Hey Senior Camp! It’s Karol again, from Vancouver. If you remember me, I’m the speaker from 2 years ago. hope you I’m excited to be given the chance to post here again for the 12 Blogs of Christmas!
I wanted to share something with you all, and I hope it is a Christmas feast for your soul. This time of year, if we hang around Christians and churches, we will probably hear a lot of people talk about “the true meaning of Christmas”. Christmas isn’t about presents and trees and lights, they’ll say; all those things are nice, but what it’s really about is Jesus! Two thousand years ago, God the World-Maker came to Earth as a little baby to open the way for us to be with Him, and nothing has ever been the same. Now, this is true! If we don’t use Christmas to look back and celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are missing a huge opportunity to bask in the glory of God, and to be changed by Him.
But that’s not quite all there is to celebrate at Christmas. For many years, Christians have used Christmas and Advent (the time before Christmas) not just to look back to the first coming of Jesus, but to look forward to His second coming!
As we look around at the world, even during Christmas, we see sadness and suffering everywhere. For many people with painful situations at home, this is one of the hardest times of year, where family problems are amplified and made impossible to ignore. For the homeless here in Canada, Christmas is a time not of warmth and feasting, but of long, cold, and lonely winter nights. All is not right in the world. If we’re honest with ourselves, all is not right in our hearts either. During this time where we are supposed to be celebrating God’s generous gift to us, we are filled with greed, selfishness, and disregard for others (and yes – I am talking about you!).
The Bible sings with the promise that Jesus will one day come again, and it is all these things that will be destroyed when he comes again in glory. Listen to the apostle John as he tells us what he saw when God showed him a vision of the second coming:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away… But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:1-4, 27)
When I spoke at Senior Camp, this is the last passage that I spoke on – it’s one that it’s pretty much impossible to read too many times. No more mourning! No more death! Such closeness to God that he wipes the very tears off our faces! I’ve included that last verse as well, because even though it is uncomfortable, it assures us that our sin, which causes so much suffering, will have no place when Jesus comes again. Everyone in that “book of life” was once a sinner, forgiven by Jesus. When we come face to face with the God of Heaven, source of every pleasure and joy, it is such an encouragement to know that our selfishness, anger, and hatred will not come with us.
This is our great hope. Not just our own personal forgiveness and a trip to clouds-and-harps heaven! We are promised a world remade, filled with sinners redeemed into saints, with King Jesus on the throne. This is the fuel for life filled with the joy of God. Without it, we will lose ourselves in the small sins and petty struggles of everyday life. This Christmas, remember that King Jesus is coming back, and pray with Christians throughout history: Come soon, Lord Jesus! Come soon.