The Comfort of His People

comfort

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed.

Messiah MASTER TITLE

The prophet of Isaiah foresaw the coming of messiah , more clearly than the rest.  He painted poetic visions of the coming of Messiah who would redeem Israel and restore its fortunes and begin to reign over the nations.   In his poetic visions, Isaiah speaks of a messianic child on three different occasions.

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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 ESV

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“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…” Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV

Wolf and lamb

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6 ESV

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I am writing today about that child, the child Jesus.   Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph take the child to Jerusalem to be presented before the Lord.  This was before their flight to Egypt.  The law, the Torah dictated that the firstborn, both man and beast, was to to presented to the Lord at the temple.  The child is not be sacrificed but redeemed by the sacrifice of a lamb.  If the parents can not afford a lamb, there was a provision made that the offering could be two young pigeons instead, and being of humble estate, this is what Mary and Joseph offered in the temple.   “And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.””  

turtledoves

There were two prophets Two present at the temple when Jesus was presented, Anna and Simeon.  These two prophets were both aging, getting long in years.  They had spent their lives waiting and  longing for Isaiah 40 to come to pass,  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1 ESV.  They had been waiting for the comfort, the consolation of Israel to appear.   All their lives they’ve been longing for messiah to bring them comfort. Israel has been long suffering, longing for redemption, waiting for liberation.

prophetess-anna

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.   This is all we know of Anna, but it really is quite a lot.   She was married young, was widowed after seven years of marriage, and ever since had lived in the praying and fasting night and day.  She now is eighty-four years old, so she has been in the temple a long, long time, waiting for Messiah.  And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.   When Jesus shows up, Anna tells all who will listen that if you are looking for the comfort of God, it will come through this baby.

simeon with christ

Simeon comes to the temple in the Holy Spirit and declares “that’s the One!”   The prophecy he had received from the Holy Spirit that he would not pass away until he had seen the Messiah of Israel is, at last, being fulfilled.

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You can say that Simeon and Anna represent old, faithful Israel ready to move peaceably offstage.   They represent those who had gone through and lived the Old Testament   But now, there’s going to be a seismic shift.  Israel is going to reimagined, re-understood, redefined.   No longer is israel based upon ethnicity, circumcision, and Torah observance.  Israel will be enlarged, defined upon faith, baptism, and obedience to Jesus as messiah.

torah

They represent the old Israel that had been faithful in their observance of the Torah and waited.  They are blessed to see what is coming.  And they will now peaceably move offstage and allow Jesus, the Messiah,  to take center stage.

fallen america

Simeon and Anna are prophets among people for whom suffering had become a way of life.  For six centuries Israel had been subjugated, the city of Jerusalem had been a vassal city for various foreign empires.  They had endured the shame, humiliation, sorrow and suffering that came with that.  Imagine how it would feel if America, land of the free and home of the brave, were all of a sudden overcome and brought under subjugation to some foreign empire, and Washington, DC was just some puppet capital under the command of some foreign superpower.  How would we feel as Americans if we were subjugated by China. Russia, Mexico, Bolivia (who knows what the next world superpower will be?).

savior

How they long for messiah to come and at last comfort their people. Jesus is the one, Simeon and Anna tell everyone who would listen.  God has finally acted to redeem his people from their suffering and shame.   Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

presenting jesus

“And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Luke 2:22-38 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.2.22-38.esv

John Lewis

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So This is Christmas…

So This is Christmas…

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I know, I know, it’s a couple of days after Christmas.  But taking my look today at Luke Chapter 2 anyway.

great light

We’ve looked at Isaiah Chapter 9 already.  We have seen that the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.  So this is Christmas.

No_Room_At_The_Inn

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 

caesar-augustus

Caesar Augustus, empower of the world, wanted a census.  As with every census, he wanted to be sure he knew where his taxes were coming from, the taxes which his and every empire depend upon to maintain their power over the people.

no room

Luke starts this part of the story with a wide angle lens.  It’s a very wide shot, the world ruled by Caesar.  Then region he comes in a little tighter to the nation-state of Syria governed by Quirinius, then down to the region of Judea, narrowing further to the village Bethlehem.  Then we see the inn, then we are in the stable in the inn, then a manger with a baby.   Finally the scene ends with a tight shot, a shot of the face face of a newborn baby wrapped in swaddling  clothes.

