Sunday, December 18, 2011

All is Well

“All is well, all is well.  Angels and men rejoice.  For tonight, darkness fell into the Dawn of Love’s Light.”

What an incredible thought on this fourth Sunday of Advent.  I had the privilege of conducting the choir for one song in this morning’s presentation while the director and his wife did a duet.  The core of the song for the choir was Wayne Kirkpatrick & Michael W. Smith’s All is Well, the words of which I quoted above.  As we ran through this in previous practice sessions and then again today, I was struck by the simplicity yet boldness of this statement.  These are exactly the words God spoke that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago first to the shepherds and then to the world.  Despite over 400 years of silence from His prophets, the “fullness of time” had finally arrived and God told the world in that very strange way that, “All is well and I am still in control.”

A young peasant couple, traveling to a tiny, back-water town simply because of his lineage and a governmental order, find themselves camped out back in the only space available.  Ordinary shepherds, just a hillside away, get the first announcement to go see this child.  And there, among the animals and the most common of common people, God whispers His greatest message to mankind …

“All is well … I’ve sent you My Son as Messiah - just like I’d planned all along.  May you find peace and rest in Him.  All is well.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unexpected, Ignored, and Disregarded

Our living room has an Advent wreath on the coffee table.  On Sunday, we’ll light the third candle which happens to be rose in color based on traditional liturgy.  It is specifically known as the Prophet’s Candle and stands for “Joy”.  Those prophets, in the midst of their messages of warning, pointed to a time when God’s Great Joy would come into the world.  Now, many a scholar had read the words over and over, but when it came down to the actual event, it wasn’t at all what they expected.  In fact, it was so outside of their self-made system of religion, that they ignored and disregarded it … that is to say Him … until the point where He annoyed them enough they sought to kill Him.  But that’s getting way ahead of the story my Advent wreath tells and I’d rather focus on that part of the story this time around.

While multiple scriptures pointed to Bethlehem, that was definitely a town to be ignored and disregarded.  Think of the small, sleepy village bursting at the seams with grumpy people who only went back there because the authorities wanted to count noses.  Then along come this simple carpenter and his pregnant fiancĂ©e late one evening and there isn’t a bed to be found anywhere.  They finally settle with an innkeeper on the use of his stable.  And there, in the most unexpected of places, God places Jesus into humanity to unfold the greatest, if most brief, part of His Master Plan.  To add to the “wrong side of the tracks” feel of it, the only witnesses are some local shepherds - and they weren’t members of high society by any means.

You see, the religious of that day some two thousand years ago, were no different from the ones we see so often today.  They all have some image of who God is or what He demands and it’s just not the truth.  No, the truth is usually unexpected which leads to it being ignored and disregarded.  Sadly, it still happens that way today by the same “religious” people who refused to accept the Humble Jesus in that stable.  It’s just the way thing happen in this fallen world when people make God out to be something He isn’t and never will be.

But the Truth is that we are loved, we are accepted, and God will never ignore or abandon us.  He’s never what the religious ones expect because they can’t fathom He would be that humble and human by nature.  The journey on the Crooked Path is filled with fellow travelers who know the True Jesus and are actively spreading His Story.  It’s almost as if there is a fresh Advent out there that is pointing back to the First Advent and the Second in new ways.  And that’s something I think is worth celebrating this year as I light those candles in my wreath.

May the Joy of the Father overwhelm you and may you also come to see Jesus in a new way this Advent Season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love

The obvious signs of Advent season have arrived at my house.  There is the calendar with the growing Nativity scene (you put something new up every day), the Advent wreath complete with the high-tech candles sits on the coffee table, and the chosen book is there ready to be read each evening.  Even as the girls have grown older, we still love these traditions because they cause us to stop and reflect on the season.  This becomes more important as the world around us seems to move at a faster and faster pace - increasing almost daily in its ability to overtake and overwhelm.

As I did last year, I find I don’t want to rush past the wonder and majesty of an Infant Jesus lying humbly in a stable feed trough.  This is the gateway to the Story of Redemption God is unfolding.  The humanity of Jesus is absolutely critical to the plot and the First Advent is all about His humanity.  We can’t fall for some theological thoughts about his Divine nature being only slightly veiled in the midst of that crude cradle.  We need to understand that He willingly set aside a great portion of his Divine nature so He could go through the complete human experience.  He had to in order to complete the work on our behalf.

My challenge to you is to reflect on the First Advent this year.  Consider the important part it plays in God’s Story.  Seek to understand the impact of the humanity of Jesus.  And perhaps light the weekly candles for Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love as a part of your reflection.