Monday, December 31, 2012

Post-Christmas Reflection: The Three Wise Man and What They Taught Me This Christmas

 During the days surrounding Christmas, I spent a lot of time in reflection about the incarnation and the atonement.

As I looked at Christmas lights, I thought of John’s prologue. As I looked at the angel figurines I collect, I thought of Mary’s obedience in the face of adversity. And then, while riding in a car, I looked up into the night sky and was struck by the beauty of the stars. It made me think of the Three Wiseman and their long journey, guided by a magnificent star.

Matthew 2:1-12 The Visit of the Wise Men
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
 are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
 who will shepherd my people Israel.’”Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 
For some reason the idea of the magi coming from the East, guided simply by a star really caught my heart this year. I thought about the absolute certainty that they must have felt to travel that far; the absolute certainty that they were part of a momentous part of history; the absolute honor they bore him by bringing the newborn king such extravagant gifts. I was just blown away by the significance of that moments and what an honor to be a part of it.

Then I had a thought. Yes, Jesus’s birth and even His death are monumentally significant! But they were part of God’s salvation plan; His plan to draw us near to Him and allow Jesus’ death to allow us to stand righteous before Him. It is because of these significant events that I can have assurance of my eternal life. As such, I get to be part of something truly amazing; the unfolding salvation plan in my world and in my own life.

I pondered about whether I had that same sense of wonder and awe when I consider my unique role in history and God’s plan. The honor is two-fold really; firstly, that Jesus would come to die for me, to give up His own sinless life in my place. Secondly, as an extension of that, that I have eternal life and a role in the kingdom. Too often, I think, I am preoccupied with how difficult I feel like God’s plan for my life is or how much I have to give up that I forget the absolute honor of being adopted into His family, to have a calling on my life.

As this is being posted, it is the last day of 2012. As I pray about what God would have me do; what He would have me pray; what He would have me learn, this lesson is at the forefront of my mind.

That I would continue to make it less about me and more about Him; that I would revel in the absolute significance of this moment, each moment of my life. That I would appreciate each season the Lord has me in; that I would appreciate the honor of being able to be a reflection of His glory. And above all, that I would come to love Him more than ever before. 
Friday, December 21, 2012

We Are Still Here

December 21, 2012. It came and we are still here. Albeit as I write this the day is still young and anything can happen, but let's face it, most of us have treated this prediction of the end mostly as a joke. Did you see the picture comparing the Mayan calendar to the design on an Oreo cookie? Or the one about the Incan guy whose job is was to finish the calendar, but quit and went to have a tequila with his friend? Hollywood decided to make a few dollars and made a movie. Many decided to party like it was the end and do things they would otherwise regret. They are waking up with regret today.

But the reality is that there will be that day. Scripture tells us that in Isaiah, and Daniel, and Matthew, and Thessalonians, and Revelations - among others. We know that. There is a generation who is destined to be the generation who will experience the end. I don't know what it will look like but my theology says that they will see worse things than we can imagine. Although I know God's plan is perfect and that we win, it still scares me. I am not sure I want to be here for it, or my children, or my children's children, or my children's children's children....

So what do we do as we wait or wonder. Peter tells  us what not to do. Do not let yourself be enticed by sensual passions of the flesh by those for whom utter darkness has been reserved. The are loud and relentless in their attempts to lure us. Jesus. on the other hand, tells us to be like the five virgins in Matthew 25, watching and waiting and ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. 

I want to know what that looks like. What do I want my last day to be like - whether it is at the end of time of when Jesus calls me home? And everyday could be my last. I found a treasure in Psalm 40.

But may all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who love Your salvation
say continually, "Great is the LORD!"