Pieta,_attributed_To_Antonio_Ciseri

Luke is foreshadowing something here in Luke 2:7.   The baby wrapped in cloths laid in manger foreshadows Luke 23:23, Jesus post crucifixion being wrapped in cloths and laid in tomb.   It’s all part of the same story, we must never forget that.  Jesus coming into the world, born in a cave where they keep the animals is Emmanuel, God with us, with us in birth, with us in life, with us in death.  He is God with us that he might give us new way of being human and lead us out of our ways of death into life and resurrection…

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 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

Manger

The angel said to shepherds what the angels always say – Fear not.  Shepherds in this time and place are the humblest of humble, lowest of the low, they are the ones who’ve always suffered the most.  But the angel says to them  I bring you good news of great joy….you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.  Be clear here.  This manger is not a prop for a nativity scene, it’s a feeding trough for the animals, the animals who lived in this particular cave.   Jesus was born in a cave, but his was certainly not the first birth to happen in this cave.  These animal had birthed their own calves and kids into the world right in this same cave, and now this little baby is born, wrapped in swaddling clothes per the custom of the day, then laid down in their feeding trough for a crib.  Is this not at least a little bit strange?

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Stranger still – this little baby laid down in a feeding trough would grow up to say things like  “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst….I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”….So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John 6:35, 51, 53-56 ESV.  Picture now the bread of life laid in a manger, a feeding trough.   Christ does not save us by killing our enemies but by offering us his own body and his own shed blood and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

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God does not hate mankind. He’s kindly inclined toward mankind in his own pleasure, but he wants to save us from our ways of death.

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The Gospel of Christ came into a world that already had a gospel.  The world already had the Gospel of Caesar, specifically Caesar Augustus.  The Roman Senate had already declared him savior of the world because of the great peace he had brought into the world.  There was talk as to whether to split time into B.C. (Before Caesar) and A.D. based upon his birth and life.  Yes he had brought peace, the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome.  But as the historian Tacitus had noted, there were  complaints that Rome “created a desert and calls it peace.”  The Roman army would show up to a new territory, and announce that they were here to bring peace.  Some might reply “we already have peace!”   To which Romes response was, “yes, but it’s not our peace!”   They would seize territory, impose taxes, and carry the best from that territory back to Rome.   If some so happened to resist, they would be killed, creating peace!   Amen!!??

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Christ does not save us by killing our enemies but by being born in a manger, offering his flesh as food, teaching us to love our enemies and be radically forgiving.  He then lives out his own teaching all the way through allowing himself to tortured and crucified upon the cross.  It is upon the cross that Christ judges the world, it is as he cries out Father forgive them that the ugliness of human sin lies bare for all to see.   Christ naked and dying upon the cross paradoxically shines the brightest light upon the systems of sin which have been in place since the foundation of the world.

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It’s time to speak plainly.  We are a violent species.  Violence is our most diabolical source of systemic evil.  It just seems keep going on forever and forever.  From Cain killing Abel, to Pharaoh Ramses Tutmosis, to Alexander the Great, to Caesar Augustus, to Auschwitz, to Hiroshima, to 9/11, to Sandy Hook, to Lax Vegas, to MS13, to your own street corner on a dark rainy night.

war is over

In the past 5000 years, there have been approximately 14500 wars killing 3.5 billion people.  Born on Christmas Day, laid in a manger, the Prince of Peace offers a better way, if we will dare.  As the John Lennon Christmas anthem puts it, War is over, if you want it.

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The 20th century will be known as the century we finally perfected the technology of killing.  Meanwhile, Jesus waits for us.   Since the end of WWII over 23 million more have been killed in war.  Wars around the world have created tens of millions of refugees.  90% of those casualties have been civilians, 3 out of 4 of these have been women and children.  And the angels continue to sing “Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled….the herald angels sing “glory to the newborn king!””

savior

We currently have over 19000 nuclear weapons in the world.  That’s enough to destroy the human race 20 times over.  It’s time to get on the Jesus train.  It’s time to seriously consider following the Prince of Peace into a new way of being human.   “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. 

