christmas 2019

“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.” (Luke 2:10-11)

Glory be, we are almost to Christmas day!

We are exactly a week away from Christmas and I don’t know about you, but our family is pumped. We are ready for slow mornings and cinnamon rolls; for special homemade treats given to folks we love; for cuddling up by the fire; for reading the Christmas Story with all of our extended family (right before we dive into a delicious feast and secret Santa gifts!)

Our family has continued reading our SRT Advent table cards (for the third year in a row, I think?) and answering the great questions they prompt over breakfast every morning, but we’ve also started a new routine of listening to a chapter a day from Luke via the Bible Gateway app (I use the NLT translation because it sounds more story-like with voices and music.)

One thing that has jumped out at me while going through Luke this time has been the political language of authority and government, especially as it’s related to the Christmas Story. I know the Lord is personally confronting me on the issue of authority (in my own heart) and I don’t doubt his perfect timing! It’s got me pondering…in our race to the manger, have we attempted to neutralize the effects of an emerging kingdom? Have we missed the glory of the coming King?

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds (see the verse above), he was quoting from Isaiah 9. I’d like to include the first part of Isaiah’s quote (verses 2-7) here for you to read:

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
 For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

This is strong language…this is political language! Israel was waiting in expectation for a leader to arise to bring tangible, governmental freedom from the Romans. No wonder the wise men of Matthew 2 had the courage to defy the command of the earthly (and blood-thirsty) King Herod, in order to submit to a dream from God. While they recognized the position of Herod, they also understood Who was the true sovereign authority. Maybe the magi are known as “wise men” because they knew the difference between someone in power and the one, true King.
In his classic, The Naked Public Square, the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote,
“If we are to describe this in terms of a line of growth or life projectory, the movement is from the authoritarian, through the autonomous, to the acknowledgment of the authoritative. As freedom from authoritarian oppression, autonomy is a kind of liberation. But autonomy alone, thought of as unqualified fulfillment of self, is a new oppression. Religious geniuses such as Paul, Augustine, and Luther viewed such autonomy as the oppression of the imperial self, the source and shape of our alienation from God. Beyond autonomy is the free acknowledgment of that by which we are bound. We are bound to be free.”

While a precious few Jewish contemporaries of Jesus recognized that he was their Messiah, the majority did not. They instead clung to their autonomy of ethnicity and religious law and missed the inauguration of a new kingdom—one that had been given for their behalf. May we not be the same way! My prayer is that I continually relinquish the throne of my heart and allow the rightful King to dwell there in fullness…and I pray this for you, too. He is the only one who can initiate a true government of justice, righteousness, and peace in our lives, and He is so worthy!

No matter where you are in the world –what nation you live in or government you live under– I hope that the seed of Christ is planted deep in your heart and that the light of his eternal kingdom is breaking dawn there! His loving and holy reign knows no bounds.

As always, THANK YOU for going with me on this #everydaytheology journey. I look forward to what the next year brings our way!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours,


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