Fourth Sunday in Advent
The light of the angels who heralded the Good News of Light to a darkened world.
As early as Abraham, angels anticipated a descendant “through whom all nations would be blessed…” The Scripture today focuses on the role of angels in anticipating both Advents – the First and Second Coming of Christ to earth – as well as the culmination of earthly history in a new order, a new Creation.
Recorded angelic activity reached an unprecedented flurry immediately preceding the birth of Christ as they prepared the “key” characters – Zechariah, Mary, Joseph – for their roles in the life of the coming Messiah. What “birth announcement” could compare with the angel’s appearance to the shepherds followed by the glorious company of angels praising God and saying “Glory to God!” It is no wonder that music plays such a prominent place in the history of celebrating the birth of Jesus!
As tension builds as action accelerates in the final day before Christmas, let us remain attuned to the many touches and glimpses of grace this season. May we not miss the protecting, proclaiming, praising angels who shimmer about us mortals so often preoccupied and unaware of God’s matchless grace.
What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our Heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!
Heart, ear, and eye, and everything
Awake! The while the active finger
Runs division with the singer.
Identify the role of angels in each of the following accounts:
– Zechariah (Luke 1:11-19)
– Mary (Luke 1:26-38)
– Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25)
– Shepherds (Luke 2:13,14)
“. . .He became poor for your sakes so that His poverty might make you rich.
11 Corinthians 8:9b
Once upon a time there lived a king who had power over all nations and peoples. His courts were of richest splendor; his tables were heavy with finest food. Music and laughter and gaiety floated from inside the castle and it was always light. Clouds wrapped it in ethereal majesty. Travelers always stopped and looked at the castle for a long while, wishing they might know the kings who had built the marvelous structure. But none were able to reach it.
In the cold of winter, the king’s tailor entered the royal chambers with his latest sketches for the king’s wardrobe. The little man was proud of his accomplishments. He had selected the finest materials and woven them into the most beautiful garments that eyes had ever seen. They glittered like gold.
But the king was not pleased. He ordered his tailor out, vowing to make his own clothes. No one but the king knew what he wanted. The door to the throne room was shut and locked. Weeks passed, and from inside came the clacking of the loom. The royal court waited with anticipation to see what the king would make for himself. They knew they were bound to be blinded by the glory of it. Finally the awaited day arrived. The doors opened and the king appeared.
Everyone, especially the tailor, gasped in surprise and horror. His Majesty was dressed in the simplest, cheapest, most unkingly garments imaginable. He had the choice of the world’s finest materials, but he had chosen to wear the clothes of a beggar.
“I am going into the valley,” he said quietly.
“Do you remember the generosity of Jesus Christ, the Lord of us all ? He was rich beyond all telling, yet He became poor for your sakes so that His poverty might make you rich. 11 Corinthians 8:9
Our Door to the Nativity
“Today. . . a Savior has been born.”
The Incarnation – God became man! Jesus Christ, the Son or God, the second person of the Trinity was and is God Incarnate. It is difficult to grasp the importance of this biblical truth. The Son became a man and so He knows first our condition. He struggled in this life, with all of the same difficulties that you and I have to face. Within the first two years of His life alone battled jut to live – surviving the un-sterile birthing room of a a stable, escaping the homicidal rampage of a jealous puppet king (Herod), and withstanding the dangers of His family’s exodus through the wilderness into Egypt.
Jesus’s identification with us did not end there. He knew love and laughter. He knew pain and sorrow. He knew the cold kiss of betrayal and the lashing tongue of mockery. He knew temptation. He knew friendship and leadership. He knew servanthood and compassion. In all things He was just like us save one – He never, ever sinned. Thus He could become our perfect, holy sacrifice.
At Christmas we give gifts as we remember the greatest gift the world has ever known – Jesus Christ. When we remember we must remind ourselves that Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, who came to live among us, also died purposefully so that He might return and dwell within us, by His Holy Spirit.
This day in your homes you are more than likely exchanging gifts and sharing a meal together with family or friends. Some of you are singing carols around the table or sharing stories of thanksgiving while others are outside teaching their child how to ride the new bike or tossing the new football perhaps. In the midst of all this, let us remember that Jesus Christ came to earth to be with us. If He were here with us in the flesh, He would most certainly delight in these moments. Still in a very real sense He is with us: Emmanuel (“God with us”). By His Spirit that dwells within us and unites us to Christ He is still here touching our lives, dispensing His grace for salvation, and making us holy and blameless for life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Today, of all days, seek Christ. Find Him in His Word. Search Him out through prayer. Go after Him in the fellowship of the Spirit you share with family and friends. Be like the shepherds who left their flocks in the hills to find the babe in a manger. Seek Him out, knowing He has already found you! Merry Christmas!!!
To see Advent postings from Week Three, click here.
To see Advent postings from Week Two, click here.
To see Advent postings from Week One, click here.