What are You Expecting?

CHRISTmas is almost upon us! Are you excited? I was thinking about it and rereading the blessed account in Luke chapter 2. Like traditions that lose their meaning with sheer repetition, we can lose our awe of that miraculous time in earth’s history having heard it year after year; especially if it is all but relegated to a reading in a prescribed liturgy.
For instance, do any of you remember this in verses 8-14? “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 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. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 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, ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
Wow! What a picture this brings to mind! It makes me wish I had a grandparent who could have relayed this story to me verbally as a small boy, filling my young heart with vivid imagery and the excitement that would naturally accompany it! I don’t even remember this at all: an angel appearing in the night, in a field, with the dazzling glory of the Lord around him, telling this great- yet perhaps unexpected- news, along with a multitude of heavenly beings in plain sight of these shepherds! This is awesome!
It makes me ask myself if this appearance was at all expected, prophesied or foreseen by these simple men. Were they expecting it? If not, what did all this mean to them? If they were, what did this fulfillment mean for them in their hearts? Whether they were expecting it or not, their hearts must have “burned” with joy at the sight and words! Similarly, Simeon had been told in the Holy Spirit that he “would not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (verse 26). And contrastingly, Herod wasn’t envisioning this at all, nor was he the least bit pleased. In fact, it was in direct contradiction to his life’s plans and was an obvious stumbling block and obstacle to him. So strong was his heart’s opposition to God coming into the world that his reaction to the same blessing was to “search for the child, to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13b).
Let’s help others around us over the coming days to see this time as the shepherds and wise men saw it; not as Herod and others (Freedom from Religion Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, American Humanists Association, American Atheists Association, etc.) fear it. So strong and visible is the CHRISTmas message whether embraced or rejected, that it is seen and celebrated globally. May the Lord of all take root in their hearts and in those we know, love and pray for! God Bless you & Merry Christmas †

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