Until The Day Of Christ Jesus

I trust that you have been able to enjoy some time this Christmas with family or friends. This week is often a time to relax, reflect on the last year and ponder what lies ahead. As we prepare to say goodbye to 2023 and welcome in a New Year, I want to leave you with a simple verse of scripture: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Each year brings its joys and sorrows. Whatever you have been through, whatever you are hoping for or expecting in the days ahead, know this – God is faithful. And he isn’t finished with you yet. He knows your fears and your dreams. He understands where you are and you can rest in him, full of confidence. Remembering this truth will help carry you through many good and bad days. May you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour in 2024.

Time For Christmas

Many people no longer make the connection between Christmas and Christ, however, Christmas Day remains a prominent holiday. Most folks think it is a time to rest, enjoy family and take a break from all the stress. Maybe do some reflecting before the year is over. All cultures have holidays and festivals that are a part of their rhythm of life. Most of them were rooted at some point in a spiritual significance. Charles Taylor, who wrote A Secular Age says that secularism has flattened time. It has done away with sacred time, the concept of something or someone higher. The days and nights all pass back without any difference. Holidays are just another twenty-four hours.   Yet for believers, there is a higher order of time, something sacred. Christmas is set apart in a special space as it were. Taylor feels our religious holidays have meaning and purpose. He writes that these “higher times gather and reorder secular time. They introduce ‘warps’ and seeming inconsistencies in profane time-ordering.” But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5) There is something about Christmas that is timeless or apart from time. God lives outside of time and when we stop to celebrate his work, he meets us in a profound way. We are drawn closer to the manger scene to adore the Christ child. In the modern, secular world, it is challenging to pull ourselves away and engage in those sacred moments. At Christmas, we often see people who are hungry for something more but are not sure where to find it. As believers, we know the story of God’s love gives meaning and purpose to the rest of our year. We are shaped and transformed by something far greater than ourselves. As you pause to celebrate the birth of the King, I pray that you will be drawn a little closer to him.

Waiting For His Appearance

I haven’t always understood the Advent Season. It really wasn’t a part of my church liturgy growing up. Advent was seen as more of a pre-Christmas preparation period if anything at all. However, Advent was originally intended to give a different focus. In some ways, it was meant to help us understand the dark period of time before Jesus was born. The Romans occupied Israel, life was hard and there was silence from God. People had longed for the Messiah, but he had not appeared. Then suddenly, the birth of a baby takes place and everything changes. God has begun to fulfil his promises. He isn’t finished yet. The season of Advent also teaches us to remember that Jesus will come again. Our world can also seem dark and dangerous. Believers are expecting the return of Christ, but it’s been a long time. Some have begun to wonder if God will keep his promise to return and put evil away. My Advent readings over the last few years have included more passages from Isaiah, a truly amazing book. The prophet foresees the work and ministry of the Messiah, his birth and his return. So, a passage like Isaiah 65:17-19 is an Advent passage: “See, I will create    new heavens and a new earth.The former things will not be remembered,    nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever    in what I will create,for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight    and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem    and take delight in my people;the sound of weeping and of crying    will be heard in it no more.” This is the world we hope for.  Some doubted that a Messiah would ever appear. Some think he will never return. We aren’t to become cynical, callous or lazy. We are called to watch and wait. For at just the right time, our Saviour will appear.

Slowing Down, Making Room

We got a lot of snow this past weekend which always helps prepare you for Christmas. I love this season but sometimes I find all the noise around Christmas can be distracting. The simple birth of our saviour has turned into so many other things.  It’s hard to just slow down and listen to what God might have for us during this month. John begins his gospel account by saying, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) Someone once said, that the coming of Jesus into our world was the beginning of the end. God’s plan for redeeming the world was entering its last stages. This is the hope I try to remember each December. It’s just that there is so much calling for my attention. Philip Brooks wrote the Christmas carol O Little Town of Bethlehem and included these lines: No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sinWhere meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in There is a kind of silent whisper at Christmas. We have to stop to hear it. It’s an invitation to make room for Jesus. It’s the opportunity to pause and reflect on how Christ has changed our world and can change our lives. As John says, “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)