30 years have passed since that starry night.
At the time, Jerusalem had been astir upon hearing the news from distant travelers coming from the far, far east in search of a new king. It had roused the interest of many including Herod the Great who had extensively interrogated the ancient astrologers. The Jewish rabbis and scribes had been summoned to explain the sacred prophecies telling of a future, promised king, now all but a muted, impoverished longing of the Jews. But, that was 30 years ago. It didn’t matter now.
Whatever tattered hope there had been been had long ago been discarded. Yet, God had not forgotten. He was still purposefully unfolding the story written long beyond time. The Great Author of Life had planned another baby, also born 30 years ago, in whom He had placed His own Spirit. A plain man, John called the Baptist, was now homesteading in the desert areas feeding off locust and honey. Being filled with the spirit, the man had one mission. Although refusing attention to himself, the message given was bold and clear: “You must change your hearts—for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived!” It was a strange clarion call, for he did not summon his countrymen to arms to blaze wars for the ancient kingdom of Israel. Oh, there were such zealots still; but, no, he was making ready for something greater which required much more of the one heeding the call. The gospel writer Matthew wrote, “This was the man whom the prophet Isaiah spoke about in the words: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’.” How does one prepare the way of the Lord anyway? God’s message given to John was the same prophetic message echoed throughout the Word of God, “Wash you, make you clean: put away the evil of your doings.” No, God didn’t want an army ready to strike. Why would He? He didn’t need their paltry power. God desired humble hearts willing to be washed free of the sins that held them so long captive and crushed their longings with hollow hopes. Theologian and professor Don Carson writes, “So, instead of marching up, a host of warriors, to the Roman citadel, the people troop down, band after band of penitents, to the Jordan, confessing their sins.”
The commander’s clarion call has always been, “Turn ye unto Me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts.” It is a divine summons to the heart to return to his heart of unfailing love. Will you believe? Do you want a new heart? Long ago, the prophet had foretold, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you and I will put my spirit within you.”
Thirty years later after that starry night, the clarion call summons our hearts to believe in God’s love for the world, in His Son sent as HOPE born, in the fulfilling of ancient promises, so that all who will believe may live in His forever love.
This is the beautiful message of a Christmas that never ends.
“Preparing for the holidays is primarily a preparing of the heart. Because what comes down is love
and the way to receive love isn’t to wrap anything up
— but to unwrap your heart.