War Is Over (Sunday Before Christmas)
The Sunday Before Christmas: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love Be Yours. The War Is Over
We started lighting Advent Candles one week early. So today is your extra Christmas Message.
So you know how you can get lyrics to a song wrong? Paul Simon wrote a song entitled Kodachrome. Have you ever wondered why his momma wants to take his coat and comb away? I don’t have any newer songs to mess up because I kinda gave up on popular music.
It’s pretty easy to misunderstand the lyrics of a song. Eagles Hotel California is an example that quickly comes to mind. What is that song about? It’s about the West Coast music industry and how it traps musicians forever.
Have you ever given your own meaning to a song? In this day of re-visioning, I feel justified to add my meaning to what the songwriter could not have possibly meant.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is written and performed by John Lennon, And So This is Christmas.
So This Is Christmas John Lennon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prlf5y5iRv0
That echoing lyric “war is over, if you want it, war is over now. I know what Lennon was preaching. The original title to the song is Happy Xmas, for Lennon was not a believer. It was released in December 1971 in protest of the Viet Nam war.
But I changed it. I gave the song another meaning. The war that is over is not the Viet Nam war. The war that is over is the one between you and God, “if you want it, the war is over…now, it can be over now because of love.
The scripture reveals this war:
Colossians 1:21 (NIV)
“…you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”
If you are an enemy of your creator you are living in spiritual darkness. Blind to the dead-end way you are living. That spiritual darkness is manifesting in your life right now, look at the condition of your relationships with others. All is not well. Relationships betrayed, torn asunder, left behind, leaving you with a broken heart, with loneliness and anger. Relational unforgiveness, grudges, revenge, and all those other bad feelings wait like a volcano to explode. Death waits silently in the darkness. The answer is Christmas. The real deal Christmas, not the pagan traditions we’ve wrapped up in Christian paper.
Christmas is time for realizing the hope of friendship with God. The light of the 1st Advent Candle is the dawning of a new age when God offers reconciliation with His enemies.
The prophet foretold:
Isaiah 9:2 (MSG)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
John 8:12 (NIV)
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
The terms are simple, the terms of your surrender.
Acknowledge that your sins have made you an enemy of God that you are no living in darkness, being slowly consumed by the dark.
Believe that God in Christ provides you with an opportunity to end all hostilities between God and yourself.
Then desiring to leave the darkness behind and enter into the light, you bend the knee to God, pledging yourself a disciple of Jesus, and God forgives and makes you His ally.
Christmas is the time to remember that we no longer have to stumble along in this life, under the wrath of God, hating and being hated, abusing and being abused. There is a promise that we can walk in the light of Truth, we can walk in fellowship with God.
Come into the light.
The 2nd Candle of Advent is a call to enter into the light of inner peace and become peacemakers.
Ephesians 2:12-14 (NLT)
You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ, himself has brought peace to us.
We have our visions of world peace when humanity will make war no more when the violence of all kinds will end. This is part of the promise of Christmas Peace. There is also the promise to end an inner war. There is a war inside each of us. The Apostle Paul described it so well.
Galatians 5:17 (NLT)
[Your egoism] wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what [your egoism] desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
The candle of peace reminds us of the invitation to deal with the problem of egoism and the war it brings. Once you see this problem that your best intentions get hijacked and you end up not accomplishing what you set out to do then you need to go to your heavenly Father and repent of your egoism, that stubborn desire to have all things your way no matter how the results might affect others. Ask God to sanctify, to break the power of egoism. You do so by consecrating all that you are to His will, His way, and God will end the conflict. Then God gives you the power to defeat egoism, you will be empowered to choose and no longer can your intentions be hijacked. In this, you will discover inner peace.
When you come into the light you will be at peace within yourself and empowered to be a peacemaker for others.
Then you can fulfill the high office of peacemaker and know yourself to be an ambassador for Christ, bringing Christmas hope and peace into the streets you walk upon, into the neighborhoods you live in, the places you work at.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (MSG)
All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him,
and then called us to settle our relationships with each other.
Christmas is a reminder that God is willing to make peace with us. Christmas is a reminder to allow peace, inner peace and peace with others to fill our lives. Christmas is a reminder that we are empowered to be peacemakers.
Come into the Light
Now, look at that 3rd Candle, the candle of Joy. There is so very much that pulls us down into frustration, anger, anxiety depression and despair. The light of this candle reminds us to Rejoice that God has chosen to find the lost, to reconcile the estranged and to pardon the sinner. Jesus is your advocate, the Holy Spirit indwells. Those who live God’s way have their name written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life, the promise of life eternal.
In the light of the Candle of Joy, we remember the loved ones we lost, the times that have changed, but we do not allow those memories to trap us in the past. We can allow what is no longer to become a black hole in our soul, sucking the life from us, leaving us broken and bitter. For even though we have seen much sorrow and suffering, God gives us the power to look forward to a glorious future and live in the in the now, making new memories with loved ones, with friends and family. (Deuteronomy 31:6-8). Many circumstances of life are impossible to rejoice over, but we can rejoice in the knowledge that God has come to us, drawing us near, and making things right in us, for us, and through us. (John 1:14, Revelation 21:3)
Christmas is a time to rejoice. You might find it impossible to rejoice in the circumstance but you can rejoice in the knowledge that God, in time, sets all things right and now find the power to thrive.
Come into the Light
In the light of our 4th Advent Candle, we see God’s great love in resolving the Divine predicament of His desire to have an intimate relationship with you and the sin which has separated you and results in His wrath upon you.
Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins."
I cannot answer the how question of the virgin birth, of the incarnation. Nevertheless, the scripture reveals that God the Creator incarnates becomes a human being, and becomes known as Jesus. You know the gospel, Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become right with God. God sacrifices Himself to atone for the sins of humanity. (Philippians 2: 5-10). Love motivated all this so that you can be saved from wrath. Entering into the light of this candle you realize how greatly loved by God you are and the inconceivable lengths to draw you to Himself.
Christmas is a demonstration of how we are loved and how being loved we are to love one another. Christmas reminds us of that love and reminds us that we are to be lovers, giving away freely what we have freely received from God.
Come into the Light
One candle remains unlit. It is the Christ Candle. When lit we are reminded that God is with us.
Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
Immanuel, God with us, no longer against us. When God is with us, His presence lights our way. When God is with us, His peace, which surpasses understanding, settles into our lives. When God is with us we rejoice in knowing that He is our beloved and our beloved in ours. When God is with us we know that we are loved, and empowered to be lovers.
It is up to you to light this candle, and you light it in your heart.
You light the Christ candle by drawing near to God in faith. You see your problem no light, no peace, no joy, no love. All because you are separated from the source of light, peace, joy, and love.
Acknowledging this separation from God, that there is a great chasm between you and your Creator, you believe that God entered His creation and made atonement for your sin, building a living way to cross over from darkness into light, that you may be reconciled to Him and know His peace, His joy, His love in your life.
This great gift from God must be appropriated in faith. You must draw near. It must be your intent, your desire to use enjoy these gifts by continually walking the path of obedience, committed to being a leaner with Jesus as your teacher, a disciple of Christ, dedicated to living as a son or daughter of God. This is how the Christ Candle is lit in your heart.
Ask God for His gift of Christmas. You will find yourself strangely warmed by the flame of Christ lit within. The war is over if you want it now.
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