When I started writing this post, I was intrigued by how the month of December is welcomed and embraced like none other. Holidays are planned and preparations begin for what is probably the most widely celebrated festival in the world. Christmas trees are set up, cakes and delicacies are baked and dinner get-togethers are organized. Facebook and Instagram feeds are quick to reflect this spirit of celebration, too.
I enjoy decorating our home for Christmas as it adds a warmth to the otherwise cold house . . . baking cakes and the lingering aroma . . . inviting friends and sharing the gospel over a meal and gift exchange.
As a child, I remember being part of numerous Nativity plays. Listening to beautiful devotions on the gospel of Luke, chapter 2. As a family, we would dress up on Christmas morning and go to church. Only after the church service was over did we even greet each other, then finally the festivities began. Once I left home for college, I found there were many different kinds of celebrations, and most of them started way before Christmas day.
Many of us celebrate Christmas remembering what God did for us more than two thousand years ago. How He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus, to be born on earth to accomplish His plan for our salvation. In the last few years, my husband and I have found Christmas to be the perfect time to share with our friends the reason for the season. And the reason for our peace, hope and joy.
Many churches also observe the few weeks leading up to Christmas as Advent -- weeks of expectation and preparation. Reliving the days of the Old Testament believers in eager expectation of the coming of the Messiah. Many also reflect on the Lord Jesus coming again. It's like zooming out on history and seeing the continuum from Creation to Christ and to Christ's return.
This Christmas season I too have been thinking more about Christ’s second Advent. How we, who didn’t really see the Messiah, live in faith and eager anticipation of His second coming. This slight shift in focus started in the last few months, as I have been going through an in-depth study in the book of Revelations with the women at the Bible Study Fellowship. I joined the study more out of curiosity about God’s plans for the end times and to unravel the mysterious and almost terrifying book of Revelations, than to really study God’s Word. But God has been teaching me so much about Himself and His character. No wonder it's called the 'Revelations’, God revealing Himself and not just His plans.
I began to understand how He is not waiting impatiently (with the book of life in one hand and drumming His desk with the other) to unleash His furious judgement on the world but how ‘slow to anger’ He really is. As much as He wants His children to be reunited with Him for eternity, He is choosing to be long-suffering towards those who are not yet His. This totally baffles me, as I would imagine that a God who wouldn’t tolerate sin, injustice and hatred, would be eagerly waiting to let His peace sweep over every act of violence, for His hope to ignite every hopeless heart and for His Joy to reach every broken home. But then, God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
And that’s why He waits.
And we ought to wait, as we share His gospel with more urgency, for His Kingdom to fully come.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21).
And so, I am trying this season, to not just replay the lowly scene at the stable in Bethlehem, but to look forward to the majestic coming of our Saviour, riding on the clouds (somebody should start selling that scene too). To focus, more than before, on our ‘going home’ as you read in a recent post (by Gesly Susan), yet keeping an eye on the rear view mirror. Though I love to celebrate Christ’s first advent as God’s act of immeasurable love, I wholehearted believe that His second advent will call for the greatest celebration the world has ever seen or heard. And to that I look forward this Christmas.
So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:10).
What has the Lord put on your heart this Christmas season?
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