Ah, ’tis the season... for shiny lights, schmaltzy advertisements, cheesy TV movies, grumpy Facebook posts, and tons and tons of rampant retail shopping. That would make for a lousy Christmas carol, but it’s kind of the modern sentiment right now. Kinda makes me want to crawl into an old Bing Crosby movie, or go caroling again, or cuddle up with my family and remind ourselves what it is that we’re really celebrating this time of year.
The Leagues lit the third Advent Candle in the service this week, focused on the joy of the Lord. They reminded us all that joy isn’t based on your circumstances, but on your attitudes about those circumstances. In last week’s sermon, Mary found peace and joy, even after she’d been told that her life’s plans were all going to be ripped out from under her -- what sorts of things can you and I work to find joy in the midst of? Richard recently lost his job as part of the recent shake-up of middle-level people at Caterpillar, but God has opened up another position for him at a different company in Tucson. So is that a life shake-up worth losing your joy over, or a blessing from the Lord worth praising God with joy about?
Hey, all things being equal, I’d rather that they just stayed here with us, but I also know that the best place that people can be is where God wants them, not where I want them. So let’s find joy in God’s plans and love on the Leagues well while we still have them here. And praise God that Donna League came home from the hospital this week, and is doing a great job working her way through therapy after breaking her hip a few weeks ago.
In our message this week, we continued on through the Christmas Story, taking what would seem at first blush to be a tangent by looking at the birth of John the Baptist. See, you’d think that after talking about Mary getting pregnant, Luke would just naturally talk about her giving birth to the child. But nope -- he just keeps flipping back and forth between John’s birth narrative and Jesus’ birth narrative.
But it’s not really that there are two different narratives going on -- it’s that it’s all part of the same Christmas story. John’s Gospel seems to think that the Christmas story started way back in Genesis 1:1, but Luke and Matthew still take us on a quick ride through the Old Testament and remind us that everything has been leading up to this moment. God promised Moses that He’d send someone to finally defeat Satan. Isaiah told us the child would be born to a virgin and would grow up in Galilee. But Micah told us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Etc.
So when Zechariah is told that he was going to have a miraculous son of his own, that promise isn’t fulfilled until 44 verses later -- but it is fulfilled. So when Mary is told that she was going to have a miraculous son, we know that God’s promises will be fulfilled, just like they were for Zechariah. So it’s not two stories interwoven, but rather one story about God doing precisely what He’d been promising to do -- not just for the families in the first chapter of Luke, but for all of us since the dawn of time. God’s will may be fulfilled instantaneously, or it may take 44 verses, or it may take a thousand years... but the whole point of the Christmas story is that we can absolutely trust His promises -- because nothing is impossible with God.
So what promises of God can you find joy in today, even in the midst of life’s shake-ups? How can you trust in God’s perfect timing?