Tuesday, December 25, 2007

two thoughts on christmas

the last two days i've read the christmas story from matthew and luke.  there were two things that struck me particularly.

i was really trying to get a good feel for the anticipation of the Christ.  i tried to imagine myself as a pre-Christ Jew.  God has been silent for 400 years.  i know that the Christ is supposed to be coming.  i've been trying to live in obedience to the Law.  i imagined that the excitement and anticipation in Israel must have been palpable.  

but then i then i thought about today.  i thought about how we still are expecting the second arrival of Christ.  i thought about how we have been waiting 2000! years.  i thought about how i have the holy spirit and yet i still don't always feel like God has spoken to me in a long time.  i thought of how i don't anticipate the second coming of Christ that much at all on a regular basis.

i realized that maybe the excitement wasn't there.
i realized that there were many religious people who were just going on with their normal lives as God was sending His Word to become flesh.

no wonder Jesus was born in a manger with only a couple of shepherds and gentiles as his visitors.

but, then there is simeon.

this is what the scriptures say about him:
"[he] was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ."

this is a man who was longing for the Kingdom.  he was daily anticipating the arrival of the Christ.  and when He came he was ready!

oh, how i pray that we would be like simeon...daily anticipating the second coming of Christ.

as protestants, we have done a great disservice to mary.  in an effort to correct the near deification of mary by the roman catholics, i think we have overlooked her significance.

this is what was said about mary:
_an angel calls her "favored one" and then says, "you have found favor with God!"
_elizabeth says, "blessed are you among women"

mary herself has a brilliant poem called the magnificat:
"my soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the
humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever."

for me, the most significant piece is that out of all the women in the world God chose mary.  she was the one in whom God found favor.  she is the one considered worthy to bear the Christ child and rear him.

mary, mother of Jesus.




let those words sink in.

mary was the mother of the one we call savior.

she doesn't need to be worshipped, but we shouldn't negate her significance simply because others choose to do so.

as we celebrate jesus today, let us not overlook the sweet fact that God has chosen us, even in our humble estate, to play our part in the story of redemptive history and that one woman was found favored enough to carry Christ in her womb.

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