Happy Advent, and a Holy, Merry Christmas to you and those you love!
May this Holy Season find you at peace; “The people who sat in darkness saw a great light!” Christ our Savior is born! I offer to you this humble Christmas meditation…
Glory to God! Christ Saves Us from Our Sin, and Triumphs Over Evil…
“And you shall call His name Jesus,
For he shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1: 21)
The very names of the Holy Child point to our Salvation: Emmanuel…Lamb of God…Redeemer…the Word Made Flesh…Messiah…Shepherd…Deliverer…Savior…Jesus. Oh, what a sacred miracle. Reading, praying, and singing the glory of His Name, and His coming for our salvation is our joyful privilege, and holy honor.
Most of us know from what we were saved; we can look on human sin and suffering and say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Christ has redeemed us, continues to deliver us, and will eternally save us from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Glory to His Name.
But as glorious is our salvation and eternal life, Christ also brought deliverance to the world that languished under demonic tyranny, satanic cruelty, and devilish deception.
His other Sacred Names and titles herald His tender kindness and rule over the whole world: King of Kings…Ruler of Nations…LORD of Lords…Prince of Peace… Son of David…the Anointed One…Wonderful Counselor…Mighty God.
Ponder this mystery! As Joseph and Mary found shelter in a Bethlehem stable, and Mary bore our Savior, the world was a loathsome pit of malice and despair.
As the Angels sang out the glorious words to the Shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest! On earth, peace, good will to men!”, the world languished under cruelty and lies.
For example: Men were sacrificed to false gods; newborn babies were abandoned and left to die at the whim of godless fathers; Caesar claimed to be a god; the lies, oppression, and eternal damnation that followed the Greek and Roman gods imprisoned souls to demons; millions languished in slavery; men murdered men for sport in “the games.”
But these evil scourges were soon to be crushed! As the Scripture says:
“The Son of God appeared for this purpose,
to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
Infanticide, the worship of Caesar, false Greek and Roman gods, human sacrifice, slavery, etc., were “the works of the devil.” Into this wretched world…our Lord was born. He lived. He preached. And when His earthly ministry neared its end, he declared:
“…I will build my Church,
And the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18)
The battle was joined. The servants of the Lamb of God…the King of Kings – who had been redeemed by His shed blood – made sacrificial war against the powers of darkness, and the gates of hell did not prevail. Martyrs died; but the Church prevailed.
Slowly…human sacrifice and infanticide were eradicated; Caesar was no longer a god; Roman gods were cast aside, their temple stones were used to build Churches. (We name our dogs and cars after those false deities!) Slavery was beaten back. This is the worldwide fruit of Jesus’ birth; he destroyed the works of the devil; this is our heritage…the gates of hell did not prevail.
But even as we rejoice over Jesus’ birth for our salvation; even while we happily remember the defeat of Greek and Roman paganism; we are as Paul said, “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” We grieve over our nation’s demise; we mourn the world’s cruelty.
From tyrannical court decisions against babies and marriage to Obama’s dictatorial Executive Orders; from racial riots in Ferguson to ISIS beheadings in Iraq – and a myriad of other atrocities marring humanity – these are dark times.
And we in the Christian community are battle weary…we are demoralized from tragic defeats, tired of empty rhetoric from our spiritual and political leaders. Many of us pray with tears, “How long, oh Lord?” Many of us groan under the burden of our heavy hearts, sighing, singing, and praying: “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel. Ransom captive Israel.”
So, as we pray, and rejoice, and mourn, and hope…I bid you to ponder this thought: the evils of today are not as entrenched, nor as widespread as they were when our Lord appeared. No one worships Caesar or the Greek and Roman gods; slavery has been obliterated in most of the world.
Sadly, the evil of child-killing has revived, as have other evils; but we can have hope that as Christ – through His Church – conquered evils in times past, He and His Church will conquer these evils again. He will “destroy the works of the devil.” The Church will arise, and “the gates of hell will not prevail.” You - and I - are part of the victory. So stand firm, and let your heart have hope.
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