The Hope of Christmas

Dec 24th, 2011 | By | Category: Christian Life, Featured Issues

One of my favorite books, or actually series of books, is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  In the first book of the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Narnia is frozen in a seemingly permanent state of cold, frigid winter.  There is never spring and there is never Christmas.  Edmund is enslaved to the white witch, because he loved her offering of Turkish delights.  He is trapped and hopeless!  But Edmund notices it is less cold, there are green sprigs of grass bursting forth from the snow, and there is the sound of running water.  The reason?  Aslan, a clear Christ-like figure in the series, is near.  Andree Seu writes:  ?His breath warms the sin-cursed ground, thaws the icicles around relationships, and ends indentured servitude to the witch we loved for Turkish delight.  A lifelong winter that was never Christmas melts into first Christmas.?  Indeed, Mr. Beaver almost sings:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

In so many ways, we are caught in this Narnia-like tension.  The thawing has begun, but we are often cold, barren and seemingly lifeless when it comes to spirituality.  We experience great defeat in our daily battle with sin, yet we see victories.  We live with the reality of a sin-cursed, fallen world; yet we await the soon and certain return of our King.  There is great, almost immeasurable sorrow in this fallen world, yet there is great comfort as well, a comfort that comes from Jesus.  Seu writes:  ?For Christ has come indeed.  But [we] live in the in-between time, where old age and new age overlap, and things are messy.  The Lion is come?yea, is sacrificed on the stone table?but the book has several chapters in it yet.  This is a mop-up operation but not a chimera; the skirmishes are real.  Let us lay hold of Christmas, then, seizing the day and its power ?until the day dawns and the morning star rises? with all the confidence of spring.?  As Christians, we are caught in the tension of the already, not yet.  We have the certainty of salvation that Jesus purchased for us, but we await His triumphant return and the establishment of His glorious kingdom.  The rebellion will end and all of His creation will acknowledge Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  In the words of Revelation 7:16-17, there will be no more hunger, thirst, disease, pain?and there will be no more tears!  Until that time comes, we wait.  The First Advent provides the basis of our salvation through His death, burial and resurrection.  The Second Advent will complete the program of redemption.  That is the promise and the hope of Christmas.
The hope of Christmas morning gives us a certainty about God?s Providence in the affairs of the humans.  One of the best examples of this hope is the writing of the Christmas carol, Silent Night.  The setting is Oberndorf, Austria, near Salzburg.  On 23 December 1818, the new village priest, Josef Mohr, faced the challenge of a broken organ, which could not be repaired until after Christmas.  That night he attended a Nativity pageant in a neighboring village.  As he walked home from the stirring pageant, he reflected on that first Christmas.  He began to fashion a poem in his mind, entitled ?Silent Night.?  That night he wrote three stanzas.  He showed the poem to the church organist, Franz Gruber, who composed the melody, writing his arrangement for the guitar.  That Christmas eve, Mohr and Gruber sang, with a choir of young girls, the new hymn to the accompaniment of a guitar.  Church members loved the new Christmas carol and it spread rapidly through the hills of Austria?and around the world.  Had the organ not broken in Oberndorf, there would have been no Silent Night.  God?s Providence, as we live in the tension of the already not yet, is real and dependable.  God continues to accomplish His purposes, His way.  That is one of the key themes of Christmas.
See ?Breakpoint? (25 December 2002) and Andree Seu, ?We Shall Have Spring Again? in World (23 December 2006). PRINT PDF

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