Revelations 22:51NIV New International Version Translations
5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Here it is, another year gone by, Christmas has come and gone. We pulled all those decorations down from our attics, decorated our homes, went to church, passed the candles singing Silent Night, had the big family dinner and shared gifts, most of which we really did not need. Now it is time to put Christmas back in the attic, or worse yet, put Christ in the attic too. For this study, it is time to reflect on what is a repetitive set of holiday events, year after year but never seem to make our world a better place. Are we moving closer to what the Apostle John foresaw as our hope, a time filled with only Christ’s light? It is interesting to note that our Bible both begins and ends with Light. God first creates light (Genesis) from within the darkness and we end in Revelations with the constant light of Christ eliminating darkness because of His Light (see The Power of Light). The Bible is thick so there must be a few things happening in between the beginning and the end. Lets see if they can be distilled into an action plan for humanity. By now, we should know that it is all about the “Light.”
Every Christian should know that Light is good and darkness is not. Light, our candle metaphor, can amazingly be passed on without diminishing its original light. In fact, it is that Christmas tradition of candle sharing that shows us how one candle, the Christ Candle of Advent can begin a process of sharing that lights an entire room. Too soon, however, we move on and extinguish those candles. Life in this world marches on. There are still hungry children, unheated homes, people living in their cars, unemployed workers, terminally ill people, and that is probably happening just within your own neighborhood. Christ came to change that, not through grand government giveaway programs but a grander God giveaway program. God is extending the free gift of Grace, His Son would die and remove our gilt and sin, and people’s hearts would pour out generosity like the world has never seen. Except for one thing, the candles are blown out, Christ is back in the attic and the world’s suffering goes on.
In Revelations, the Apostle John describes a vision of the holy city Jerusalem coming from heaven from God. John uses the image of this city in Revelation 21:10-22:5 as an image of the qualities of life that make up what will be a new heaven and a new earth. In Revelation 18, John had described the Roman Empire, a place that is foul, immoral, and over which a funeral song is already being sung. While many believe we must wait for our new heaven to come, we do have a choice in this world now. Christ is still with us, alive in our world. We can live with Him, we can live for Him, choosing to share His Light.
The new Jerusalem contains only those things that build up community, such as the glory and honor of the nations, and the nations and rulers living in its ways. The things that disrupt community have been destroyed (Revelation 21:27; see Revelation 21:8) in this new community. Revelation 21:5 draws on a traditional apocalyptic notion that, after the apocalypse, the faithful will reign with God. However, John has earlier indicated the nature of this rule: the saints worship God in the pattern of Revelation 4:9-11 by laying their crowns before God. To reign with God, is to serve God’s purposes. My premise is that we do not have to wait until the apocalypse. Christmas, this Christmas season should be a reminder of our Savior, a reminder that we can choose to step into God’s Kingdom any time we like, even now. How one might ask? Confess Christ as our Lord, repent of our sins and never blow the candle out! Keep passing the “Light.”
Items for Discussion
- What do you do to get ready for the holiday season? Decorations, plans, etc.
- There is typically a set up time, a teardown time. How long does it take you and how long are you “decorated” for the holiday season?
- Is there any aspect of Christmas that is visible in your home all year long?
- Christ’s birth, His Incarnation and time on earth, is a story of a special form of Light. What evidence do you see at Christmas of Christ’s Light?
- The Christmas season is filled with a propensity to be generous. Why is this behavior seasonal?
- What parts of Christ’s Light would you like to see all year long?
- Why do you think that it is harder to keep the “Light” alive when we neuter Christmas and start calling it a Holiday Season?
- If Christ is not in Christmas, what is Christmas?
- The role of Christians is to keep Christ alive all year long. What is missing in our world that would help us keep our “Candles” lit and keep on passing the “Light” on to others?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations