Far from the shopping and presents, far from the bustle of neighbours, far from the tinsel, evergreen trees, and family dinners, Christ was born in an unlikely place, practically not welcome. Our reflection on the Christ-child, whether daily or at this season, brings us to consider what treasures could there possibly be for us in the strange ways and unusual events that surround the grand event. There are those who might perhaps ask why is there a day, without biblical foundation, celebrated as the birthday of the king of kings. There are three days in the year when Israelites used to gather in Jeruslaem to celebrate various acts of Yahweh. It cannot be an accursed thing if the rulers of our nations have enacted laws creating three statutory holidays, each connected to the acts of Christ. Good Friday and Easter Monday can be related to the Gospel or to the Biblical Passover (which is an eight-day festival by the way), and Christmas day, although having roots in the annual solstice, bears the Lord’s name. If at all one deems it an unclean thing one might recall that contact with unclean people and food in exile was an essential part of Israel’s correction. When ways are logged one will find that human ways and God’s part. When he zigs, we zag. When he is busy up opening doors we slam them shut. The Christ-child concerns will be seen to accentuate the difference between God’s ways and ours, and a healthy and beneficial relationship with the newborn king will revolve around the preparation, the light, the correction.
THE WAY OF PREPARATION
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, Luke. 1:76
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, Mark. 1:2
The preparation of which John speaks begins with repentance, a change of mind, so that the things of Christ will come into focus and not be drowned out by the things from one’s tradition.
THE WAY OF DAYLIGHT
Compared to the work and the person of Christ the previous messages and arrangements are a dark night. He eclipses the lights of Israelite history as handily as pardon and grace outshine the condemnation of the Law
knowing (a) we have been stumbling on our journey and (b) injuring one another on an ill-advised warpath a change had to come and the visit in tender mercy meets the need.
[because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high Luke. 1:78] to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke. 1:79
THE WAY OF PEACE
Peace has been elusive even when it was the common interest we could not avoid. The king’s messenger had the assignment to create a living connection to peace and not merely intangible atonement such as one gets from animal sacrifice. Violence and oppression have lingered in the air since the first homicide. They have accompanied all the crises in the Israelite experience. When given the resources humans have taken peace away from their neighbours and their own communities.
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke. 1:79b
THE WAY OF CORRECTION
Correction was necessary since someone had been messing with Yahweh’s ways. Christ lumps his predecessors into a bag of robbery. Every human being, leaders and followers, is involved in robbing Christ of the glory due him.
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”Matthew 3:3
A confession that “We have been going down wrong roads” is in order, if people know anything about God’s call to holiness and human nature.
The entire generation in which John and Yeshua lived was characterized as crooked and perverse. Our generation is not less crooked and perverse. It is more so. Coming to the manger is secondary to coming to the cross. We can fill up the joy of living by accepting the coming of the Saviour into the world and by coming to the cross. Both movements are treasured by people in the modern era and this could not be said of the times of Christ’s arrival and crucifixion.
We Prepare Yahweh’s Ways by renouncing the crooked and perverse things we have inherited and embraced.