Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent ~ Anticipation

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.

In ancient Roman times, emblems of evergreens mean peace and joy and victory, while early Christians use these symbols to reflect that "Christ had entered the home." Now days, decorations of evergreen branches trim porches, mantles, and banisters; evergreen wreaths hang on windows, over fireplaces, outside doors. While these symbols reflect the celebration of the Advent season, this time of longing for the Messiah, the evergreens give continuous, unspoken reminders of God's endless mercy, everlasting life, eternal Hope. Since the first sin of mankind, throughout thousands of years, century after century, darkness waits for redemption, waits for the light that only Christ can reveal. Jesus' birth, rich with prophecy and promise, only unfolds part of God's Grace story. There is more, much more! This forgiven heart eagerly anticipates the conclusion of His story, the Second Advent of Christ, when Faithful and True returns for me. 

At Jesus' birth, Mary wraps Him in cloths and lays Him in a manger because there was not room for them in the inn. After Jesus' death, with permission from Pilate, a man called Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus from the cross and wraps it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. Coming from a virgin womb and wrapped in cloths, Immanuel becomes grace to harsh world, and when the cruelty of the people crucified Him, the Lamb of God, wrapped in linen cloths, lay in a virgin tomb. Politics and power, greed and guilt, denial and death will never define the immutable life of Jesus; instead, the Messiah's victory over death and promise to return for His people enlarge God's never-ending story of Grace. The promise of Christ's Second Advent fills the mind seeking wonder and hope, stills the heart living grief and fear, and thrills the soul knowing grace and peace. Earthly wrappings can never tell the whole story of Advent! 

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, 
and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, ... 
He is clothed with robe dipped in blood, 
and His names is called The Word of God... 
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 
"KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

Clothed with splendor and majesty, Christ will come again. Surrounded by angels, His glory will illumine space; there will be no more darkness. LORD OF LORDS, the title declaring Him Lord over all, reigns forever. Jesus Christ - the Light of the World, the Messiah, KING OF KINGS - now waits in Heaven until the holy appointed time. Jesus waits for us to call on His name, waits for us to cry out in need, waits for us to share His Love, waits for us to speak His name. Listen! Every day the Word of God quills the story of everlasting love and unfailing grace. Believe! Every day find Immanuel, God with us. Wait! Anticipate Advent every moment of your everyday. THIS is the Christmas Story! -dho