“A shaking of heads, perhaps even an evil laugh, must go through our old, smart, experienced, self-assured world, when it hears the call of salvation of believing Christians: “For a child has been for for us, a son given to us” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
700 years before Jesus arrived as a baby in a feeding trough, the Lord spoke to God’s people through the prophet Isaiah, “For unto us a child is born”. 700 years went by as God’s people Israel struggled with being conquered, dispersed, and then returned to Jerusalem – looking for this child who would be the Savior. Bonhoeffer in today’s devotion writes, “Isaiah is so deeply immersed in God’s thought and counsel that he speaks of the future as if he saw it already, and he speaks of the salvific hour as if he already stood in adoration bore the manger of Jesus… Only the Spirit of God, who encompasses the beginning and the end of the world, can in such a way reveal to a chosen people the mystery of the future, so that he must prophesy for strengthening believers, and warning unbelievers. This voice ultimately enters into the nocturnal adoration of the shepherds (Luke 2:15 0 20) and into the full jubilation of the Christ – believing community!”
Isaiah 9:6 – 7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
It’s an interesting thought as the world around us is preparing for Christmas, and thinks of God only as a God of grace. Yet, Advent reminds us that not only do we prepare our hearts as Christmas is coming, but also we prepare our hearts that Jesus will one day return, and on that day – he will judge. Our reading today reminds us of this reality, and the fact that as Un Christmas like as this idea may be to us, it comes front the early church, and we must sit up and take notice that God is the God of Grace, and Justice. Rather than a terrifying idea, it brings comfort to those who have placed their trust in the finished work of Christ on their behalf. Bonhoeffer writes;
“We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant any agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.”
What say you?
Text of the Day: Luke 2:8 – 14
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Forunto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Not Everyone Can Wait!
Today’s thoughts from Bonhoeffer offer us some insight into what it means for us to be a people who wait, expectantly, and yet rest in the soverignty of God. Written from jail to his fiancee Maria von Wedemeyer, Dr. Bonhoeffer recalls to each of us that the more we focus on the things of the Lord, the “more rich” we are! “The poorer one quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth” Advent is a time when followers of Jesus recall that we are “Poor in Spirit” and totally incomplete. Thus, we bend the knee to our Lord Jesus, who will one day come in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom is without end!
Luke 6:20 – 26
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
“Celebrating Advent means being able to wait” Isn’t it interesting to find that Dietrich Bonhoefffer felt that the world, that was embroiled in war, was moving too fast! In the 1930’s and 40’s, the world was changing at a record pace. I wonder what he would think of our world today in comparison. With our daily use of cell phones, internet, apps and microwaves – the pace of modern life in America is Crazy Busy! Yet, Advent bids us to intentionally wait, and to look up! Bonhoeffer in his letter to his fiancee Maria von Wedemeyer writes,
“God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives”
As we learn with each passing day to wait in this season of Advent, that the kingdom is already here, but not yet fully realized (the already and not yet) may we grow deeper in our knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and reach out to those who don’t yet know him in acts of friendship! For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming (p.4 God is in the Manger).