The whisper that begins Christmas

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:1‬

And so begins the Christmas story, catapulted without context into watching as two young Israelites travel to Bethlehem. Cue the shepherds, angels, and wise men and suddenly a baby lying in a manger. 

Normally my spirit can be found standing in awe of this Light of Heaven. This season however, I’ve found myself wrestling a bit more with what lies before Luke 2. 

The years that are so neatly summarized “In those days.” Those days were a time of darkness and stillness that lasted 400 years. No prophets, no Word from God, no new sermons, just darkness that has blinded much of the World to the Messiah’s arrival. 
In those days is a very uncomfortable place. Desert places where there are no Angels singing “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Where the world seems cold and dark. Where God himself seems distant and heaven is closed. 
Those are not places that inspire hymns or revival sermons but they are very much a part of our journey.
I wonder what it would have been like to be a follower of YHWH in those 400 years. I imagine them to marked by dwindling services with waning devotion. Where the culture of following YHWH seems to be all but lost. Just a remnant holding to distant Hope.

Prayers seem trite, devotions become an act of habit rather than actual discipleship, and fears and doubt continually dampen the fire of the Spirit. Where faith is a bit more than a flicker

Then a whisper. 

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:25-26‬ 

God whispers to Simeon.

The Messiah is coming soon and you will see him. 

To be told in the midst of 400 years of silence that the Messiah, the rescuer, is coming seems ridiculous. How does Simeon even process this? It seems too good to be true. And then…

I can feel Simeon’s heart explode as he watches Mary and Joseph enter the temple. The tears on his face as he takes Jesus in his hands. 

“for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:30-32‬ ‭

My spiritual imagination has him wanting to shout these words as he holds up the Messiah in a Lion King Simba pose.

A declaration of salvation and victory for all people!!! Behold the Messiah.
This whispered promise to Simeon that surely happened a few years before Luke 2 is, for me, the beginning of Christmas. 

The whisper that says,

darkness does not win

silence does not last

the distance of God is going to be forever shattered in one word.

God with us.

And that my friends makes Christmas and the miracle of it that much more awe inspiring.

Pardon me while I go stand in the awe of the light because I remember the dark.

Merry Christmas.