Storying Christmas: Waiting

STORYINGCHRISTMASwaitingChristmas is, in many ways, a waiting game. We have to be patient ALL year long until Christmas day. We have to wait to open presents until the 25th – even when we can see them sitting there under the tree in December!

I complain a lot during this season because I just can’t wait to open my presents! But, if I’m being honest, part of the fun is the waiting – the anticipation, the longing for what’s under the tree.

For centuries, the people of God had been waiting for the Messiah to come – a Messiah who would rescue them and lead them forward – one who would be their king.

God used Moses and Aaron to take them out of slavery in Egypt. He used Joshua to lead them out of wilderness and into a Promised Land. But, like we do so often, they got impatient. David and Solomon built a great kingdom. Every time, like us, the Israelites got tired of waiting for God – much less the Messiah! Here is what God says to them through Isaiah:

Isaiah 30: 15, 18

 

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation,

In quietness and trust is your strength,

But you would have none of it.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;

Therefore, he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the LORD is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for Him!’

 In this passage from Isaiah, God tells the Israelites (and us today) to repent and rest, then we will find salvation and strength.

Even though we are impatient toward God sometimes, he wants to show us compassion and he does this through a Messiah. Through Jesus Christ, the baby, the man, the sacrificial lamb.

I think it’s important to realize that God doesn’t always give you what you expect. For example, you might know that the rectangle present under the tree is a book. But, you may be surprised at what book is under that Santa-laden wrapping paper. Jesus was not exactly what the people expected. They probably thought they were going to get a warrior rather than a carpenter.

Realize that God knows what we need more than we do. In the case of Jesus the Messiah, it was freedom from sin rather than from man.

In our waiting and through our repentance and rest, God will come through. He will come through for us like he did on the first Christmas.

What are you waiting for these days? Talk it through with the Messiah, then thank Him that you don’t have to wait for Him to come anymore. He’s already done that. Let him know that you realize he knows what we need. Tell him that you trust him, and that you will wait for him.

 


 

Missed something? Check out these Christmas posts:

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/

 

God with Us: Part III

Are you enjoying these “God with Us” posts? I just LOVE that God is near to us, close to us, walking along beside us. He is behind us and He is before us. Our God sent Jesus to be human, along with us.

STORYINGCHRISTMASgodwithus3

We are created as relational beings, and so we get lonely sometimes. We feel alone-ness rather than comfort. Sometimes, we have sorrow rather than joy. But Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

Read this part of the Christmas story and really imagine what it must have been like to be Mary and Joseph:

Matthew 1:18-25

 

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

 

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

 

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Jesus was born to a young village girl. His father on earth was a simple carpenter. There probably wasn’t anything outstanding or extraordinary about them (other than that Mary was pregnant out of wedlock). In fact, the people around town may have looked down on them. But, those two people were Jesus’ parents.

We can read stories throughout the gospels where Jesus goes to the “forgotten” people. He went to the “sinners“. Emmanuel was born to and lived among the outcasts, the poor, and the sorrowful. He was born among regular, every day people like you and me.

“God with us” does not mean “God with the rich and righteous”. It does not matter who you are – because Jesus came, like the angel says, to “save his people from their sins”. He is the great rescuer, so he does not need for you to be perfect and happy already. He is comfort to the lonely. He is joy to the sorrowful.

And he can be those things because he is God with us. God on earth, born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth. He was a kid who laughed and cried. Maybe he was teased by his peers. He probably felt alone sometimes.

He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is mighty and so much higher than us. But he came down to be here with us.

So Emmanuel is such a powerful idea for us! It means that Jesus can relate to us. He has been here. He is with us. He knows what it’s like to lose a friend. He knows what it is like to feel betrayed. He knows how it feels when no one believes him – to be the centre of gossip and slander.

Jesus knows and he understands.

At the end of your week, going into the weekend, spend some time thinking about the humanity of Jesus. Read parts of the gospels where he is tempted, angry, weeping, or praying. Realize that when Jesus came to earth, he traded perfection in heaven for the pain on earth. He knows your pain and mine. And he walks with you through it all.


 

Missed something? Check out these Christmas posts:

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/

Summer Christmas

STORYINGCHRISTMASIf you live in the northern hemisphere, you will probably have a very different picture of Christmas than people here in New Zealand. We have summer Christmas.

When I am in New Zealand, my Christmas holidays would be amiss if I did not go to the beach… a lot. When I’m dreaming of a “White Christmas”, the closest I get are the white sand beaches of east Auckland. Instead of pine trees, our pohutukawa trees blossom red flowers against their green leaves.

I love this beach life. I love living near the ocean.

Once you have been to the ocean, you will understand this statement: There are just some days when you just feel the need to drive a bit and sit next to the sea.

Today is such a day.

We can learn so much from the ocean. That’s probably why there are so many songs that use it as a metaphor. Here are some lines you may recognize:

“In oceans deep, my faith will stand.”

“When sorrows like sea billows roll…”

“Oceans will part, nations will come, at the whisper of your name.”

“Set my feet upon the sea ‘til I’m dancing in the deep.”

I think of these songs and then I think of Christmas. There’s a question that I ask myself as I sit here at the beginning of December: Is there anything about Christmas that is like this ocean?

At first, I’m thinking no. That’s a ridiculous question. Then, different themes started popping into my mind.

I’m sure we can all come up with some great answers. You can probably come with more than me. Right now, God is using the sea to refresh, restore, heal, and satisfy me. But, when I think of the sea as it relates to Christmas, this is what I’ve come up with:  POWER.

Yes, the original Christmas story is about peace. A silent night. Wise men quietly following a star. Silent shepherds watching their sheep at night. A sweet baby asleep in a manger. It has all of these things.

But we must never forget the POWER of God when he comes down to man.

The sea sounds so peaceful to me right now. The waves are so small that little kids are going a few meters in. There are people parasailing. But there are no surfers because the waves are just not big enough. The ocean is calm and quiet.

But have you seen the ocean roar as a storm comes in? Have you seen crashing waves leap over boulders and into cliffs? Have you heard those horrible stories of people getting caught in the wild current, being swept out to sea?

So it is with the Christmas story. Peace has come. Comfort and joy have, indeed, come to earth with Jesus. But so does power. Because the Son of God came to our planet that first Christmas day.

God. The Great-I-Am. He came to Earth. The One who is so great and holy that even prophets could not look upon Him and live. To even hear the name of Yahweh garnered fear and trembling. The LORD, mighty in battle, came.

Power.

But in a tiny baby.

Power that made blind men see, deaf men hear, and dead men walk.

Power that rose himself from the grave.

Power that takes away the sins of the world.

I’m glad the ocean reminded me of God’s peace. And I’m glad it reminds me of God’s power. I never want to forget this part of Christmas.

 


 

Want more Christmas??? Here’s more posts:

Comfort  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-comfort/

 

…And Joy  http://alittlesanctuary.org/and-joy/

 

Summer Christmas  http://alittlesanctuary.org/summer-christmas/

 

God with us: Part I  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part/

 

God with us: Part II  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-ii/

 

God with us: Part III  http://alittlesanctuary.org/god-us-part-iii/

 

Storying Christmas: Waiting  http://alittlesanctuary.org/storying-christmas-waiting/

 

Christmas Eve & The Miracle Fern http://alittlesanctuary.org/christmas-eve-miracle-fern/