but the King shall return. Dear reader, he shall return and put the world to rights. Won’t you place your trust in him today?
So I pray in closing with the ancient church father Maximus the Confessor,
May all of us who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be delivered from the present delights and the future afflictions of the evil one by participating in the reality of the blessings held in store and already revealed in Christ our Lord himself, who alone with the Father and the Holy Spirit is praised by all creation. Amen
On Christmas Day, I want to leave us with two pieces. Chew on these two pieces and I wish you a Merry Christmas.
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Forunto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 ButMary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.