ADVENT CONNECTION: CHRIST IS COME

Christmas: Christ is Come

This year as an early Christmas present, I received a Calendar of the Church Year.  Rather than beginning on January 1st, its New Year starts on the first Sunday of Advent, November 28.  Time is marked not by our chosen months, school or business sessions, but by the movements of God, who broke into time and space in Jesus Christ.  The first page is filled by Advent, the four weeks through which we have just passed, weeks of waiting with pregnant expectation.

Today we turn the page.  Today we proclaim that HE IS COME!  The Promised One, the Awaited One, the Son of God is here.  Two things immediately strike me about this new page.  First, it is so spacious.  Each day has been allotted a large portion of the paper.  Here, time is marked differently.  On a full page that usually hosts 28-31 days we find only 12, the 12 days of Christmas.  It is as though this calendar is declaring us, “Stop! Slow down and take notice.  All you have awaiting has come to pass.  These are precious days to receive and reflect upon the gift you have been given, the One who has come.”  So I pray that in our lives we can create these open and welcoming spaces to welcome the coming of our Lord.

The second thing that stands out is the illustration.  Rather than the holy nativity scene, we see Mary again on a donkey journeying with Joseph alongside her.  She is “with child” as in her previous journey to Bethlehem; however, now she holds her son protectively in her arms.  Soon after the angels sang, the shepherds gathered and the wise men from the east worshiped, our new born King is exiled from his own land, fleeing from Herod who seeks him with murderous intent. 

And so, Jesus’ path parallels that of God’s people many years before him, finding refuge in Egypt where his life is spared.  Even in the season of celebration, his mother and father begin to learn that the precious gift this child brings to the world is neither understood nor welcomed by those to whom it is given.  

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.   He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  John 1:9-11

Jesus’ life begins and ends with those he came to save, seeking to destroy him.  Yet this is no surprise to God.  His ways are not our ways.  The journey of his life and love take unexpected turns.  God demonstrates his love in and through the things we often want to erase from the picture.  But it is the fullness of the picture that reminds us of the immensity of God’s love.  His gift in Jesus Christ that we celebrate today is incredible . . . taking on flesh and mortality; the vulnerability and limitations of his own creation.  It’s unfathomable! But the gift becomes even more unfathomable when we add to our understanding his choice to go so far as to bind his power and the powers of all heaven to rescue him when he would be rejected, suffer and die for us. 

So today, as you look upon the newborn babe in Bethlehem with wonder and worship, make space in your life to reflect on, receive and respond to the fullness of the gift given by our heavenly Father.  Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  John 1:12

Prayer:  As when you came 2000 years ago, we welcome you today, Lord Jesus.  We worship you . . . for in love you became one of us.  We worship you . . . for in love you willingly gave the very life you took on, so we could become the children of God.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, that in love you journey with us through every hill and valley, every twist and turn that life brings.  In response to your great gift, we offer the fullness of our lives to the fullness of your great love.  Amen.

Follow this link Darlene Zschech – Hallelujah and join in the celebration, for He is here!

To see John Swanson’s “Flight into Egypt” described above follow this link, http://www.eyekons.com/john_swanson_serigraphs/john_swanson_flight_into_egypt_s

 

Contributed by Pastor Carla Olsen Draper

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