Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - A Christmas Devotion

1. The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus
2. it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
3. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
5. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6. then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
7. the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
10. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35: 1-10

Christmas, we know the story, Mary and Joseph, a child in a manger, the wise men, singing angels, cowardly sheep herders, Herod killing the babies, gold, frankincense, myrrh, not to mention the carols and songs and so forth and so on. We also generally have fond memories of, and an appreciation of at least some of the more secular elements that have come to be associated with the season like lights and food, trees, squadrons of flying reindeer and silly fat men in red suits. It is often for us, as Beryl Ives’ sang so long ago “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” This is true for me too. Some of my fondest and earliest memories are of Christmas. It is a good time of year.

Brain researchers tell us that we can only remember about 10 or 20 days in our life. I don’t think that is accurate. It seems that I can remember more parts of just Christmases than that. But maybe they mean whole days not moments so I can’t really know for sure.

Memories are wonderful but increasingly this year I have found my self not looking back to the ghost of Christmas Past but forward to that second Christmas still to come, a Christmas that isn’t the child in the manger but rather the Savior on the white horse. Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m just homesick or tired, maybe some of both. But when I stop and think about it, maybe not. My hope, our hope lies in the Jesus raised from the grave not Jesus crying in the manger.

God’s justice will come with the Second Advent as God’s salvation came through the First and I long for that second Advent. I grow weary of the injustice in this world. I grow weary of seeing evil called good and wickedness praised as virtue. I grow weary living in this world that groans beneath the sin of Adam. I long for a place where everything beautiful has not been touched by pain. I want to live in a land where truth is not associated with hand grenades or love with sadness. I grow increasing impatient for the world to be made new and for every tear to be wiped from every eye, forever! Yet, all I have is a child in a manger. Whatever my longing, whatever my fears, whatever my hopes and dreams or desire to see justice, no matter how fervent and heart felt my prayer I have only a child in a manger.

That child lying in a manger was God lying in the straw, an incomprehensible thought.

Upon further reflection, that is enough. For that child in a manger knows, and cares, and weeps and died so that one day all the things I rage about will be put right. He grew up knowing far more than I ever will of the sinfulness of the world. He never despaired. He laughed and loved and made merry with his friends and disciples. He cared for those around him. He knew our sin and He loved us in spite of it.

That child lying in a manger was God lying in the straw, an incomprehensible thought.

The hope of the world.
The Mighty God.
The Everlasting Savior.
The Prince of Peace.

That should be enough to make anyone glad and enough to give anyone hope. So, almost in spite of myself, I find myself being merry and looking forward to Christmas. It is “The most wonderful time of the year.”

From me and mine to you and yours:
Merry Christmas

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who wishes you a merry Christmas

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