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Merry Messiahmas

3 weeks ago written by

Daydreams are those pleasant “lost-in-thought” moments of enjoying what-if scenarios. I daydream of leather seats in a new car, or an exotic vacation with palm trees and lazy ceiling fans, or maybe a Saturday binging on college football and Doritos. You can see I’m good at this! Daydreams are respite care for my frazzled nerves and the overwrought parts of my brain that worry about risks and threats. I suppose you may daydream from time to time too. It’s a way for us to hope, isn’t it?

I hate to be a Scrooge during this Christmas season, but you may have noticed that your life isn’t very much like your daydreams. Did I just hear an ornament fall? To be honest, which may be the best policy but isn’t always the most comforting, life is hard. It’s filled with sickness, friction, conflict and division, and eventually death wins and snatches us all. “‘Tis the season to be jolly!”

As I’ve spent the last six years immersed in the Gospel of Luke preparing the “Here’s Jesus” videos and book, I’ve seen Jesus navigating that space between dreams and reality. The hours, days, months and years of memorizing and editing Luke have forced me to stare at the reality of Jesus’ life rather than prepackaged little sections that we preach on as though they were pick-me-up devotional materials. I’ve been forced to see that His life wasn’t daydream-like. It wasn’t even pleasant. It was filled with conflict. It was a rare day when Luke doesn’t record someone butting heads with Jesus. Not much like what anybody expected would happen when the Messiah showed up. If the Messiah came to fix the world, why was the world so dead set against Him?

Yet through that turbulence Jesus keeps talking about something very different, the kingdom of God. Is that kingdom a daydream, or something more: a glimpse? Ah, that’s it, isn’t it? It’s a glimpse of what’s coming. It’s hope, it’s assurance, and it’s faith. The kingdom of God is more than an escapist daydream; it’s a description of what’s comin’ round the bend. That coming coming (hard to say it that way, isn’t it?) is why Christmas is such a hope-filled time. Christmas is the robin of spring, the red maple leaf of fall, the first flurry of winter. Christmas is the Messiah bringing us a gift, yes, but also a peek under the wrapping of a much bigger gift.

Because it was much more than a daydream, Jesus was insistent on telling us about that kingdom where God is King. In Luke alone, He talks about that kingdom of God 32 times! He keeps talking about that place where God rules because that place is moving toward us; it’s coming; it’s almost upon us. And Christmas (literally “the Messiah’s Mass”) recognizes and celebrates that coming. Jesus came. Messiah came. He has given us a glimpse of what it will be like, when all things are delivered from oppression.

The title “Messiah” is interchangeable with the title “Christ.” Those two titles are the Hebrew and Greek versions of each other. “Christ” wasn’t Jesus’ last name (and “H” wasn’t His middle initial).

Also note that we don’t use the title “Messiah” in a personal sense the same way we do “Savior.” We speak of a “personal savior” but not a “personal messiah.” “Because “Messiah” is the deliverer of the larger community, of the whole thing, not just my personal spiritual butler to fix my little messes. Jesus, the Messiah, is the global Redeemer. Merry Messiahmas!

Which brings us back to the question of daydreams. Do you have daydreams that aren’t personal? Like, do you have global daydreams? I suspect not, other than hope for the cliché of “world peace.” We might not, but Jesus did, and still does. That’s what the Messiah does, fixes it all. He doesn’t just sort out my immediate problems, He’s sorting out the whole thing for everybody everywhere. Messiah is the rescue King. Help is on His way!

I’m not buying a new car, I don’t really want a beach vacation, and Doritos give me heartburn. Those daydreams of mine are really just my appropriations of someone else’s fantasies, not visions for a new future. Really, deep down, I long for a true fix, a permanent fix, a worldwide fix. I long for and dream of the Messiah’s kingdom fully overwhelming and consuming the evil that so easily springs from us and our global neighbors. I long for all the evil to be placed under His feet. I long for all His goodness to be poured over us, healing us and fueling our praise of His perfect reign. Merry Messiahmas!

 

Bishop Emeritus David Roller and his wife, Yvonne Roller, filmed “Here’s Jesus,” a telling of the book of Luke, in 45 countries around the world. Visit heresjesus.org for the videos and fmchr.ch/heresjesusb to buy a signed copy of the accompanying travel-guide book from the Light + Life Bookstore.

 

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[Bishops] · L + L December 2019