Today I learned that I shouldn’t be singing carols as long as suffering persists in the world.
At least that’s the charge of John Pavlovitz, a Christian progressivist blogger whose post I stumbled across today, quite unintentionally, in the course of my internet wanderings (I will not link it). He says our holiday joy should take a sober and subdued form as long as poverty, disease, injustice, and war persist.
I’m still trying to decide how literal he’s being. At first, this seems like a rigid and unfair stance. Suffering will always be around. The poor will always be with us. If you’re holding out for utopia on earth, you’re in for a long wait.
Should we never again sing at Christmas, then?
Ahhh, here it is…the day after.
Adulthood consists mostly of three things, I think: paying bills, keeping your mouth shut, and grappling with the day after.
With Christmas behind us, there is now a comedown. Family is gone, the tree and wrapping paper have mutated from colorful expectation to
trash recycling fodder, and now we have to confront just how much the entire affair has strained our waistlines and credit cards.
If you’re don’t struggle with this “day after”, I’m certainly happy for you. Certainly, there’s some relief in escaping the pressure of busyness and getting to unwrap that “peace and quiet” present we wanted most of all. But for others of us, there is, I think, an odd letdown. A crash back to earth. If it hasn’t come already, it might still, once the last of the family has hopped in the van and left, or once New Year’s is past.
I read Matthew’s Christmas story last night. It took no less than two chapters to blow me away.
Reading God’s word is never a chore, for we always uncover something fresh and unexpected. This time, for me, it was the sheer number of prophecies being fulfilled about Jesus before he could even walk. You can’t swing a dead cat in Matthew 2 without hitting a prophecy. These events were seemingly random, sometimes tragic, and it’s difficult to imagine that the prophets who described them even understood how they would unfold. In just the first two chapters, there are a whopping nine prophecies fulfilled, making the likelihood of fulfillment almost astronomical without even accounting for prophecies in other books.
Let’s get into it.
#1: The virgin birth fulfilling Isaiah 7:14
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (1:20-23)