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “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. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:1-16 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.2.1-16.esv

John Lewis

For Unto Us A Child is Born

Going to be in Luke Chapter 2, but before going to Bethlehem, we are going to step even farther back to a time 7 centuries earlier, to a time as far removed from the coming of Christ as we are from the Middle Ages.  We are going to hear the words of a poet, a poet known a prophet, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz.  What does this poet prophet have to say?

“And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.” Isaiah 8:22 ESV  “But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 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.” Isaiah 9:1-3 ESV.   This is essential to setting the scene for Luke Chapter 2, the coming of our Lord.  But poets, especially poets from 27 centuries ago, can be obscure and hard to understand.

What Isaiah is doing is describing a time and place held in darkness and gloom. He’s describing a place held in contempt.  But out of this place something good is going to come.  In this place of darkness will be seen a great light.  He’s describing the  land of the Hebrew tribes Zebulon and Naphtali.  He’s describing what we know in the New Testament as Galilee of the Gentiles.  Also called the Via Maris – the way of the sea.  This is a famous ancient road, also known as the way of war.  It was the road the armies of the world would march up and down to do battle.

Israel a unique place.  It is a place where 3 continents, Asia, Africa, and Europe come together.   Armies might stream from Africa to make war their enemies,  or Asia, or Europe.  They would always come through the land of Zebulon and Naphtali, Galilee if the Gentiles, the way of war.

April 16, 1457 BC…the first recorded battle in human history.  There had been many before, but this is first one to written down with the  particulars recorded for human history.  Pharaoh Tuthmosis III marched 12,000 soldiers up the Via Maris, and marched upon Canaanite city of Megiddo.  He wanted to control the spice trade, it would be good for his economy (of course).   He marches upon the city-state of Megiddo.  The battle was waged in the valley below, Har-Megiddo.  We know it as Armageddon.  We think it’s where the last battle will be waged, but it’s also where the first battle occurred, and many more since.   It is a land held in contempt.  War after war after war has been waged on this site.  Archaeological digs find layer after layer of ruins as the city gets destroyed in war, gets rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt.  I’ve heard it’s been destroyed and rebuilt as many as 26 specific times in history?   Even the last battle of WWI occurred right here at Har-Megiddo, or as it’s known in Greek, Armageddon.

One particular time, Pharaoh Neco was marching his armies through, and good King Josiah just got tired of it.  He had had enough of the armies marching through his land, eating all their sheep, drinking their wine, making off with their women.  So he goes out, declares to Pharaoh that he’s not coming through here.  Pharaoh says “Yes I am!”   Josiah says “no you’re not!”   And good King Josiah died right there, along with the armies of Judah, at the hand of Pharaoh, who marched on to war with the Assyrians.  Dies right there, read about in 2 kings 23, even better in 2 chronicles 35, right there at Megiddo, in the land of contempt.   War after war comes through, Armageddon is right in center of the land.

What is Armageddon?  Armageddon is nothing but a battlefield.  Armageddon is never inevitable, it’s never unavoidable unless we do as in Revelation 16.  “And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”

Revelation 16:13-16 ESV. If we listen to the wrong voices, demonic voices like those three frogs, if we listen to that dragon, the beast of empire, and the false prophets.  If we listen to the Satan, the empire, if we listen to the propaganda of the false prophet we are always on our way to the next Armageddon.   Or as we might say, on our way to Waterloo.  On our way to Gettysburg, Flanders Field, on our way to Omaha beach…

Armageddon never unavoidable, there is another way.  That’s what the prophet wants to tell us about.  We sing the Christmas carols, we know the words, we know the story.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.  The prophet is imagining a time in the future.  He’s in a land of darkness, in the land of war, in the land of galilee.  He’s in the land of Armageddon. But out of that darkness a light will shine.

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.   Imagine living in this land.  This land of war.  All the centuries, all the soldiers boots marching across it, through it, on their way to the next conquest.  All these boots, all those bloodied garments are about to be thrown in the fire, they are about to be unnecessary, unneeded, because out of the darkness is coming a great light.

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. 

