As I sit to offer you a word of encouragement today, I don’t know where to begin. So much has happened and converged around this time! There was the mass shooting in the school in Connecticut last week; Christmas is just around the corner; today is the first day of winter; and if you’re reading this, there’s a better-than-reasonable probability that the Mayans got it wrong when their calendar came to a screeching halt on this day. If there is any commonality here, it is time.
Perhaps the best word I can offer you came from the teacher, Qoheleth, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes: “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God” (Ecclesiastes 3.11-13, NLT).
The older we get, the faster time seems to fly (unless we’re standing in a queue at the Licence Bureau, or something like that). For those school children and teachers, their time is now measured in eternal units. Christmas is not just a day to be marked with the sharing of gifts, but is a lifestyle to be lived throughout our lives. The shortest day of the year – therefore, the longest night of the year – arrives with this day, yet we have much to which to look forward. And the Mayan “prediction”? Well, Jesus told us that nobody knows when the end will truly come, when he will come again to consummate time as we know it. Our job is to be ready.
As the season of Advent draws to a close, we are reminded that it not only prepares us for Jesus’ first coming, but also for his second coming. Too often, we ignore this in our preparations for Christmas, don’t we? Jesus will come again. He will judge the world. He will receive his faithful people to himself. And for followers of Jesus, there is great comfort in this truth.
God has made everything beautiful for its own time. We measure time with our watches and calendars, but God can see all time with absolute clarity. What better reason is there to trust him with our lives?
I wish you and yours the merriest of Christmases, the richest of blessings, and the deepest prayers for a new year filled with hope and peace. Celebrate the coming of our Saviour in these days. Pray for those for whom this season is devoid of meaning because they have no relationship with God. And allow God to use you in the answering of your own prayers as you invite friends and loved ones to experience the joy of the Lord in the life and worship of the church.