Christmas Through the Eyes of __________________
November 29, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
While I was growing up my pastor did a sermon series during Advent titled “Christmas Through the Eyes of ____________.” Each sermon looked at the birth of Christ through the eyes of a different participant in the event. We heard sermons about the perspectives of Joseph and Mary and Herod and Gabriel and the Shepherds and so on. Our pastor carried on this series over multiple Advents.
One of the points that struck me throughout this series was that the coming of Christ had a multi-faceted impact on the people of this world. For some, Christ’s arrival brought joy. For others there was fear or uncertainty or threat. Still others were skeptical. The person of Christ and the celebration of Christmas continues to have this multi-faceted impact on people. Are we aware of this for ourselves and for those we interact with during this season?
During this Advent at Oak Hills we will be looking at Christmas Through the Eyes of Jeremiah (yes, I’m stealing the idea from my pastor, although he never did a sermon on Jeremiah). Jeremiah typically is not looked up during the Advent season for “Christmas passages.” People are familiar with Isaiah 7 (“the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”), Isaiah 9 (“for to us a child is born…”), and Micah 5 (“O Bethlehem…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler”). And we love Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 for the birth narratives. But…Jeremiah? The “Weeping Prophet”? What does he have to do with Christmas?
Jeremiah stands in a long line of people who were waiting for the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. The line is headed by Adam and Eve who waited for the one who would crush the head of the serpent. They are followed by saints like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Hezekiah, Isaiah, and, Jeremiah’s contemporary and, perhaps, friend, Josiah. God had promised at various times in various ways to these faithful followers deliverance, security, a future, peaceful rule, and even eternal life. And yet they never saw these promises come in their fullness. Sin and the rebellious hearts of God’s people kept getting in the way. How could God keep these promises for such a rebellious people?
Enter Jeremiah. He preaches and writes during one of the darkest periods of history for the people of God. Because of sin and rebellion severe judgment and devastation fell on Jerusalem and the land of Judah. Many questioned whether there was any hope of seeing the promises fulfilled. Jeremiah grieved over the destruction but also brought a message of hope. God was not done. God would not fail to fulfill his promises. There is still one to come who will overcome the power of sin and rebellious hearts. Jeremiah identifies this one as the “Righteous Branch of David” (23:5 & 33:15).
In this light, Jeremiah provides for us a window into the perspective of those who are grieving and afflicted as they approach Christmas. The holiday itself may be the source of the grief and affliction. Jeremiah also provides, however, the means to look beyond the grief and affliction; God is not done. God will not fail to fulfill his promises. The pain and suffering are not the final word. There is one who has come and will come again who changes everything.
This is Christmas through the eyes of Jeremiah. I invite you to put on his “glasses,” his perspective, this Advent as you face your own afflictions, or walk with others in their afflictions, and look for the “Righteous Branch of David.”