So that’s where that comes from!   This verse just always just appears to come from nowhere, out of context.  But it’s out of the boots of the tramping warriors , out of all those uniforms bloodstained by war which will be fuel for fire, out of centuries of endless war, for unto us a child is born. 

For unto us a child is born, a child who will stop the tramping of soldiers boots, end the endless string of bloodied uniforms.

For unto us a child is born, he will be called…Prince of peace. So said the prophet seven centuries before Luke Chapter 2.

“But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 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.”

Isaiah 9:1-7 ESV

http://bible.com/59/isa.9.1-7.esv

King of Kings

Elizabeth and Mary live in a world run by the ruthless and strong.  Augustus Caesar sits on the imperial throne in Rome, Herod the Great sits on the throne in Jerusalem.  They are brutal tyrants running the world as they want, as they see fit, to their own advantage.  But Mary and Elizabeth believe that God is about to act to establish a new way of running the world that will put the bullies out of business and finally give the meek a chance.

The time was during the Pax Romana. The Peace of Rome. This was just a euphemism, imperial propaganda.  It was a time of peace and a booming economy FOR ROME.  Maybe you have heard the phrase, all roads lead to Rome.  Yes, all roads lead to Rome so they could plunder the world and take all the loot back to Rome   It was a time of peace and prosperity gained through conquest and looting.  It is not the way of God and Mary knows it.  This little 14 year old revolutionary knows that this is not the way of God so she dares to prophesy that God is about to act and do something about it.

Mary’s song is in keeping with the long tradition of the Hebrew prophets.  You know the Hebrew prophets.  They were mostly poets and songwriters of sorts who would write subversive poetry.  They would look at the world, see something wrong, and write what we would call protest songs about what was wrong in the world. Then they would offer imagination of what it will be like when God intervenes, when God turns injustice into justice, when God flips the tables, flips the script, and puts the brutal bullies and tyrants out of business and gives those on the ash heap of society a chance.  That’s Amos, Obadiah, and Habakkuk.  That’s Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  That’s who the Hebrew prophets were and what they did.

One thing we struggle to understand is that prophecy is not primarily a prediction of future events.  Despite the billion dollar industries created around end time prophecy, despite the millions being made by those peddling end times prophecy as a predictor of 21st century political events, this is not the primary purpose of prophecy.   Prophecy is  primarily a critique of present structures with an alternative vision for the future.  Prophesy says this is what’s wrong with the world with a vision for how God can set it right.  This is why prophecy tends to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  Some are comforted, some are not, depends on where we are on current global scale.  If you are in Bangladesh, or Mogadishu, or Haiti, you might here a prophecy about the world being turned upside down and the last being first and the first being last and scream out “I like this prophet!  Let me hear more of how this script is going to change and I’ll be given a chance!”   But if you’re in a Manhattan skyscraper, or a Capitol Hill condo, or even a Southern Maryland subdivision sitting on your recliner and your PJs drinking coffee with your feet up, you might not be so excited.  You might think “Hey, maybe we can tweak some things, we’re not perfect, but we don’t need to totally rethink everything.  First last, last first?  Let’s not go too crazy here!

This is why a year later Mary and David run for their lives.  If your saying the mighty king  will be cast down and the weak and powerless lifted up, those mighty ones might fight back.   “That prophecy says what?

So the angel comes again to Joseph – “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”” Matthew 2:13 ESV.  Rise, don’t wait ‘til morning.

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.””

Matthew 2:16-18 ESV. There is heard a wailing in Ramah.  Rachel weeping, mourning the loss of her children.  Babies being slaughtered also part of the Christmas story.

Jesus was born into a world where innocents are too often slaughtered, from Bethlehem to New Town to Columbine to Sandy Hook.  He was sent to this world where our innocents are so often slaughtered to save us from our ways of death.

Look at Mary’s prophecy again.  First shes prophesying her own blessing, which her cousin Elizabeth had also declared.  My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.  Then it’s like a movie where the camera pans back to the wider world.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Mary is standing in whole company of Israel.   She represents here the whole of people of Israel, the lowly servant of lord through whom salvation is born.

