On this 7th day of Christmas let’s glance at Paul’s wonderful tome to the letter to the churches in Galatia. It is his first letter and quite early as letters go (only James precedes it). In it is the clear explanation of the gospel to people who had become confused. In it he talks about and gives glory to the plan of God! Note the phrase “the fullness of time”.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)
Now THAT is Christmas!
In our linear time consideration of the Christian Year (a.k.a. The Liturgical Year*) we’re half way through the 12 day celebration of the Incarnation. The other day we spoke about the Magi’s journey (from Babylon?) being triggered by the great glow to the glory of God as the heavenly host sang alleluia!
What journey has each of us begun because of the glory of God? Perhaps you might profit from looking back, liking in and looking forward? Click here to learn more.
The psalmist clarifies. “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us but unto your name be all the glory!” Psalm 115:1
The Magi were likely under way and about 50-60 days from their encounter with Herod. They had learned and planned their journey using the texts of Jewish prophets as they awaited the signal. In recent decades Herod the Great’s building plans had created a sort of Jewish Renaissance (now under Roman authority) in Palestine. These Gentile travelers were bound for the renewed glory of the rebuilt Jewish capital city of Jerusalem.
Meanwhile the family more than likely remained in Bethlehem. Mary was recovering from the birth and Joseph saw to the needs of the family. We hope that by now, they had acquired more suitable accommodations.
We should not forget that there was still a required Roman ordered census taking place. The birth of Jesus would have not prevented Joseph from completing his duty of registration. But another preparation was also taking place to give glory to God, that of his circumcision and formal naming, to which we shall return on the 8th day.
* an interesting and helpful site to learn more is: http://anglicancompass.com/what-time-is-it-an-overview-of-the-church-calendar-and-liturgical-year/
This text stood out to me this morning…
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
(Romans 15:13 ESV)
The Father sent the Son, the Son sent the Spirit, by him we may have hope overflowing as we fill ourselves with him. Let’s set our minds on him especially when circumstances are difficult so that hope may abound!
On this third day of Christmas I’d like to consider some ideas about the Magi. In the Christian year, they are focused on during the next season, Epiphany. But for many, they are passed by casually as three guys who bring presents. But a close reading of the Gospels gives us a lot more information. Between now and Epiphany I want to point out a few things that I think important.
First of all, if we look back at the OT prophecies, we see the birth of Jesus spelled out. Some point out that it would be possible for religious scholars – that’s what these “wise men” essentially were – to know that the Jews were looking for a Messiah, a king to be born. If they had taken this idea seriously as scholars are apt to do, they would have put 2 and 2 together, reading clues from Jewish prophets, and begun looking for signs.
Signs in the sky?
So, there was some interplanetary confluence in 4BC. But I don’t think that is what caught their eye. No, I think if they were looking west-southwest in the sky each night, I think they might have seen a glowing beacon that had nothing to do with the proximity of 2-3 planets. I think they saw the sky lit up from angels glorifying God. Luke describes the shepherds as seeing a “multitude of the heavenly host”.
If I’m right, the next day they would have made the arrangements necessary to make their way from – maybe Babylon – the east. This would have been quite a journey that would take weeks. The only reason we sing about three kings is three named gifts. More about the gifts later.
Also in the days to come I will consider a big reason to realize the Magi did not come to Bethlehem.
But to close today’s thoughts, I’d like to get back to the angels for a moment. What were they doing? Glorifying God. What is our primary objective as followers of Jesus? Glorifying God.
Let us be like the shepherds. At the end of their experience with angels and the holy family in Bethlehem, they told people what they saw and gave God glory! Let’s be like the Magi, who set out to learn more and offer gifts to the king!
The 12 days of Christmas are not just a song. They are a season, the second season of the Christian year (which began with Advent). Through this season, will be thoughts of Christmas.
Today we celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God. One of the clearest description may have become familiar recently as we’ve thought through Advent. it is a text that beautifully describes the work of Christ!
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)