Sunday, December 24, 2017

New Beginnings: See? I am doing a new thing. --God

Advent: the (white) Christ Candle :
Lit on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day

This Advent season we have used the theme of “New Beginnings: See? I am doing a new thing.—God.” During the four weeks of Advent we have explored the themes of hope, preparation, joy, and love. Additionally, we searched for the new beginnings that were experienced by groups of people (e.g., the Israelite nation, the shepherds, and the Magi), as well as individuals, such as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

And now, as we come to the final candle in the Advent wreath—the white Christ candle—our focus is drawn to the biggest new beginning of all: the birth of Messiah, the King of Kings, the Saviour of the world, the Prince of Peace. There are so many names of Christ, which describe His character, His essence. It reminds me of when parents choose baby names for their child(ren). There are often a number of factors they take into consideration, such as honouring (often deceased) family members); perhaps there’s a desire to include the name of a significant mentor; or even wishing to choose a Biblical name for the child. While many people have a first, middle, and last name, there are newborns that are given a string of names between their first and last names. We look at these tiny babies and utter, “You have a long name to grow into!” But Jesus was a different newborn—He already existed in heaven, and it was His choice to become one of us. He didn’t acquire His numerous names from people—He already fulfilled the roles of all these names. Even His birth name was chosen before Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit: “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:21). In other words, Jesus was already identifiable by His names long before they were revealed to us in the Scriptures. He didn’t have to ‘grow into’ them. 

The Christ candle is white, symbolizing His holiness and purity, which rendered Christ the perfect Lamb of God. Jesus was born for a 4-fold purpose:
1) To live as one of us in order to completely understand what it’s like to walk in our shoes, (Heb. 4: 14-16, Jesus, our Great High Priest);
2) To demonstrate how we may live our lives in a manner that’s pleasing to God, ( 1 John 1: 5-9, Walking in the Light, 1 John 2: 28- 3: 1-10, Children of God);
3) To show us the extravagantly loving Father in order to change our image of Him as the judgmental and vindictive tyrant of heaven, (John 14: 1-14, Anyone who has seen Me, has seen the Father);

4) And, to make the ultimate sacrifice: laying down His life so that we may have eternal life by escaping eternal punishment, ( “ …the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world,” 1 John 4:14, NIV; John 3:16).

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish,” (John 1: 14, MSG).

When Christ moves into our neighbourhood, things begin to change! The Creator of all things begins recreating and His artistic flare is seen on everything and everyone He touches. We all have times when we yearn for a ‘do over’. Of course, we can’t go back and change the past, but we can experience His new and loving touch on our lives. We can ask Him to make us more fluid in using what He’s given us to touch others with His love, and to bring Him glory by our lives.

[ Please note: there will be 2 more posts in this series: New Year’s, and Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem on Jan. 6).

Merry Christmas!

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer

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