How does this happen?  Mary prophesies that big changes are coming.  She prophesies revolution.  The poor and humble will be lifted up.  The mighty and powerful will be toppled.  The poor and hungry will be satisfied, the rich sent away.  This is radical.  It will get the death squads sent out into the districts.

How is it to be accomplished?  Will it be done by chopping the heads of the bad guys?  That’s what everyone thought.  When u say everyone, i mean everyone. Mary, John the Baptist, Zechariah, Elizabeth, the Pharisees, Caiaphas, Pilate.  They all thought Jesus would do the revolutionary thing and start chopping heads.  We need to chop the heads and kill the bad guys so that the world can be set right and we can be on top.

But when Jesus starts his ministry and does something truly revolutionary, preaching “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you”, nobody could understand what was going on.  The could not believe it.

John the Baptist, for one, stops leaping.  Remember how he leaped in his mother’s womb?  Remember how John was the one to declare “There is the lamb if God who takes away the sin of the world.  There’s the Messiah”.  Well, John doesn’t get it, he stops leaps, stops shouting.  He sends messengers to ask   “”…Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”” Matthew 11:3 ESV.  Even his mother would basically ask him “are you crazy?

Mary’s prophecy is about the reign of god that her son is about to bring into the world.  When this happens, the proud, the powerful, the rich will not be given their accustomed positions of privilege.  They are used to being in charge, setting the rules of the game.  Ever been playing a game and been suspicious someone is setting the rules of the game their advantage?

Sometimes it seems the whole world is like this.  The proud, powerful and rich have a sense of entitlement that we are the ones.  We play the game but we always win.  But in Mary’s prophecy the proud, powerful, and rich are not given their accustomed position of privilege.

Who actually opposed Jesus?  The proud, powerful, the rich.  The proud Pharisees – “we know the Bible and we know who’s in and who’s out.   We definitely know that we are in and you are out.

The powerful – the Sadducees, the ones ran temple, the priestly class.   They have a great center of power in the temple.   But Jesus protests their temple.

The rich – the Herodians and Hasmoneans, those for whom the present  arrangement was very advantageous, they were very happy with the status quo, thank you very much.  These all fought Jesus.

Who flocked to Jesus?  Lepers, the moral outcasts, tax collectors, the sick, the poor, prostitutes,  sinners.  The ones who had always been left out, left on the bottom and shunned, these are drawing near to Jesus. The great reversal is occurring.  The rich and powerful are fighting Jesus, but they are toppling and falling.  The poor and the sick…suddenly they are being lifted up and it’s happening before our very eyes, the new kingdom is coming.

These humble and hungry are blessed in Jesus sermon on the mount – the poor, mourning, the meek, the persecuted, the merciful, the pure,  the hungry the peacemakers.  Mary’s song and Jesus’ beatitudes pretty much say the same thing.  There has been a seismic shift in world.

To do justice for poor sick and oppressed is now a requirement for rulers of this world.  Jesus judges whole world right now.  Consciously or unconsciously we compare every ruler, every president, every prime minister to Jesus.  He really is king.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, president of presidents, prime minister of prime ministers.   If they don’t act justly and care for the weak, the sick, the poor as Jesus would we tell them it’s time to go, they get voted out of office, revolutions break out.  It’s the seismic shift the coming  of Christ into the world brings.

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.”

Luke 1:39-56 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.1.39-56.esv

John Lewis

Leaping for Joy

What would make you literally leap for joy?  Think of the End of WWII, those picture is unbridled, pure joy.   There was leaping for  joy at the falling of the Berlin Wall.  Maybe the birth of a child, or grandchild.  How about winning the lottery, that would make some of us pretty joyful, amen!  What if you get even better news than that, you get the news that you are now cancer free, would that make you leap for joy??

When war ends and tyrannies topple, when prosperity comes and sickness leaves, that’s good news. That’s the kind of news Mary and Elizabeth celebrate together.  The good news that the kingdom of god, the government of god, the reign and rule of god is at last breaking into the world, a world that for too long has been ruled by proud and brutal tyrants.

