Monday, December 14, 2015

A mash-up: 7 Musings on Advent, Christmas & Epiphany

Originally posted over a 7 week period
in November & December, 2011,
and January 2012; reposted here,
all together, with minor edits.


1

ADVENT MEANS THE COMING OR ARRIVAL OF SOMEONE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Isn’t it interesting that the birth of he who is our Shepherd, the Lamb of God, was revealed first to shepherds?

And what a revelation it was!

These sheep-herders were dutifully going about their thankless business, working the night shift, keeping their sleeping flocks safe.

Over their heads, an angel – a real, live, floating in mid-air angel – materialized in a brilliant glow and scared the chill out of them.

And then a bazillion more angels show up doing a heavenly song and dance number of celestial proportions.  

Bravo! Encore!

The shepherds listened; were shocked and awed; then with knees still trembling, somehow managed to repack their wits and find their way to see – a baby.

Just a baby; yet no ordinary child. But what they saw was only a fraction of who He is.

How much of Jesus do you see? How much more do you really want to see of incarnate Deity?

Open your eyes fully this Christmas!


* * * * * * *


2

“I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!”

We hear this sung-sentiment over and over at this season.

It’s a lovely thought, whether home is where we live, where we grew up, or even the home of dear friends.

To be “home” is to be some place welcoming with people who are familiar. Being home, for most, is cozy and comfortable.

Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem; it possibly was not Mary’s.

Even though there were most likely relatives and others Joseph knew, they didn’t welcome the couple into their homes.

Where they ended up for the night, in a cave-stable, wasn’t particularly comfy.

For Mary, it was very foreign. No relatives were there to help her as she gave birth to her first child.

It was also very foreign for Jesus -- God incarnate. He left the glory of heaven with all the comforts of the home of homes, and landed in a smelly stable to be bedded in the cattle’s feeding trough.

Ta da!

For such a lackluster appearance, His arrival has had a long-lasting impact.

Are you prepared to let Him in this Christmas?


* * * * * * *


3

KIDS LOVE CHRISTMAS.

The mind-numbing anticipation mounts daily as dreams of what they long for become ever more vivid in their heads.

All they want for Christmas is – everything! Now!

For some, wondering what gifts will appear leads to irrepressible snooping.

Like little Sherlocks, they investigate every nook and cranny of the house – basement, attic, garage, crawl space, shed, closets, and cupboards.

Sometimes, finding gifts but stymied by the wrapping, they slyly peel off tape, untie ribbons, take a peek, carefully rewrap, and feign surprise on Christmas day. Not that I have any firsthand experience in doing this.

But the joy of having what they’ve desired is real and unrestrained.

While parents aren’t pleased by this sleuthing, God loves it when we can’t wait to receive the greatest Gift of all. In fact, if you open His Gift before Christmas – any day of the year – God doesn’t mind and you don’t have to re-wrap it.

Are you antsy with eagerness to receive the gift of Christ into your life, fresh every morning? Do you irrepressibly long for everything God offers?


* * * * * * *
 

4
 
WELCOMING MEANS TO RECEIVE ANOTHER with joy and hospitality into one’s presence or home.

It’s the difference between just saying hello and giving a warm hug. As we travel around on the holidays, when we arrive, we hear, “Welcome! Come on in!”

The parents of Jesus weren’t welcomed in Bethlehem. In fact, they weren’t welcomed in Judea and had to flee to Egypt.

Later, the baby Jesus grew up to be despised and rejected and crucified.

But Jesus was, and is, always welcoming.

He chooses the unwelcome, despised, and lowly to be his followers. He does not turn any away.

To receive the welcome of Christ is to receive the greatest gift of all. On Christmas Day, embrace the Reason for the season and welcome Jesus into your heart and home.

Are you ready to extend him your soul’s hospitality?


* * * * * * *


5

“IN THE NEW YEAR, I HEREBY RESOLVE TO…”

Every year, nearly everyone decides to “wake up and smell the coffee,” and rejuvenate their life in some way or another.

Long lists of resolutions get written, scribed with the very best of intentions.

Soon, they tend to fall aside one by one. And then suddenly it’s time to make a new list!

Jeepers! So many resolutions; so little time!

Sören Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”

This flies in the face of all those books that trumpet 3, 7, 10, or 12 easy steps to the perfect Christian life. And it runs counter to our long lists of New Year’s resolutions.

But what is this “one thing” that we should will?

Mary bent her heart to the will of God to obediently bear Jesus. Joseph set aside his intention to divorce himself of his pregnant bride to conform to God’s will.

The shepherds chose to briefly abandon their flocks to do the willing of the angel. And the wisemen left the comfort of their homes drawn by the will of God attached to a star.

Maybe Jesus gave us the best clue when he said, “seek the one thing of God’s kingdom which includes his righteousness, and everything else will come to you in time” (Matt. 6:33). Now that’s one resolution worth pursuing!

What is the one thing you’re seeking this season?


* * * * * * *  



6

THE MAGI, WISEMEN, OR THREE KINGS, traveled to Bethlehem from Persia or Arabia. 

They were men seeking answers, and seeking the son of God. Or, at least someone special whose coming had been foretold.

Jesus was expected!

The wisemen traveled 2000 miles or so by camel. It’s unknown how many people made up their entire travel party, but it’s likely there were several in the group. 

They had their eyes fixed on the star, their hearts filled with expectation.

Before they began their journey, they had been seeking a sign, searching the stars, hunting for the truth, expecting the coming of a king. 

This was no spur of the moment weekend getaway. This was an adventure with a purpose that had deep roots of anticipation.

Are you prepared to meet Jesus this Christmas season?

Are you willing to “traverse afar” over “moor and mountain” to experience the Dayspring?

* * * * * * * 


7

WITHOUT LIGHT, THERE IS NO SEEING.

Without seeing, light is unnecessary; kind of like the saying, “the lights are on, but no one’s home.”

If you get up when it’s dark and don’t turn on a light, you risk a stubbed toe.

If you turn on a light. but then close your eyes, you probably deserve stubbing your toe!

God turned on the light of the world by sending Jesus to a manger and a cross.

Before Jesus came, people stumbled all over the place in the dark looking for the light switch.

Some still stumble, refusing to open their eyes to the Light that’s been revealed.

We are called to be the epiphany to the world. God’s bright idea was to make us his holy light bulbs. We are to bring good things to light as we manifest his truth in the world.

Are you plugged in and turned on? Are those near you fumbling because their eyes are closed or because there’s not enough light?  

Clap on – and shine!





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How do celebrate Advent? What does Christmas mean to you? Do you acknowledge Epiphany? Do any of these seven meditations strike a chord? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Note:
Advent 2015 runs for four weeks: 11/29, 12/6, 12/13, 12/20, and culminates on Christmas Eve 12/24. Christmas Day is celebrated on 12/25, however the 12 days of Christmas extend through January 6, 2016. Epiphany, the 12th day, marks the true end of the Christmas season.

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