Friday, December 22, 2017

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

John 14:1-7
Vs. 2,3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going.” 
Once as Christmas was nearing, a Judge questioned the man who had been brought into his courtroom.  "Now then, please tell me, what is the charge against you?".  " I was caught doing my Christmas shopping very early." replied the man in the dock.  "That doesn't seem like an offense to me. What do you mean by 'very early?  "Well, your Honor." said the defendant, "It was before the shop was open."                                        
Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season overwhelms us to the point we lose our true focus.  The message of Christmas is that our Savior has come but, it is also a reminder to us that Jesus Christ will come again.  Throughout the season of Advent, the Church prepares to "receive her King" our triumphant Lord who will return.  It is this faith that enables us to see Christmas not just as another holiday but, as an enduring testimony of God's faithfulness, love and promise of salvation for all humanity.  As we recognize Mar Thoma Church day during this time, we affirm that Christ Jesus has chosen us to truly be the Church, His living and loving Body in the world.  We may understand Advent more as we relate it to the given passage.
Advent, Assurance of Acceptance
In this passage, before Jesus Christ is crucified He comforts His disciples by offering them a vision of eternity and life anew.  Jesus says that He is going to "His Father's house" where there are "many rooms".  As Christ attributes the house and rooms therein to the Heavenly Father God, Jesus communicates its eternal significance.  That is, it is the promise of a place for the believer within the divine abode of God.  In one essence, this was also the hope of the faithful in the Old Testament vocalized by the psalmist in the Psalm 15, "Who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?" Jesus Christ assures His disciples, though finite and mortal, that in their experience of faith they have been graciously granted acceptance and space with the infinite and immortal God.  Advent reminds us powerfully this Christmas season that the birth of Christ Jesus ushered forth an outpouring of divine grace; a grace that challenges us to prepare ourselves for the promised eternity.  Our Lord God Jesus Christ who entered this world as a babe was offered no space and  "His own did not receive Him".  Yet, it is this Jesus Christ, Love Incarnate, who assures His disciples and the faithful a place and loving reception in eternity.  
Advent, Promise of Divine Presence
The miraculous incarnation of Jesus Christ reveals the love of God and His divine intention to bond with humanity in intimate relationship.  In this passage, Christ Jesus states "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am".   In these words we find the epitome of relationship that is characterized by oneness of dwelling with Christ.  It is an everlasting and candid relationship where there are no constraints of space, time or boundaries.  God entered creation to be with humanity and showed the way, truth and life humanity could be with Him.  Advent affirms this  promise that the love of God beckons us to the true fellowship and dwelling in His divine presence.  It is the tremendous faith that the believer shall never be separate from God in this life or in eternity to come.  The promise is so powerful because when humanity moved away God, He moved closer to humanity to the point of incarnation and sacrificial death.  The season of Advent and Christmas challenges us to relate to God deeper and witness His presence always.
Are you ready to just celebrate Christmas or Christ?
Lord God, help us to adorn humility, practice love, foster faith and witness peace so our hearts would prepare Him room as heaven and nature sing.  Amen.
“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell Him you have received His Christmas gift.” John R. Rice
Rev. Jaisen Thomas, St. Thoma MTC, Yonkers, NY
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church