The first Christmas wasn’t about red cups or decorations, it was an answered prayer. For the first time in hundreds of years, God interacted with His people, the Israelites, in the midst of the military occupation of the Roman Empire. The Israelites were praying and pleading for God to send His messiah, the anointed one, to restore the Kingdom of Israel and free them. In the spirit of Advent1, they awaited the arrival of a revolutionary king to overthrow their oppressors. Their prayers were of a people feeling lost, beaten, and facing the temptation to just accept the status quo. It’d be something like the old song, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Emmanuel, “God is among us,” a prayer in a name; as if saying “God be here, God be with us.” And in Jesus, God answers those prayers, and enters into His broken but beautiful creation, to be amongst his people.
John further emphasizes the deity of Christ by showing his divine authority and his transcendence, that is, how he is above all and superior to all. In chapter 1, Jesus himself is presented as the Word, and as God himself. Jesus is thus greater than scripture itself (at this time, the Old Testament), for the scripture is not God, but a testimony about God and a revelation of God. Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to us. (As Martin Luther said, the Church is under the authority of scripture, but ultimately the Church and scripture are under the supreme authority of Christ.)
Andrew Byers, writer for InterVarsity Press, says life can bring us to the point where we need to shout, and thankfully that we have a God who is big enough and loves us enough to let us shout, even when and especially when we shout at Him. As a Korean American Adoptee, there was a time when I was struggling with my identity and felt lost to the point that I cursed at the hand I had been dealt.
I recently traveled 69 hours from Seoul to Atlanta. Yes, 69 hours. Instead of taking my usual non-stop flight home, I took 5 flights.
Why? My friend offered me a Delta Buddy Pass that let me fly internationally at a reduced price.
The catch? All standby. No flight or date is guaranteed.
I've been part of the OEM community for the past 4 years, one month and seven days. But, as many can probably relate to, when I first joined OEM, I found it a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed coming to church, but it was challenging getting to know people beyond a friendly hello and goodbye. That is, until I joined my first small group.
Imagine living as a Jewish person in the province of Judea around the time of Jesus. Not only do you live under Roman oppression and taxation, but the Romans have carved out the province from the rest of Palestine so that it has few economic centers or resources, making the area fairly poor.
Particularly in Luke, we see a Jesus born and raised in the backwaters of insignificant Jewish towns - born in Bethlehem, and growing up in the small farm village of Nazareth. You would think that if God mainly cared for or wanted to influence the powerful and mighty of the world, then Jesus should have been born in Rome, or Athens, or Alexandria, or at least Jerusalem.
“Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine.” – C. S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, “The Efficacy of Prayer”
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