Links Daily Devotional

O Holy Night

On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do. (Exodus 12:16, NIV)

There is a rareness to the weekend ahead.

Christmas falls on a Sunday no more often than five years apart. Sometimes it is skipped altogether, and the lag means as many as 11 years between Sunday Christmases.

Incarnated, Jesus could enact the long-promised atoning salvation of the lost, freeing us from our enslavement to sin and all its gloomy consequences.With a Sunday Christmas comes a Saturday Christmas Eve and a Monday holiday. It is not only a long weekend, but a long weekend of spiritual emphasis. It is the closest we may come to the sacred assemblies of the Jewish people, instituted by the God who ordained laws for his people and showed his love for them people through these laws.

That hardly seems right, not in our cultures of freedom—that a law, any law, would bear the lawgiver’s love. And yet, there it was: by the way of restrictions and ordinances, God unveiled practices and purposes that would maintain order among the people and point the way to holiness for each individual. Indeed, there were laws for health, for community safety, for justice, for provision for the poor, for rest, for feasting, and for celebration. Don’t let anyone ever tell you the Old Testament Law was a catalogue of don’ts. It had a few, but it guided the Jews in so many formative ways.

So let us cling to our traditions in the long weekend to come. Let us recognize in them both restraint and release.

These are the things God exercised himself when he sent his Son to be born in the poorest of human conditions. Incarnated, Jesus could not display the infinite spiritual bearing of God; he was bound in the form of man. But incarnated, Jesus could enact the long-promised atoning salvation of the lost, freeing us from our enslavement to sin and all its gloomy consequences.

We sing of one holy night each Christmas, referring with the word pictures of the hymnist to the night when Christ was born, the shepherds were both dumbstruck and energized by the angels, and Mary began to ponder this son of hers in her heart. It was an amazing night indeed. But this year we have been given more time than this, time to ponder for ourselves and treasure up the things of God. Take this time, all off it if it you must, to really see Jesus for who he is. In the thrill of hope who is our true Savior, may your weary soul rejoice!

Jeff Hopper
December 23, 2016
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