People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.'
Then he told them a parable: 'Look at the fig tree and all the trees;
as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near.
So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.'"
- Luke 21:25-31 (NRSV)
Jesus said to be on watch for the signs of the times, because when the signs are "just right", miraculous things will happen.
In Luke 21, he is primarily talking about that glorious Day when he returns to fulfill God's Promise to reconcile all creation to heaven.
But while we wait (sometimes rather impatiently) for the blessed return of Our Lord, we can also look for other signs marking other times, other miraculous seasons, other incredible opportunities to praise Almighty God and to reach out to others.
This is why I don't condemn the commercialization of Christmas, as many do; on the contrary, I revel in it.
Why? Because the signs are all around us! Trees, lights, bows, candles, greens, snow...and the wonderful music! The world is reminded during this time that we are about to commemorate one of history's greatest events, as God became incarnate in human flesh in a grand effort to save the world! (Why we evangelicals don't make a bigger deal out of the date of Jesus' conception is beyond me...so, Christmas it is.)
Because the culture has decided to commercialize Christmas, we are given a great opportunity to share the gospel. Everywhere people look they are faced with the nativity scene...they are reminded in song of the miraculous birth from the womb of a maiden...they must deal with the beautifully powerful message of the greatest and most profound of all Christmas carols, "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing".
So, bring on the bright lights, the cookies, the candy, the presents, the reindeer, and the cocoa by the fire! For at least one more season, the world is faced with an opportunity to meet Jesus in his most vulnerable state - that of a newborn infant - and is given one more opportunity to consider (or ignore) the kenotic miracle of God's love!
First posted 11/30/06.