Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas is for the needy (Second Sunday in Advent)

According to the church calendar, the four weeks leading into Christmas are known as the season of Advent. Today marks the beginning of the second week of that season. It is not Christmas, but instead is a time for Christians to prepare for the birth of the Savior. It is a time of waiting, which makes the Christmas season so much sweeter. In the words of one of my favorite Christmas carols:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Yet advent is not merely looking back. It is also looking forward; for just as the world waited Christ’s first coming, we are now awaiting his second.

* * *

Christmas is a happy and joyful season when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But the original Christmas was far from joyful. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Christ was born into political oppression.  The land was occupied by Rome, a foreign pagan power that had no rival. Their rulers were no longer appointed by God, but but by Caesar, a man who believed himself to be god. Adding insult to injury, Caesar had appointed Herod, a descendant of Esau, as the local ruler. All attempts at rebellion had ultimately been futile.

Christ was born into spiritual depression. Israel’s best days were behind it. The God who had led them out of Egypt and raised up David and Solomon had abandoned his people to foreign oppressors. His glory had departed the temple. The prophets had been silent for hundreds of years. The religious leaders were more focused on their own status then the needs of the people.

Christ was born in the world. A place that had been ravaged by the effects of sin for thousands of years. The chosen people were either scattered or oppressed. The local gods could not save, nations rose and fell, but little improved. Everything was futile.

But such was the perfect time for Christ’s incarnation. As he said himself: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Christ came not for the healthy, but the sick.

Christ came not for the satisfied, but for the needy.

Christ came not for the wise, but for the foolish.

Christ came not for the powerful, but for the weak.

Christ came not for the righteous, but for the sinners.

Christ came for those who need a savior. Which is all of us.
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