Have any of you watched Google’s year in search this year? How about the last few years? To say that the world is suffering under the weight of sin is a terrifying understatement! As you sit down to your Christmas feast tonight, others are going hungry. As you cuddle up under blankets in warm houses, others are shivering in the cold. As you make plans for the New Year, remember there are those who have no hope of seeing tomorrow. There is still slavery, there is still genocide, there is still war, and there are still billions of people who live in abject poverty!
When I was a little girl, the only time I would think of these things would be when I received a less than pleasing present. My Mother or Grandma would chime in, “Remember there are little boys and girls who won’t get any presents this Christmas!” Watching the Grinch a miser might think, ‘Why is that such a problem if Christmas isn’t about the gifts, decorations, or food?’ Even so, no one really seems to get into the Christmas spirit anymore. In some places, you’re probably committing some sort of crime just wishing somebody to have a very merry one!
Watching Christmas movies you realize every house is covered in twinkling lights. The ones who chose not to participate standing out like a sore thumb. Looking on Social Media, seasons greetings are half-hearted and robotic. We don’t have time for Christmas anyway! Besides didn’t it start out as a pagan holiday?
We are divided, confused, hurting, angry, and scared… offended. Cindy Lou Who’s song has never been more relevant: Where Are You Christmas? You know, that feeling of peace and joy? The sound of bells ringing, choirs singing, children laughing, and snow falling all around?
That night Jesus entered the world wasn’t really so different…it wasn’t silent. People were divided over politics, religion, and how to raise their kids. God’s people were confused…’Why hasn’t our Messiah come?’ People were hurting from hunger, loss, and every other world problem we’ve yet to solve today. They too were angry, many had traveled for weeks to be counted in the census and pay their exorbitant taxes. Jesus’ own family had to stay in a stable because not one place in all of Bethlehem had any room left!
Yet, His coming was the fulfillment of God’s promise that He would not abandon us in our sin…in the darkness.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”Genesis 3:15
” ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, who I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me, your throne will be established forever.’ “2 Samuel 7:11b-16
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder….For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day wen I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.Malachi 4:2-3
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the LORD’ favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”Luke 4:14-21
God has always kept His promises to us!
This Christmas, though the world is indeed a dark and vile place, we can have hope! I challenge you, not to focus on the darkness but to remember that you are called to be the light! Maybe that is a kind word to a neighbor, a compliment to the kid at school who always seems to be picked on, doing a helpful task for your parents or grandparents, or maybe it’s obeying God’s voice when He calls you to do something out of your comfort zone…
Yes, Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead over 2,000 years ago now but He didn’t leave us! His Spirit lives in the hearts of His children, are you listening for Him? His promise is also with us, that He is coming again to live among us as the conquering King His people expected the first time…He will destroy the sin and darkness of this world because it cannot continue in His presence and there will be joy, peace, life abundant for all who declared with their hearts, their mouths, and their lives that He is LORD!
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.” Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words of wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.Luke 21:8-19
Stand firm, family! Trust in the true Good News of Great Joy that Jesus’ coming, life, death, resurrection and promise represent. These dark days will not last forever but our life with Christ is eternal!
Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!