Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fourth Week of Advent: Where Did the Baby Go?

The anticipation and waiting....the days and weeks before Christmas are full, frenzied and can be fun as we get ready to be with loved ones to celebrate.  We are in the midst of the fourth week of advent (and yes, I missed Sunday...but never too late to ponder).

The fourth week of Advent centers on the theme of LOVE.  Not enough words or thoughts to fully grasp what love means during the Advent season.  God stuffing himself into human in the flesh on our little planet to draw us to his life for our our sorrows for His joy, our pain and sickness for His wholeness.  Our past and present for His future :)

I heard a comment this week about how people try to be so much nicer and kind and giving during this time of year.  Why can't they be like that all the time?  Why do we focus on being nice and unselfish seemingly only once in 365 days?   I thought... well, given the condition of the human race, at least one time a year the entire world focuses in that direction - which I think is good.  At least once in 12 months the world thinks about Christmas and giving ....and many have the name of Jesus touching their lips.  The choruses of Hallelujah, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful....they are being sung in different languages all over the globe!  Yeah!!  At least one season a year, the entire universe (and our schools, concerts, secular singers, etc.) sing about the birth of the Messiah.  Even if the other 11 months of the year, they don't even pause to give Him thought.

I Luke 2:21-38 we have the story of baby Jesus at eight days old being taken to the temple to be presented.  Simeon, a righteous man, awaiting the "salvation of Israel" recognizes the Messiah and praises Him (verse 29-32).  Anna, a prophetess, also thanks God and "spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Israel." (verse 36-38)  This man and woman had been "looking" for the Messiah (and I think actively seeking, not just "living religion") -  so when He came, they recognized Him.  Jesus' parents marveled about what was being said about their son (verse 33).  I imagine those in the temple that day heard something that amazed them.  Then...where did this baby go?

A step back...the shepherds after seeing the angel and going to the stable, they spread the word concerning all they saw and were told about the baby Jesus. (Luke 2:17-18)  Then what?...where did this baby go?

We read about Joseph and Mary taking baby Jesus to Egypt to escape King Herod (Matthew 2:13-15) and his return to Nazareth (Matthew 2: 19-23).  We catch up with him later in the temple at 12 years of age (Luke 2:41-51) and he grew up in Nazareth.  And we don't hear about him again until he is around thirty years of age (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3:23, and John 1:29).  What happened during all those years?  We are told he lived in Nazareth and grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man (Luke 2:51-52).

Where did the baby go which so many heard about?  Did some look for him?  Inquire about him?  Wonder where the "salvation and redemption of Israel" went that Simeon talked about that day in the temple?  There are quite a few years where I wonder...did people even think about him or what they had heard?  Again, where did that baby go? (until He shows up on the scene 30 years later and changes everything!!)

Well, not much has changed really.....we are here again in December and people are thinking about Jesus and His birthday, and singing about it in all their concerts and pageants.  We, as Christians, celebrate one of our most revered holidays.  For others, it is a winter holiday, but the season does give space and opportunity to draw hearts' in a certain direction and towards the Redeemer.  

One last thought....this time of year is not easy for some.  The holidays bring memories of pain, loss and heartache.  It is not a time of celebration for all.  As we go about our celebrating, let's extend a hand of grace and LOVE to those around us....that person who bumps you in the store and doesn't apologize; the lady who cuts in front of you in the line (or takes your parking space :) and returns a dirty look or perhaps worse; the person you smile at but he/she in turn  doesn't return the kindness.  We don't know their hearts or their life story...perhaps they need just a kind word, a favor or a smile (even a prayer on their behalf :)  Or even closer to home, that scenario where you could argue or say an unkind word out of impatience or irritation to a loved one or friend.  So much busyness and not enough hours in the day to get it all done....let's extend grace to those around our homes...and in our neighborhoods.  Let's "do" grace and love - take a deep breath, and not let those small irritations ruin our day or moment.  Practice forgiveness rather than anger and bitterness.  The baby is still in our in the now and present.  Immanuel - God still with us :) Some may "forget" Him in January, but for now, let's love and be gracious!  It could make a lasting difference in the life of someone around you.


Post a Comment