Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle all the way!
Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleighâ€¦Heh! James Lord Pierpont (1857)
The Christmas season is here! How do I know that? The music is in the air. The streets are crowded with people making sudden, inexplicable left-hand turns. The stores are packed with decorations and adults with blank, stunned faces being led around by excited children and grandchildren. And the media is constantly telling me which store to visit â€œWe have the perfect gift at your perfect price!â€
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. Luke 2:1-3 (NIV)
Not a department store mentioned in that scene! Hmmm. I guess there was a different â€˜sceneâ€™ happening when Jesus, the Son of God was about to be born! No one knew what world-changing, life-changing event was about to happen. They were expecting a king.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:4-7 (NIV)
Prophecy had foretold that the Messiah would be born from Davidâ€™s lineage. But these people, Joseph and Mary, they were the â€œpoorâ€ relations of that family. Joseph was just a carpenter. There was no king!
So â€“ 2000+ years later, what do I see? Do I see stores and crowds and the media with their catchy advertising? Do I see a plastic baby in a straw-filled manger outside a store or a church or a home? I am a professing Christian so what do I see?
I see a Promise.
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. Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)
The prophet said a â€œGREAT LIGHTâ€ had dawn in a land where the people were living in the shadow of death. That describes my world. I live in a world of shadows but a Light has come!
[Jesus said,]â€œYou are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.â€ Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
â€œâ€¦let your light shine before menâ€¦and praise your Father in heavenâ€ In the midst of the blinking lights and tinsel, the Light that is within me shines much brighter than all of the others. If I get myself out of the way and let just JESUS shine through me, like I am a transparent lantern over a brilliant, perfect flame. People will see the true Promise of Christmas.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:
â€œThe kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever.â€ Revelation 11:15 (NIV)
The Kingdom will continue forever and ever. This is a good time for me to get some practice so I am ready to serve when Jesus comes back. Advent is a time of preparation and expectation. May I live my life in preparation and expectation of the coming of our LORD.