The story begins like this – with an old Jewish couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth.  They always  wanted children but children did not come.  When Zechariah is praying and burning incense in the temple an angel appears to him.  “And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” Luke 1:12-15 ESV

Six months later same angel, Gabriel is sent to the backwater of Nazareth with the announcement to a young girl, Mary, that though she is a Virgin she will conceive a son who will be a savior.  So Mary immediately leaves Nazareth to travel 70 miles south to visit with Elizabeth, her older cousin.

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.   Mary Greets Elizabeth, maybe with “shalom”, a typical Jewish greeting.  But Elizabeth is filled with Holy Spirit and responds with with an unusual greeting.   “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”” Luke 1:41-45 ESV.   Yes, that is quite a greeting!

At the same time Elizabeth greets Mary, her baby leaps for joy in her womb. That baby is John the Baptist.  John is the first of all the Baptists, there will be many more.  I don’t think there’s been a Baptist since who was so excited to hear about Mary…

Let’s not miss the symbolism here.  We have a woman almost too old to be a mother about to give birth to a son who will bring to a close the old age, the Old Testament age.   We have a woman almost too young to be mother who is going to give birth to a son who will bring in the new age.  They are meeting and rejoicing together.  As it says prophetically in the Old Testament, the old will serve the younger, Elizabeth is serving Mary, John will serve Jesus, the Old Testament will serve the new.

Back to Mary.  Whatever image we have in our minds about Mary, she is not safe, tame or demure.  She is in fact something of a radical revolutionary, this is very amazing young girl.

The Spirit then comes upon Mary, and in the power of the Holy Spirit she brings forth her song.  It’s an adaptation of Hannah’s song 1000 years earlier, along with a little from the songs of Moses Miriam and Deborah.  It is One of most famous Christian songs in history, prayed, sung, and chanted everyday by Christians around the world.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;

for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, The promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Amen.

It’s a song about God and revolution.  It’s about God injecting himself into the world in a way that things will be revolutionized.  It’s not a weak, soft ballad.  It’s not even a power ballad.  Mary’s song comes with a stomp.  It could be a hip hop song today.  It is a prophecy of revolution.

Set the scene fully.  We have two Jewish women, both poor and oppressed, living in an occupied land.  A land occupied by a foreign superpower.   They belong to a nation of people being oppressed.  But in their poverty and their oppression they are suddenly overflowing with joy because they believe something big is about to happen. They believe God is about to act in such a way as to launch a revolution through their two sons.  They are both pregnant in improbable ways, one too old, one too young (and a Virgin at that), yet they both have sons about to be born six months apart, sons they will name John and Jesus.  They believe that God himself is going to act within history and launch a revolution through their two sons.   They believe the coming revolution is in fact the Kingdom of God.  They believe God’s way of running the world is going to come into the world through their two boys.   And there they are stomping and prophesying and rejoicing in a little Judean hilltop town.

The whole scene is absurd.  Two unlikely pregnant women living in poverty in an obscure out of the way corner of the world prophesying that the world is about to be radically changed through their soon to be born babies.  It’s crazy, it’s ridiculous, it’s absurd.  And it’s absolutely true.

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.”

Luke 1:39-56 ESV

http://bible.com/59/luk.1.39-56.esv

John Lewis

Rejoice!

In the Jesus story, right now looking at Mary the mother of Jesus and the world she lived in.  It’s  a world with a booming economy, but lots of people get left out.  But in this booming economy, in this world where Caesar is called the “son of god”, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary saying REJOICE!   You could say this is the proper beginning of New Testament.  Now we are stepping into Good News.  Rejoice!  When the angel makes his enunciation with the word “rejoice”, Good News is indeed breaking into the world.   The long dark night is at last coming to and end.  It is time to rejoice!

God is keeping his promise to bless the world through the seed of Abraham.   Rejoice!!

God is keeping his promise to rule over the nations through the  Son of David.  Rejoice!!

This child who will bless the world and rule the nations is about to be born.  REJOICE!!

