And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 20:11-21:8
I believe some may find it disconcerting to hear a reading from Revelation so close to Christmas. But the lectionary will not us forget the real meaning of the birth of the Christ Child. The Scriptures will not let us romanticize or emotionalize Christmas as if the most important thing is the joy of new life that comes with the babe in the manger, surrounded by ox and ass, a loving mother and caring father. What is most important is what that new life brings—a new heaven and a new earth, new life for the faithful dead, the end of tears and grief and mourning and crying and pain—for the former things will have passed away.
Our reading from Revelation reminds us, as we approach the Nativity of our Lord, that it’s all about “God-with-us!” John the Revelationist says he saw the throne, and a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them…”
God will not be distant or removed far from us. God will not be watching us dispassionately, curiously interested in how we will face life’s troubles, trials and tragedies. God sent His own Son to be with us, to dwell with us—now present for us in God’s holy Word, written, read and preached, and in the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrament of Christ’s presence among us. One day, however, the new heaven and the new earth, the holy city New Jerusalem, will come down—and God will live with us and we will live with Him forever. This is the new thing God is doing, in the birth of His only begotten Son.
As we look into the eyes of the Christ child this Christmas, let us see the new heaven and the new earth, our new future, and the Son of God who would be the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, come to us, not only at Christmas, but every week in the means of grace, Word and Sacrament—to be truly, God with us! Amen.
Advent Action: Read the seven beatitudes or blessings in the book of Revelation: 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14.
The 2016 Advent Devotional, based on Year I of the LBW and written by Pastor David Wendel, is available for download/printing in two formats and as a daily text/email message.