Sunday, December 16, 2012

Good Tidings of Great Joy

Two thousand years ago, angels appeared to a group of rag-tag, smelly shepherds late at night to proclaim the best news yet to be brought to Earth.  For something along the lines of four thousands years, the angels watched from above as humanity pillared and plumaged the Earth and each other.  They stood by waiting, anticipating, wondering when God would fulfill His promises to redeem His people from the sin that entered humanity with the mistake of Adam and Eve.  They saw every murder, every robbery, every slave taken captive, every death from accidents, disease, and old age, every act of rage-all of it. They grieved.  And they waited.  The angels knew God's plan for Earth-an eternal Eden where innocence prevailed and communion with God was first nature.  They saw that fall apart when Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of good and evil.  They listened to God promise Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel that He would provide redemption from the destruction that lone act created.

On that dark night two thousand years ago, the waiting was over!  Redemption was born!  Those angels didn't just appear to the shepherds and tell them to go see a baby.  They sang!  They leaped!  They shouted and yelped with glee!  They wooped and hollered and swirled through the night, letting those shepherds know that God's Kingdom had come and was now theirs!  It wasn't a distant promise any longer.  It was here!  Now!  Eternal.  Can you see that scene?!  They declared peace to all the Earth, saying that God's Son had come to bring peace!  Jesus had come to bring joy!  He came to bring hope!

Fast forward two thousand years to December 14, 2012.  America was shaken by the deplorable yet again.  Twenty seven innocent people lost their lives in an elementary school-a place that's supposed to be a safe haven for the children that enter it's doors.  As a teacher, I'm stunned and churning and grieving loss of innocence.  It makes me wonder if that's how God felt watching Adam and Eve.  But this isn't about me.  This is about peace in a sinful world.  Steve reminded us today that until Jesus returns (and He will, oh how most certainly He will!!!), the children of God will always have conflict with the children of Adam and Eve.  He's right.  There won't be peace in action, but in spirit alone.  One of my favorite carols, 'I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day', says it beautifully, " And in despair I bowed my head; "There is no peace on earth," I said; "For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men!"  This seems to be the attitude of the media and Facebook the past few days, and it breaks my heart all over again.

This attitude of despair makes me want to shout, "LISTEN! God is waiting for you!  His arms are open to you! Yes, YOU! He gives peace.  He grants joy in the midst of crisis.  He redeems.  Oh, sweet, blessed redemption!  It is yours-just accept it!"

That carol doesn't end in a morose state.  The last verse says, "Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men."

AMEN!  Hear Him, world!  Satan DOES NOT WIN (John 10:10 and oh so many others)! God loves you.  He made you.  He offers redemption from the evil of sin through the birth of Jesus and the empty tomb.  That means HOPE!  Hope only comes through Christ (Titus 3:7).  That's it.  There are no other options (John 14:6).  World, wake up!  Listen!  Do you hear your Savior calling you by name?  He is.  RUN to Him.  Struggles between good and evil are going to continue until Jesus returns to Earth and redeems it as His own, but He leaves peace in the midst of the turmoil (John 14:27).

Grieve, precious world.  We must.  But don't lose hope.  Cling to the joy of the manger and the peace of that empty tomb.  A day is coming when all of those who know Jesus will be redeemed (Revelation 4). 

We sang "Redeemer of Israel" to close today's Christmas worship.  I was humbled to proclaim these words out loud today.  Read these words and cherish them.

Redeemer of Israel,
Our only delight,
On whom for a blessing we call,
Our shadow by day
And our pillar by night,
Our King, our Deliv'rer, our all!

We know he is coming
To gather his sheep
And lead them to Zion in love,
For why in the valley
Of death should they weep
Or in the lone wilderness rove?

How long we have wandered
As strangers in sin
And cried in the desert for thee!
Our foes have rejoiced
When our sorrows they've seen,
But Israel will shortly be free.

As children of Zion,
Good tidings for us.
The tokens already appear.
Fear not, and be just,
For the kingdom is ours.
The hour of redemption is near.

Remember those angels.  They really had good tidings of great joy!  Alleluia!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...