Monday, December 8, 2008

Signs and Wonders

"When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near." Luke 21:28

One of the real delights of living in this town is that most everyone here takes decorating their house very seriously. Particularly at Christmas, but at other holiday times as well, the houses will be lit up and yards full of bright seasonal decorations. One man, who lives a few blocks up on our street, decorates every inch of lawn and roof for Christmas, and dresses up as Santa, greeting the children and waving at the cars that drive by. This goes on every night, the two weeks before Christmas, and he has candy canes for children and biscuits for dogs who look in awe and wonder, along with their owners. Something happens to people in this season, especially when encountering a display such as this. They are somehow transfixed and for a brief moment become like a child.

The lawn decorations which I don't understand at all are the ones which are basically inflated large balloons. They have motors that keep them constantly inflated. But at night, around here, because most people turn off the motors at bedtime, lawns are then littered with deflated santas, creche scenes, floppy snowmen and reindeer. I am glad I am not a child in this age, for the image would have terrified me when I was young. Right now, it still creeps me out quite a bit. The signs and wonders are all about us, and even those signs which are positive in nature, can be misunderstood by the beholder.

Jesus warns the disciples about all the signs that will signal the end of the age. But what he wants them to know is that, even if they read the signs correctly at all times, their job is to look up and expect their redemption. He does not instruct us to draw a sword or design a winning political campaign. Jesus asks us to stand up and lift up our heads - the signs of a confident and secure person. He asks us to be confident in our salvation. My mother has often remarked to me, "You know you are getting close to God when the devil is working over time." Now whether I agree with her theology or not, the statement is eerily true in the life of faith. Often, when we are truly following God, our popularity in the church decreases and challenges in our lives are on the increase. And even then, we cannot know for sure what all the signs and circumstances mean. Yet we can stand up still, look up and know that God is in the midst of it all, acting for us at all times.

For today, I want to be humble enough to rejoice in the challenges set before me, as well as the blessings I have received. I want to spent today looking up, counting on my salvation, and not letting small challenges diminish my faith. We all lose heart from time to time. But God is still in the midst of us. God is great even when we feel small. May we all have the strength this day to stand and look up. God is coming, God is here. Emmanuel, God with us, has arrived, and is arriving and will arrive again for the salvation and healing of the world.

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