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Matthew Bauer
 

Matthew's Blog

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The Promise of Christmas

Perhaps my favorite part of the Christmas story is not found in the virgin birth, the stable, the shepherds, or the wise men. It’s not in the angel’s appearing to Mary, or in Christ’s deliverance from Herod. No, one of my favorite parts actually comes on the eighth day, when Jesus was presented in the temple. And there, in the midst of the sacrifices and ceremony, two people stood out, Simeon and Anna, who recognized the baby Jesus, without introduction or announcement – without angelic hosts or a star in the sky to guide them – simply with the hope and promise inside of them and the lifelong expectation that God was going to show up to them in this most personal way.

You see, in that day, there were two kinds of people: those who were expecting God and those who were not. It didn’t matter whether or not they were “believers.” Many who called themselves believers thought that God was only a story, or a ritual, or a religion (like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day). Or they thought He was a cold and distant ruler, who was too great to be seen with “commoners” like themselves (like those who scoffed at Him and mocked Him on the cross).

Still, just as many who did not consider themselves believers lived their lives waiting, knowing there must be something more, if only they could see it (like the woman at the well and the woman waiting to be stoned by her accusers). And others, like Simeon and Anna, who believed with all their hearts, waited on the Lord with eager anticipation of His coming (and it was they who recognized Jesus, even before knowing His name).

What differentiated these two groups was not their belief in God, but rather their expectation of Him (their openness and hunger and searching for Him). And now, over two thousand years since the birth of Christ, we still find these same two groups of people among us. There are still just as many who call themselves Christians, to whom God is nothing more than a system or a servant to their own wills and desires, to whom God is a series of religious duties or good deeds that will secure for them their own paradise in a future life. And there are also those who do not believe – both those who have heard and choose to ignore the call of God in their lives, and those who have never heard the good news and who could care less.

But still there are others, who, though they have not heard, search far and wide for something more, even in dark places, trying to fill the void they feel but cannot explain. And then there are even more who, like Simeon and Anna, believe and wait upon the Lord, expecting Him to show up, longing for Him – not for their own paradise, but for the loving embrace and intimate relationship with their Father, Lover, Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

It is those with expectation who see God (or rather, who recognize Him). It is those with expectation who hear God and who know His voice. It is those with expectation whose very lives are transformed by encountering the one who came to save their souls. It is those who live their lives, clinging to the promise of something better, something holy, something higher than themselves and their own circumstances, who find themselves lost in the deep, deep love of their Father.

Let us be those who come expecting God today. Let us be those who see and hear and are transformed by God’s goodness, because we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe in His promise. He came that we might have life and that we might have it abundantly, that we might be free, that we might have joy and peace and comfort and glory. He came to restore to us our true identity and our rightful place and authority in God’s Kingdom. He came to take away our sin, so that we can approach the throne of our Father in confidence, knowing His abundant and everlasting love for us, and the vast lengths to which He’ll go to have us with Him in His glory.

And best of all, He is not one to offer this gift to us as a carrot dangling on a string, luring us along toward some future prize. His promise is for us today. This is the promise of Christmas! Not that we should wait painstakingly for our future redemption, but that we can rejoice in our new life today! God is with us! Our Savior lives! Come, let us adore Him, and let us share in His glory right now as we enjoy every blessing of God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, His son, who are right here with us, singing over us and delighting in us.

May you have the most blessed of Christmases, and rejoice in God’s coming to you today!

Posted: 12/25/2011 7:00:00 AM by Matthew Bauer | with 0 comments


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