Read on for the third installment in our Advent series. This time we hear from John Bourgeois, City Church's Pastoral Intern...
Like many of you, I try to rely on sentimentalized versions of the Christmas story to get me through these dark days of winter. I love thinking of Mary, Joseph, and their baby Jesus happily posed on my mantlepiece surrounded by donkeys and sheep and oxen. Or, I daydream of having a working fireplace so that if people were to peer through our window, they would mistake our living room for a scene painted by Norman Rockwell.
But this Christmas, we don’t have the luxury of make-believe. For many of us, the tragedy in Newtown has pierced our shiny Christmas veneer. At least for the moment, the visions of sugar-plums have stopped dancing, and we’re left with the horrific reality of evil.
On Sunday night, our President addressed the nation from an auditorium in Newtown. As he sought to console the bereaved, he could not make sense of Friday’s massacre outside of the Christian story. It seems that the only story that makes adequate sense of reality, especially in the face of horrific evil, is the one that centers on the death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In Revelation 12, the Apostle John gives us a different view into the birth of this Son. Rather than setting the scene with feeding troughs and no-vacancy inns, the canvas is painted in the cosmic array of sun, moon and stars. Rather than placing us in the historic setting of Caesar Augustus’ decree (Luke 2) and Herod’s slaughter of the firstborn sons (Matthew 2), John’s nativity is set in the presence of a seven-headed dragon salivating at the opportunity to devour the Christ-child at his birth.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:1-6)
In the truest sense, the problem with horrific evil is dealt with by God himself. Jesus was born out of the chaos of the cosmic battle into the chaos of this earth so that he deal with it once and for all through his death and resurrection. In Advent, we celebrate the coming of our King, the “one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron,” the one who will establish his peace as far as the curse is found. Friends, as you live in the reality of horrific evil, join me in crying out to our King, “Come, Lord Jesus!”