For some reason, I’m particularly struck this year by the contrast between the “holiday” being celebrated around me, and the “holy day” of Christmas which lies somewhere behind—WAY behind—all the hype and hoopla. It’s a b-i-g g-a-p, and it’s a bit overwhelming and discouraging at times. So, Merry -almost- Christmas!
Perhaps it was reading about the first century shepherd-priests who would have recognized in the angel’s announcement that the baby born in Bethlehem, who was “wrapped in swaddling cloths” (just as were their newborn lambs—those intended for temple sacrifice were likewise wrapped to protect them from injury and blemish). He was destined for eternity-altering events, as evidenced even by His manner of birth (details in our ministry Christmas letter). This is real stuff and it happened in history. AMAZING! It has nothing, however, to do with shopping and extended hours and traffic congestion and lights and tinsel.
Perhaps it is mere human weariness and weakness. This has been a long year, and I yearn for an opportunity simply to relax and enjoy the presence of family. We have been blessed by two wonderful daughters who are moving more into autonomous adulthood, and it seems only yesterday that they were curled up on my chest, asleep and warm. I treasure the times they are home and that they are willing to share their lives with us still. (Read our family Christmas letter.) There are many comforting and familiar traditions surrounding the celebration of Christmas going back to earliest childhood, and replicated down the decades, yet even these are only part of the holiness of the holiday.
It will not be this way forever
Perhaps it is a yearning for this broken, fallen world, full of corruption, disease, war, and uncertainty to be made whole again—or rather, to be remade. I am not naive enough to think that there ever truly will be “world peace.” We’d sure like to see it happen, and we work hard to make a difference, as we advocate for justice, living our lives before others in such a way that those who see our “good works” may “glorify our Father in heaven” (see Matthew 5:16). Yet we know there will be no human peace on earth; that there will be ever greater tribulation; and that in the end the heavens and the earth will pass away. Then the new heaven and new earth will be presented. “Behold I am making all things new,” says He who sits on the throne (Revelation 21:1-6).
It will not be this way forever; it will in fact get worse before it gets better. But we have hope because it will not only be better: it will be P-E-R-F-E-C-T-! There will be no more tears nor death in that day; God Himself will be among us, just as He was with the first humans in the garden of Eden, before sin and death entered the world.
And just like that, I am reminded of the importance of what I do here at FaithSearch—proclaiming the Gospel with evidence, the Good News of God’s love and the gift of His Son to redeem the human race and to renew all things. I am encouraged and energized by His promise and by this future hope to keep going. Each new person who hears; every conversation or publication or Web page or newsletter article or video or presentation we offer carries the potential to transform a life, to effect eternal change. None of us knows when “history” will end and “His story” will be brought to fulfillment. In however many minutes or days or years or centuries we have left, as long as I have breath, I will strive to make His Good News known throughout the world and among those with whom I spend my days.
Merry Christmas and thank you for being a part of my ministry here, and for your interest in our work to “proclaim the Gospel with evidence to all peoples everywhere.”