From the Pastor

Christmas Longing

Christmas Longing

Another Advent Season is fast upon us. It is that time. Again.

I can already feel the busyness of the commercial Christmas season creeping in. There was no waiting. The bombardment of ads began immediately after Halloween this year. I’m with King Saul, who according to the ever snarky and satirical Babylon Bee website, attempted to pin David against the wall with his spear for playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. “If you play Little Drummer Boy ONE MORE TIME…”[1]

So how do you avoid the ‘humbug’ attitude this Christmas as well as the sheer exhaustion that is forced upon us? The joyful celebration of the timing of Advent. Listen to the repeated refrain of Advent, the Coming of Jesus: “It is time.” Or as Paul put it, “When the fullness of time had come God sent forth His Son…” (Galatians 4:7)

It’s hard for us to imagine what it was like to live before the first coming of Christ. But as C.S. Lewis put it, life was always winter and never Christmas. It was sadness without a Savior. It was living in suffocating darkness, with the coming dawn nowhere in sight (Isaiah 8:22). It was anguish and gloom, without a burning away of the clouds, by the sun.

Then God said again, only this time about Jesus, “It’s time. Let there be light. “For the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12)

See Jesus coming that first Christmas night, was God’s shouting to us, “It is time! It’s time for my beloved Son to come to earth to taste your sadness. It’s time to repeat the sounding joy." The rocks, hills and trees were ready. The earth, saturated with tears and blood of victims from Abel to Zechariah, was ready. They were ready to join the chorus (Psalm 148). They’ve been longing to clap their hands and rejoice (Psalm 96). Then famously, the angels, unable to contain their joy and wonder, at God’s coming to us, erupted in thunderous song when they saw that “It was time.”

Every song of Christmas in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1-2) celebrates the Eternal Lord of Time, sucking in his first breath here in time, with us. As Mary sung, “It is time. God remembered His mercy to us.” Zechariah praised, “It’s time. God is here. The sunrise from on high has visited us.” The angels preached good news to the shepherds: Don’t be afraid! For Jesus, God of God, Light of Light, who was waiting in the Virgin’s womb, has now opened His eyes in Bethlehem. For unto you a Savior has been born in the city of David. It’s time to sing! Simeon, the faithful servant burst out these words, “The time is now. My eyes have seen your salvation.”

Advent is a time to celebrate God’s timing. We remember the comings of Jesus to cultivate longing and great expectation for Jesus’ final Advent, when that Bright Morning Star brings the dawning of the endless day of rest, rights all wrongs and obliterates all occasions for fear (Zephaniah 3:13). But until that day we wait and remember that Jesus has already come once, for us. How do we do that?

Consider this. Jesus has 3 comings to us. Christmas is the first coming. Jesus came to make the wonders of God’s love known among the nations, to rule the world with truth and grace, and to make His blessings flow as far as the curse is found (Joy to the World). He came to abide with us.

And we know of Jesus’ 2nd coming at the end of all things, when He brings with Him the new heavens and new earth, and the holy city, Jerusalem, dressed as a bride (Revelation 21:1-4). What gets us to that great day? It’s what Bernard of Clairveaux, who was known by the people of his day as a honey-tongued pastor, called Jesus’ third coming to us right now.

Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-us. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 14:23. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Let that sink in. The sunrise from on high, dwells with you, now.

At some point in time in your life, God the Father, said of you and me, “It’s time.” And Jesus sent His Spirit to move you to put faith in our crucified and resurrected Savior, to love and believe in Him and keep His words. And God who is Trinity made their home with you. Jesus came to you. He with you now in time, to chase away the clouds of sadness and gloom. He has not left you as an orphan (John 14:18).

So this Advent season, remember that just as Jesus came in the fullness of time in Bethlehem, one day God the Father will again say to Jesus, “It’s time. Let’s make all things new.” And on that day, the repetition and bombardment will be that of joy and peace, not cynicism and exhaustion. I pray that Jesus will use the Christmas celebration to break through the clouds of busyness and sorrow, and cause you to believe with patience that God will finish the work He started in Bethlehem and will come into time again. Permanently.

May this Advent meditation help you repent, believe the gospel and follow Jesus, our Eternal King together.

Our Advent sermons series, looking at the Songs of Christmas in Luke 1-2, will be working to get your eyes on what another has called Christmas, the “Dawning of Indestructible Joy.”

 

             

 

[1] https://babylonbee.com/news/evidence-suggests-saul-threw-spear-at-david-after-he-played-christmas-music-before-thanksgiving.          

Posted by Nate Thompson with

Take and Eat, All the Work is Done

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One of the songs I have been listening to on repeat the last month is by a lesser known Christian musician called, "Son of Laughter."  In his song, "The Meal We Could Not Make", we have a beautiful reflection on the good news of God's grace in Jesus Christ. 

It is an invitation to bask in the rest of Christ earned through the labor of His blood, sweat and tears poured out for sinners.  I find find it helpful in preparing to take communion, as we will on Sunday.  Listen to the chorus:

So take and eat,
All the work is done.
Stretch out your feet
In the Sabbath sun.
With this bread, old ambitions break.
As we pour the wine, we feel our hungry hearts awake
To the meal we could not make.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He spoke of a deep longing to eat this meal with his friends, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16)  

Just as we long for the day when earth is invaded by heaven and Jesus makes all things new, we also hear our Lord and Savior deeply longing for the meal that is enjoyed with his disciples.  You and me.  If He had a passionate longing to explain the meaning of His suffering, as he was getting ready to despise the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him, how much more is He looking forward to enjoying the meal when all the work is done? So in eating at our Father's table during the Lord's Supper Christians get to taste, by faith, the fruit of Christ's death (His permanent grace) in order to strengthen our hope and longing for that great day!  

One last thought.  Just the name, "Son of Laughter."  It's a reference to Sarah laughing at the idea of having a son when it was humanly impossible at her age.  Enter, Isaac, the son of promise, the son of laughter.  Christians are called sons of God by faith (Galatians 3:26) as well as sons of Abraham.  Listen in again to the lyrics from our song reflecting on these Scriptures:

See the needy and unlovable
And many enemies.
I know that peace has never worked before
But this feast satisfies the thirst for war
For justice has been won
And mercy’s made us new.

We used to joke about the great hereafter
Now he’s made each of us a Son of Laughter
That little hope in you
Is finally coming true

So take and eat…

If you have a seat at the Christ's table, you should laugh! It's a wonderful cosmic joke, which also happens to be true (Matthew 28).  We are saved by grace. We are welcomed into the feast of our Heavenly Father. We were enemies.  And now we are His sons through faith!  So as you prepare for communion this Sunday there may be some tears.  Tears of repentance and sorrow for our cosmic treason and the hurt we have put on those made in God's image. But grace dries our tears (Rev. 21:1-4) and says, "I paid for this meal, take and eat.  Stretch out your feet in the Sabbath sun."

You can hear the song on Spotify and here on Youtube:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjTjJoAMLEo

There's a great interview with the musician here as well if you are interested: http://rabbitroom.com/2018/01/joking-about-the-great-hereafter/

 

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