But then Mary speaks.  How will this be, since I am a virgin?   To which the angel answers The Holy Spirit will come upon youof course it is from this that we get part of the apostles creed where we confess of Jesus Christ – “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary…

The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth points out that there are 2 moments in Jesus story where God himself intervened directly in his creation. These two moments are the Virgin birth and resurrection.   It is no surprise that these two moments are the dual foundation of our Christian faith.  It all really comes down to Merry Christmas and happy Easter.  It is all about the incarnation and the resurrection…

Even though God intervened – He does not override Mary’s human freedom.  Mary is free to say no.  The angel Gabriel here awaits Mary’s response before leaving her.  We see Mary ask her questions.  How will this be, since I am a virgin?   We see the angel answer her.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”   St Augustine had a famous sermon, about 1600 years ago.   In his sermon Augustine portrayed this moment as a hush falling over heaven as God and all the angels awaited Mary’s response.  Then she speaks –  “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  And all the angels and heaven rejoiced and did backflips.  Rejoice indeed.  God’s intervention hinges on Mary’s yes.

Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, who was carrying John the Baptist at the time, said of Mary  “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Luke 1:42 ESV.   Mary said yes to God.  But saying yes to god does not mean Mary’s life will be easy.  We think it’s all about “Say yes to be blessed!”.  But for Mary, sometimes it was just the opposite.  Saying yes sometimes meant meant embarking on life etched with sorrow.  As Simeon so correctly prophesied of Mary at Jesus’ temple dedication “…and a sword will pierce through your own soul…”Luke 2:35 ESV.

She will live her entire life under the shadow of assumed scandal.  Joseph would have divorced her.  He has only one assumption when his betrothed turns up pregnant .  But an angel comes to Joseph – “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.”” Matthew 1:20-21 ESV.  But the angel didn’t go to everybody.   There were plenty of people in that backwoods of Nazareth who knew that Mary had come up pregnant by someone other than her husband.  It follows her her whole life, it will cause her suffering.

After her baby is born, we don’t know how long, maybe a month, maybe six months, maybe a year, there are thugs from King Herod seeking to kill her son.  She and Joseph have to escape to Egypt.  This doesn’t sound like Mary said yes to be blessed, does it?  It doesn’t sound like her life got easy and happy after she said yes to God.

Jesus escaped, but lots of little boys died in this search for Christ.  Does Mary have guilt that her son is the one who survives?   Does this put an additional burden upon her, that  because King Herod wanted to kill her baby a lot of other babies died.   Running for your life, having the burden of the death of other women’s babies on your conscience, this doesn’t sound like an easy life…

Mary was also there at cross when her first born was crucified.  Jesus will always her her first born.   Whatever else Jesus was, Jesus was always her first born child.  Yes, Jesus was her Lord and savior, but he was also her son.  In this way Mary is extraordinarily unique.  And yes, she lived through seeing her own son tortured on a Roman cross.

The days we live in are shallow and cheap. We in turn present  a version of Christianity that we ourselves can handle.  We present to the world that saying “yes” to God means your on the fast track to happiness.  But what if it’s not so.  Yes, we know saying yes to God will save you, will get you out of certain struggles.  But what if saying yes to God gets you into other trouble?   What if it saves you from this trouble only to throw you into that?  What if it brings with it baggage you’re going to have to struggle with and might make  your life more difficult?  What if????

There IS joy in getting involved with god.  He saves you from your sin and other things that are killing your soul, but know that there will also be sorrow.  The message to Mary – REJOICE!!  and get ready for sorrow.  Can you accept it, can you receive this, can we handle that?  Will we say thanks, but no thanks?   I’m Glad Mary did not.

Christianity is filled with paradoxes.  As we engage our life with god, we gain the capacity for real sorrow but at same time real joy.  Mary will know both.  It’s part of the reason for our fascination with her.

We know that joy will have the last word,  But we don’t get there in a cheap, easy way.  Along the way there will be sorrow.  It might be comforting to know that at least when we go through sorrow it’s part of Christ being formed within us.  We don’t  have to feel guilty for going through a hard time.

How can we look at Mary??   How do we understand her?  We know this much about her, that she is a human being in whom Christ was formed.  AMEN!   Literally.  Here is a human being in whom Christ was formed.  And just what are we to be?  Men and women in whom Christ is formed.  We are to be like Mary, a bearer of God into the world.

