Coming in April – Lord, Teach Us To Pray, daily reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

The Tenth Day of Advent- December 6

PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.


So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

Do you have a favorite Christmas sermon you have heard, one that stays with you through the years? I ask that because preachers work hard on their Christmas sermons, wanting to retell ‘the old, old story’ in ways that are fresh and original, and hopefully in less time than 15 minutes. I remember hearing a sermon about the Wise Men as the seeker generation on a spiritual journey. There was another sermon about the young teen Mary daring to believe God’s impossible promise and step out in bold faith. Then there was the sermon about the faithful donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem, and many years later, carrying Jesus into Jerusalem to die on a cross. We like Christmas sermons that elevate our spirits and inspire us with models of giving and selfless love.

Yet, Christmas is not about good examples to follow, nor about something for us to do. Christmas is about something done for us. It is all about Immanuel coming to be with us, to take to Himself our fallen and dying humanity and give us His life. Jesus could do that, because He made us. He has been with us from Creation. Jesus came to make His life our life; His death our death; His resurrection our resurrection; and His ascension our ascension (Romans 6:3-4; Ephesians 2:4-6). Christmas is God joining Himself to our broken humanity so that everything Jesus is becomes ours: His righteousness, His victory, His glory.

Christmas is the Gospel good news, not that we need to make ourselves better, but that Jesus makes us “new creations” as we are joined to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17). He gives us a new identity: we are in Him and He is in us (John 14:20; 15:5-7). That is who we are as participants in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We live in thankfulness out of this new humanity given to us in Immanuel Jesus. “We were and are bound up in what happened to him [Jesus]. We were implicated in what happened to Jesus, so much so that our identity, our existence our past, present, our relationship with God and with one another and with creation were all fundamentally ordered in this one man [Jesus].” (C. Baxter Kruger, Jesus and the Undoing of Adam)

Today’s scripture builds upon our wondrous identity in Christ, reminding us that Christ is our very life: “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” Even chained in a Roman, prison Paul can boldly say: “For to me living is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Immanuel joins Himself to us, in His incarnation, so that we enter into His life. Our joys, our sorrows, our prayers, growth and mission are all sharing in the life of Jesus.

Oxford theologian Michael Reeves looks at what our oneness with Jesus means as we look at our past, present and future:

“PAST: Having died with him, we can look no further back into our past than him. Christ, not failure, is our history.

PRESENT: United to him, we now share his glad life and standing before the Father. Filled with his Spirit, we are made ever more like him.

FUTURE: The judge of all the earth is our faithful Savior: when he appears we will be with him, we will be like him and we will be co-heirs with him.” (Michael Reeves, Rejoicing in Christ)

Yet, today’s scripture says that “this life is hidden with Christ in God” as we await Christ’s coming in glory. This means that the glory, the righteousness, and the holiness, now ours, are hidden from the world, and even from us. We do not see ourselves as God now sees us. “For now we see through a glass, darkly…” (1 Corinthians 13:12a). Just as the world did not know Jesus (John 1:10-11), so the world does not know us and what it means that we are God’s children. But we await Christ’s Second Advent when we “will be revealed with Him in glory.” That wondrous day will be “the revealing of the children of God” (Romans 8:19).

This is the sermon I would preach this Christmas: Immanuel has done it!

CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.

REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.

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