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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus


Second Sunday in Advent

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

2 Peter 3:8-14

Two little boys were doing their part to get ready for Christmas, by cleaning up their room. The project was long overdue! As they dug stuff out of the closet and out from under the bed, they assessed the inventory of broken toys and incomplete games and puzzles. And the younger boy turned to his brother and said, “We really need Christmas!”

We’re reminded every day that we need Christmas, too. We hear that we need Christmas to make the world a better place, to make us feel good, to give our economy a boost, to give us what we need to make us happy, to turn us again to the pursuit of peace and love and concern for our neighbor. We need the change, the revival, the renewal that the little boys hoped to find in the packages under the tree. We need Christmas. But our needs go a lot deeper than new toys! And we may wonder if Christmas can really do anything for us. It isn’t broken dolls that trouble us, but broken lives. Broken by the stress of living. Broken by selfishness, or sickness, or immorality, or any of dozens of ways we manage to mess up our lives. It’s not wheels off toy trucks that concern us. It’s more likely the loss of those things, or those people that we counted on.

It’s more than missing pieces of a puzzle; it’s honest confusion about how we’re supposed to act, and react, in our daily lives. We’ve been wounded by disappointment; we’ve been hurt by loneliness; we’ve been confused and troubled by a world that calls evil good, and good evil. We need Christmas all right. We need mending and renewing. But where will we find it? Where shall we look for the mending, the filling, the renewing that we need?

Our Resources

We can look under the Christmas tree, like the little boys plan to, and we’ll probably find some gifts from our friends and relatives – but we won’t find anything there to meet our longing for a life made right again, to restore the missing pieces, to give us direction in the days ahead, to support our plans for the future, or to wipe away the effects of sin we’re living with. The most wonderful gift under the tree won’t give us a foundation to build our lives on, or to base our hopes of eternal life on.

We can look inside ourselves, too, but we won’t find what we need there either. The little boys trying to find all the pieces to their toys and games is a little bit like us making New Year’s resolutions: we’re going to start doing this, and quit doing that – but when we try to make our lives right by ourselves, we fail – miserably.

We can just leave things alone, believing that “time heals all wounds”, but that won’t solve anything either. Time is a precious gift from God, but time doesn’t heal wounds! Wounds may heal over a period of time – but it certainly isn’t time that heals them! Time doesn’t heal lives damaged by sin. In fact, time can prolong and worsen the hurts and sorrows others cause us – and we cause for others!

A number of years ago, our family was visiting Hershey Pennsylvania. We were in a gift shop and Valerie, who was probably about 10 years old, kept picking up ceramic animals and knick-knacks to look at them. We showed her a sign that said, “Lovely To Look At, And Lovely To Hold; But If You Break It, Consider It Sold.” And we told her to quit handling everything. She had some money and could buy something if she wanted to, but if she broke something she’d have to buy that one! Well, a couple of minutes later she picked up two Bluebirds sitting on a branch, dropped it on the floor, and it broke in half. It was not what she wanted to buy – but it was what she bought! She wasn’t happy, but she had to live with the results of her actions.

And people might say that about our lives. “You broke your life; you broke off the wheels; you lost the pieces; you crippled yourself with your sins. And now you don’t want to pay for your actions. You broke it – now you live with it!”

We deserve to live with life as broken as it is. We’ve played a major role in messing up the life God has given us. We’re the ones who’ve lost the pieces from the picture of God’s purpose for us. Our sins have separated us from God and from people in our lives. Most of the problems and grief I’ve experienced in life, I’ve brought on myself. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you were the major cause of your problems too!

Needs Met In Jesus

The Christmas we really need comes in the Savior whom the Father promised to send, the Savior who came and took on flesh and blood to be one of us, and to make us His. The answer to our confusion and disappointments, our loneliness and our hurts, is Jesus. The answer to our Christmas needs is the Savior who left the glory of Heaven to take our place under the Law – to take our place on the Cross – to take our place before God’s judgement seat.

Jesus came to fix our brokenness; He came to heal our sin-sickness; He came to die for us, and to rise again, that we might have life in His name.

That’s the Christmas we need! We need that Savior promised to us by the Father. We need Him to get us into a right relationship with the Father. We need Him to teach us how to live. We need Him – and He has come! That’s what we celebrate at Christmas!

Kept In Christ For Eternity

In the season of Advent we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas. But we also are to prepare our hearts for His Second Coming. Peter wrote in our epistle lesson: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare… But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new Heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

God promises that in His time He’ll create a new Heaven and a new earth – maybe a thousand years from now – maybe today! Then this life of tears will be replaced forever with a life of unending joy and gladness.

Children are already asking, “How long until Christmas?” And we might ask the same thing, “How long, Lord, until your promises to meet my needs are fulfilled?” His answer comes in the angel’s announcement that we’ll be remembering in just a couple weeks: “A Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”

Jesus meets our Christmas needs now! He heals the conscience wounded by sin; He speaks to the confused heart that searches for a purpose in life; He comforts the troubled soul that seeks God’s forgiveness; He mends the broken hearts.

Jesus meets our needs now as He calls us to His table. The meal He serves to meet our needs is His own body and His own blood, given and shed for us. The blessing given at this table is His gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation. It’s the blessed assurance that God’s gift of mercy comes also to us.

Jesus meets our needs today, but He also promises to meet our needs in the future. Contrary to what the scoffers of our day say about the return of our Savior in glory, in the fullness of time, just as He came to us in Bethlehem, Jesus will come again. He’ll come quickly, as the exalted Messiah, to call all who trust in Him to everlasting life.

We really need Christmas. And Jesus meets that need. The broken is mended, the empty is filled, the incomplete is finished, and our wounds are healed. Jesus is God’s answer!

Set your hopes for Christmas in Jesus. Stand firm in your faith in the God of all grace, who has called you to Himself through Jesus Christ. His Word is true; His promises are faithful. He will keep you for the day of His coming. “To Him be glory, both now and forever!”


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