In the endless press of the Christmas season, we often get distracted from the reason we’re celebrating. We reduce Christmas to presents and toys and parties – or, as Dr. Seuss says, we think Christmas “comes from a store.” But Paul’s eruption of praise at the close of his letter to the Romans reminds us to stop and marvel at the truly good news of Christmas: God has come among us, to rescue us and make us new. How can we not celebrate when we remember that Christmas is about God’s presence in our lives, not the presents we can buy?
Last week, Peter told us to “live holy and godly lives” as we wait for the End. But what does that look like? Christians often turn to spiritual practices like reading scripture or prayer, but just as often, those practices leave us feeling empty. If we learn to approach these practices for transformation rather than information, we will unlock the key to spiritual life: we must wait for God to make us holy. And we can trust that God will, because God is faithful to come to us, as the first Christmas proves.
Our culture is pessimistic about where the world is going. And you’d think Christians are just as bad, what with our fire-and-brimstone apocalypse. But the earliest followers of Jesus looked forward to the End. For them, it wasn’t the end of everything, just the end of injustice. So they celebrated that God has been holding off, because every day is one more day for people to find the life God is inviting us all into. And God invites all of us to join in his rescue mission, to speed the coming of the End by living as breathing invitations to escape death and find life!