Please don't misunderstand me. The Christmas story is not a childhood fantasy, a concocted mixture of a little prince who grows up in poverty, is rescued from obscurity to become a handsome king and lives happily ever after. Childhood doesn't last forever and happiness will not be found in any fantasy of power or wealth.
We have just gone through a grueling election, now followed by shock, despair, joy and questions. What next? Will this change produce positive solutions for rank and file people, world tensions and the future? What about all those campaign promises and threats?
In the magnificence of Salisbury Cathedral of England I discovered a quiet little side chapel that contains the martyrs’ candle. It is a place where you can meditate on the lives of all those who have been killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. At the altar there is a large candle, but instead of a glass cylinder shielding it there is a spiral of barbed wire to which are attached various symbols of violence, warfare and suffering.
As a young child my anticipation intensified as the time approached to go to my grandparents in Chicago for Christmas. Grandmother's unusual nativity scene included a lot more than most. It included sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, kittens, and puppies alongside the familiar camels and donkey. I would lay on my stomach and rearrange the figures that surrounded baby Jesus. That was my introduction to the magic called Christmas.
Forgive my sports metaphor, but last night as I write this, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after 108 years. That's a long time and a lot of disappointments for Cub fans to hold on to hope, but the dream came true!
This world does not understand God's grace, even though its meaning is powerfully displayed in the cross of Christ. Thank God for his strange book called Revelation, that is so much more than a timetable or another “Da Vinci Code” novel. We are reading “the last chapter” and it is hope – not wishful thinking – but God's answer that defeats evil forever!
When the Apostle John experienced God’s revelation on Patmos, he was living in a world of despair. Society was divided between a small, powerful, wealthy class and an enormous impoverished and oppressed lower class. In the isolation of Patmos, John saw a vision of God. Instead of an angel promising John he too could be could be powerful and wealthy, the vision was a scene of worship before God’s throne in heaven.
Revelation is written in a style that fits into the fashionable entertainment of our day: sci-fi, mythological creatures at war and strange beings from another dimension, connected by violence and terror.