Christmas celebrations tend to hide the paradox of what happened on that quiet evening in Bethlehem. At the birth of Jesus an army of angels appeared and sang “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14b).
At the same time, war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels defeated the dragon and hurled the forces of evil to the earth. (Rev 13) I wonder if the heavenly host first sang to the shepherds, and then were thrust into battle for the Child. Or … was the song itself the opening salvos of the battle? I tend to think so.
We see the peace of Christmas in the midst of battle…the first hints of a mystery hidden for ages being revealed…the mystery that through the church the manifold wisdom of God is revealed.
Celebrating Christmas in a strange place is both difficult and empowering. And one does not need to be overseas to be in a strange place. Our difficult place could be a loss of the familiar, when family is far way, carols are sung in new ways (if at all). Empowering in that we can, if we allow ourselves, to experience in deeper ways the wonder and awe of Christmas. It is an awe that puts us on our knees.
At Candidate and Orientation Course, I lead a session on spiritual warfare which always leads to extended prayer. Always. Prayer that is powerful as we minister to each other, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide. Prayers that reveal and touch deep places, opening them to the power of God.
OMF exists to join God in changing the world – through the church. Through the church individuals are released to freedom in Christ, and communities are transformed with the love of God. It’s not an easy calling. But God’s favor rests on us (let that sink in a bit). Therefore, we have peace. The angels said so—as they battled away the darkness.
Merry Christmas, dear colleagues. Let’s not just sing the carols of Christmas, let’s worship with them. Gloria. Emmanuel. Hark! Joy! Peace! Come! Sing with a voice of victory for we know whose side we are on.
My Christmas prayer for you is an old one:
I pray that out of the Father’s glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:16–21)