In Mary, there is a tension between deep joy but also profound sorrow.  It should be comforting to know that sorrow is part of Christ being formed in us.  It’s not abnormal, but a part of the process we go through as Christians, part of our spiritual formation.  We say yes to God, but life doesn’t always go our way.  We don’t get to be happy all the time.  But the struggles and sorrows we go through are just part of the process of growing in Christ, as Christ grows within us.  It’s all part of the mystery of Mary…

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Luke 1:26-38 ESV

John Lewis

Darkness

darkness

Back into the story of Jesus and the virgin birth.  The story of a young virgin who’s about to become a teen mom, who’s about to become a teen mom despite the fact that she has not left home to live with her betrothed, despite the fact that her marriage has not been consummated.   Quite the scandal, a scandal that would follow her the rest of her life.

mary-and-joseph-603772

Mary and Joseph are both from house and lineage of David.  This means that Jesus is, in fact,  the son of David, qualified to be messiah, which simply means to be king, the king of Israel.  Ancient Israel did not crown their kings, they anointed them with oil.  To be the anointed one is to be the crowned.   To speak of the crowned, that means you’re talking abut the king.  The ancient Jews speak of the “anointed” one, they are talking about their king.

king-david

So they’re both from house and lineage of David, as we’ve always heard.  This child will be the son of David, qualified to be messiah, king of Israel.

Son-of-God

The angel says he will be called the Son of Godwhich rightfully we hear with lots of deep theological implications.  But for Mary, she would have heard this as at least as much of a political statement as theological, probably much more so.  The title son of god was already in use.  Let’s look at the timeline for a minute.  We know King Herod died 4 BC.  Jesus was born before death of Herod, so this is about 5 or 6 BC (yes, the Christ was born about 5 years Before Christ, there were some errors made in calculating our calendar.  Go figure).  At this time the son of god meant the one who had divine right to rule, because after all they are god’s son and have the right to rule the world.

augustus caesar

Jesus is born a subject of the Roman Empire    This is very important to understanding the Jesus story.  Jesus was born during the booming economy of the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome.  Every coin in the empire had the inscription “Augustus Caesar – Son of God”.   Think about this, how often does money pass through our hands in the course of a day’s activities?  Every coin passing through the hands of the wealthy, and the few coins passing through Mary and Joseph’s hands, declared “Augustus Caesar -Son of God”, meaning Augustus Caesar had the divine right to rule.

economy

What mattered most was the economy.  Augustus Caesar had given the empire a booming economy.   Therefore he had the right to rule.  Therefore he was the son of god.

Mary-and-Angel-02

But now…an angel is telling a poor peasant girl that the true son of God was going to come into the world through her life and share in her poverty.  It’s not the economy that matters most but the reign of god and he works in ways we can almost never anticipate.   We must remember that every time you hear the economy spoken of as if it’s the most important thing, you are hearing a lie.

son of the most high

The angel tells Mary her son will be given a throne and an eternal kingdom. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.   It’s this understanding of the birth of Jesus that causes all the trouble.  Hear these titles –  Lord, Son of God, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Savior of the World – these are all imperial titles belonging to Caesar.  When you heard these titles everyone understood you were talking about Augustus Caesar   When the angel Gabriel shows up in Nazareth, these titles were all in circulation.  But the angel says this virgin will bear a child who will claim all these titles for himself.  Trouble is brewing in Nazareth…

Roman Empire

Caesar in and of himself is not important.  Caesars come and Caesars go.  One dies, they just appoint another to take his place.  What’s really important is the empire, Caesar is a personification of the empire.  They call him the son of god, but it’s really about the empire.  The mighty Roman Empire, that’s the savior of the world, that’s where peace and prosperity comes from, that’s what saves the world.  After all, the last, best hope of the world is the mighty Roman Empire….

angel with shepherds

Jesus was in trouble with the superpower from the moment he was born.  Remember, King Herod wanted him dead   The Christmas story is not all about angels appearing to shepherds in the night, it’s also about Herod’s death squads killing babies in Bethlehem. There is a dark side to Christmas because the principalities and powers do not want to let go of the night.  They want the darkness to remain.  It’s the darkness that keeps them in power.   But we are told darkness can not overcome the light.   “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 ESV

Light-Shines

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Luke 1:26-38 ESV

John Lewis