Rev. David Freels
December 24, Thursday, Christmas Eve – Psalms — 45, 46; Gal. 3:23–4:7; Matt. 1:18–25
(ESV Daily Office Readings Online)
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way…” Matthew 1:1
My usual list of Christmas movies is probably a lot like yours: It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Christmas in Connecticut, and Die Hard. Then about 12 years ago I began watching movies about D-Day in WW2 as Christmas approached. I was watching Band of Brothers when this new tradition began, but soon I added The Longest Day to my list. The invasion of Europe by the Allies would be the first stroke in freeing people from a yoke of fear, tyranny and death. It was scheduled for June 5th 1944, but the weather forced a delay to the morning of the 6th. The paratroopers prepared their equipment for the jump into Normandy behind the enemy lines.
On troop ships, and airstrips thousands waited for the “go” order. They watched movies, played cards, wrote letters home, or tried to sleep. At Allied Supreme HQ, the Generals waited and worried about how the events would unfold in the next 24 hours. I imagine there was a lot of pacing up and down the floors that night as Group Captain James Stagg, the Allies’ meteorologist monitoring the weather, would come in with hourly reports. The enemy knew an invasion was coming too, but couldn’t believe that the Allies would come in the rain to storm the beaches. In France, the people waited, prayed and hoped for the day of their salvation. (Gal.3:23)
That scene gives me a way to grasp Heaven and earth in those last few hours before the birth of Jesus. It helps me to be in the moment with a sense of need and urgency.
Christmas Eve 1 BC…… The Company of Heaven is waiting to depart. An Angel of the Lord has already gone to Mary and Joseph to let them in on what is to come. They will announce to shepherds in a field that Christ the Lord is born and can be found in a manger (a place that I cannot imagine the enemy would look). Wise men are waiting and watching for a sign. Joseph and Mary are probably frantic at trying to prepare for a birth in a stable after an exhausting journey. They are in Bethlehem remembering what the angel had told them and yet, how could they not help but wonder what would happen next? There are the faithful ones looking and waiting for the coming of the King, Simeon and Anna (Luke 2). There is a waiting world, not knowing really what it is waiting for, but mired down in the pain of sin and death. The world is waiting for the greatest moment of liberation to begin (Gal.4:4).
It is Christmas Eve 2015……the clock ticks away as children await their presents, families travel for holiday reunion, and pastors and choirs prepare for services. We all look back at the first coming of the Lord Jesus into our world in order to restore our lost capacity to know and enjoy life with God, as we are at the same time looking forward to another coming of the Lord Jesus.
In that second coming, all will be set right, made new, and be restored. We are in the now of expectation, as we experience our personal pains and struggles, as the world contends with hate and violence, as some people add to the pain, and still as others cry out for relief and redemption. On this last day of Advent let us wait and watch with that same sense of need and urgency for the day that is yet to come. Just think….Preparations have been, and are even now being made ready for a day when Jesus will hear the Father say. “It is time, GO NOW”!