It is Christmas Morning, and the readings today are much longer than usual. For two reasons. I have a little more time, and this is one of the great and holy days for those who keep times and seasons — which is all Christendom apart from the anabaptists, ultracalvinists and those groups who, like the adventists and Jehovah’s Witness, have embraced heresy. The rule of Valentian is useful here: if most churches in most traditions do this it usually is correct, for it is in all churches.
The second reason is that the texts talk of a restoration. It is not of our doing, but it requires that we stand as a witness and a warning. The secular have tried to take Christ out of Christmas and Christmas out of society. As if you can have the form of religion without the power of it.
So turn up and worship and praise God. Last night the hall was packed: we turned up 20 minutes early and just as well. For Christ calls us to reform and to love.
Besides, we can all do with Carols.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And the LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.”
Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
(Zechariah 2:10-13 ESV)
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O LORD,
and grant us your salvation.
Let me hear what God the LORD will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
(Psalm 85:4-9 ESV)
Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one
The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”
(Psalm 132:8-12 ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(1 John 4:7-16 ESV)
It is not time to hate. Hate is the mind killer. Hate is of the enemy. We struggle not against men, but against the ideology that turns humanity to orcs in a misguided hope that this will not make us less, but better.
We struggle against the forces of evil that would reave and destroy, within our nations, in our villages, within our homes and in our soul. At times we protect: with acts, using words when needed. (Pacifism is not the practice of all the churches, but witness to the point of death is).
Let us pray for repentance and reform, today, for Christ came as King, Lord and sacrifice for our sins and our misdeeds. He came for the cross. Today we celebrate his birth.
But the highest and holiest days celebrate his resurrection
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous, Godly and Righteous New Year.