Monday, December 17, 2012

Bethany Bullet - December 17, 2012

The texts of the Advent and Christmas season always provide accounts of “God chatter.”  Talk among earth’s residents about heaven’s interaction with the same always ramp up in the assigned texts for this time of year. In our world, “God chatter” always ramps up after tragic and/or evil events take place.  We’ve had no shortage of them as of late. Be it an entire classroom killed in Newton, CT or a couple holiday shoppers in Oregon. This “God chatter”, as opposed to that of the biblical texts, often doubts there is any interaction between heaven and earth; as it denies or decries God’s power and presence (that is His Advent.)   So what do we, the church, say in response to such “chatter”?

Of course, let’s begin with admitting that unfortunately for the Christ follower, familiarity with the mass murder of minors at Christmastide is not new news.  Recall how a depraved heart and a perverse mind compelled Herod to an evil course of action and the infanticide of Bethlehem followed. Baby boys of that village were slaughtered in an attempt of destroying the one Mary bore.

One thing that events remind us of is that God’s Advent, His presence in this world, does not deliver us from all horror, sorrow, and suffering; rather He experiences in His Son’s horror, sorrow, and suffering to deliver us. God, in His Advent (powerful presence) does not come to grant us an earthly experience in which evil is no longer a reality, rather He comes to grant us an eternal experience in which evil isn’t even part of the vocabulary. 

But that still leaves us with what we are to say to those who live during these days.  Fred, aka Mr. Rogers, has been quoted as having said in times of like this to see God one must look for the “helpers.” In other words, look for those who are actively seeking to assist in such times and you will see God’s presence.

The events of Mary’s life teach much the same: Her life is about to change forever, the rumor mill would run wild, her parent’s reputation was at risk and perhaps irreparably, and as she goes to the home of Elizabeth she finds God’s presence and power in this encounter. 

Elizabeth, a real historical person and one of the main characters of this real historical event, also is representative of the church. Her husband a priest, her son a prophet, she “houses” God in whose presence His children “leap.”  Isn’t that a wonderful description of what the church is to be?

Another meeting Mary had was with a man named Simeon who reminded Mary of what was to come, “A sword will pierce your own soul too.”  This man, also a real historical person and main character of this real historical event, is also representative of the church.  He was to be present upon earth until the Lord entered the world in the flesh; while we may be called to heaven long before Jesus’ Second Advent, the church shall remain until He does. 

They both show us who we are to be during “God chatter” occasions; when people are in the midst of times of struggle or sorrow through which some would deny God’s Advent (His presence and power). 

You don’t have to have deep doctrinal knowledge, Elizabeth’s husband went to seminary, but she did not.  You don’t need to be a called worker, Elizabeth’s son was, but she was not. You don’t have to have had a conversation with an angel; Elizabeth’s encounter with such was vicarious via Zechariah. You need not have the ability to speak with profound words; as a matter of fact in our text it was Mary not Elizabeth whose words were more memorable. 

What we learn from these two examples of the church in the Advent texts is that during times of struggle and sorrow (that might even lead some to deny God’s Advent altogether), we bear witness to His power and presence through hearts moved by the Spirit. Arms and welcomes willingly extended to those who are experiencing such struggles and sorrows. Lips that confess what faith believes: that even those facing humanly speaking, life altering, fear producing, and tear causing events are loved by a God who IS present midst suffering and has done His best work by His own.  


May the birth of the Christ child and His promised hope of His “kingdom that shall not end” (Luke 1:33) bring peace and comfort to those who bury their children in these days to come; and all of us who share in their grief and yet cling to this hope.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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