Thursday, December 8, 2011

I always try to get inspired to “feed the flock of God” during the Christmas season.  My reason for preaching, teaching, and writing is it has everything to do with beginnings.  Mark’s Gospel begins with this statement, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  Beginnings are important because if you’re off here, you’ll be off about other critical things as well.

One of the figures of this drama and the unparalleled event of God becoming a man was a man named Simeon.  His testimony was summed up in (Lk.2:25) “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”  This statement talked about a believing remnant in Israel, and it was almost like “code” for those who carried with them and held on to the hope of the promised Messiah who would answer every need in the human heart.  Hope was a precious commodity in a dying nation.  The Jews had been carried into captivity, many of them living in exile and slavery.  Many were cynical, faithless, and embittered.  Still, some yearned for the great days of the kings of the past, the glory of David and Solomon.  Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah urged the people to keep the faith.  Their message was “Wait for one more King.  This one will be the greatest of all, and He will end our struggle forever.”  Micah distinguished himself when he said, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2)

This accounts for why there are more than 300 Scripture prophecies, some of them fantastically specific, about Messiah who would come.  The Christmas season is also known and referred to as Advent, which comes from the Latin, ‘adventus” that means ‘coming.’  This is why in Matthew’s Gospel especially you find repeatedly in reference to the birth of Christ the statement, “that it might be fulfilled that was spoken by ______.”  Christ’s birth was not an accident, but God’s divine plan from the foundations of the world, prophecy fulfilled!

John Chrysotom (347-407 A.D.) was one of the most influential early church fathers from the 4th and 5th centuries.  He served for a time as the Archbishop of Constantinople.  He was known from his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, earning him the name “the golden-throated preacher.”  Here is one of his writings which highlights the hope that Christmas brings, even in a pagan culture that either ignores Christmas altogether, or makes it traditionally into a time of riotous behavior and debauchery.





So not think you are hearing of small things
when you hear of this birth,
but rouse up your mind,
and tremble when you are told
that God has come upon earth.

For so marvelous was this,
and beyond expectation,
that because of these things
the very angels formed a choir,
and in behalf of the world
offered up their praise for then,
and the prophets from the first were amazed at this,
that He was seen upon earth, and conversed with men.

For it is far beyond all thought
to hear that God the Unspeakable, the Unutterable,
the Incomprehensible, and He that is equal to the Father,
has passed through a virgin’s womb,
and has chosen to be born of a woman,
and to have Abraham and David for forefathers.

Hearing these things, arise, and think of nothing low!
And most of all you should marvel at this –
that being Son of the Unoriginate God, and His true Son,
He suffered Himself to be called also Son of David,
that he might make you son of God.
He suffered a slave to be father to Him,
that He might make the Lord Father to you a slave!


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