Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Message: The need for a sense of urgency.

14 dead. 8 women, 5 men and a child. In one single road crash. What a tragedy! That's what happened in the hills of a rural parish in my country this week. And so the entire nation is in mourning. Everyone, related or not, has felt the pain of this awful loss of human life. All of us, especially those with special responsibility in this area, including the Prime Minister, have been moved with a special sense of urgency, that this should never happen again. In a sense, the same feeling pervades the nation in respect of murder - 0ver 1500 for the year already - but which sense of urgency to stop the madness, has been dulled by the chronic nature of the problem, as it has been happening for years.
This same sense of urgency, has been the hallmark, thus far, of the Obama administration, as he has moved swiftly to appoint key members of his cabinet in an effort to calm the fears of big business and small savers, nationally and internationally. And many leaders across the world, including my own country, are similarly seized with this sense of urgency to deal with the fallout from the worldwide financial meltdown. On the social front, many nations are dealing urgently with the consequences of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS infestations, road traffic injuries, teenage pregnancies and a whole host of issues which profoundly affect the quality of human existence on this globe.
In parts of the world, all of the above, even for a short while, take a backseat as we celebrate Christmas with family and friends; sorrel and rice and peas; grandmarket night; special outfits for the season; many Christmas parties; church services; the exchange of gifts; the eating of Christmas pudding; the trips back home. Until the New Years day when the cycle begins all over again.
And the Lord, who is always ahead of us, used the events of this week, which triggered this reflection on the need to cultivate a sense of urgency, to speak clearly about His sense of urgency. The story began with King David writing in the Psalm appointed for this Sunday.

" He swore an oath to the Lord
and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob;
I will not enter my house or go to my bed---
I will allow no sleep to my eyes,
no slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the Lord".
Psalm 132: 2-4. NIV

David's priority was to bring honor to the Lord by erecting a house for the Lord to dwell in.
And when the Lord answered David in 2 Samuel 7, and issued a promise that he would " raise up your offspring to succeed you" and that such an child would have a kingdom for ever, there is a hint of the coming of God's Son Jesus - " whose kingdom would reign forever".
The story about the sense of urgency continued with the encounter of Mary with the angel Gabriel where she was told that: " The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" . One of the most profound questions ever posed by man to God is found in an extended reading of David's desire to build a house for the Lord. After the Lord had promised David that his family would be given such a signal honor, David's answer/proclamation was : " Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord?"
2 Samuel 7:19
We could ask the same question about God taking on human flesh, and being born by the power of the Holy Spirit to a simple virgin girl in Nazareth. " Is this your usual way of dealing with man O Sovereign Lord? No, but the lesson from the Cross of Calvary, is that all of mankind was in danger of perishing. There was therefore a sense of urgency, and the priority of God, out of an abundance of love, was and continues to be perishing man, sick man, and man suffering from injustice. Why? All , every single one of us, " have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". And since God has declared that "the wages of sin is death", God sent His Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
So in the fullness of time Jesus was sent on that first Christmas to heal the sick, rescue the perishing and set the captives free - from teenage pregnancy, from drug abuse, from HIV/AIDS infection, road traffic injuries, murder, greed, and ultimately sin and death.
So if Christ came at Christmas over two thousand years ago, with a sense and message of urgency " Be ye reconciled to God", why are we His disciples, not filled with the same sense of urgency? Why are we, focusing primarily on the "gifts" of Christmas and not the GIFT of the Son of God - Jesus Christ? Why aren't we responding to St Paul's injunction to " Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"? Why don't we have the same attitude of Christ to be obedient, even to death on the Cross.
The Lord led me this week to reflect on two hymns which we sing in church regularly, to find answers. As unless we are seized with the same mind of the hymn writer and invite Jesus into our hearts on a regular basis, and to appreciate that such an invitation will lead us to share in the suffering of Christ, then we will have neither the sense of urgency nor the power to set the captives free - but will always be relegated to analysing and pontificating and even moved to tears, about the many problems that confront our people.

1.Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
When thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
For thy holy Nativity:

O come to my heart Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for the thee.......

4.Thou camest O Lord, with the living word
That should set thy people free
But with mocking scorn and with a crown of thorn
They bore thee to Calvary

O come to my heart Lord Jesus
There is room in my heart for thee

I am thine O Lord, I have heard thy voice
And it told thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord
To the cross where Thou has died
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord
To thy precious bleeding side

Consecrate me now thy service Lord,
By the power of love divine
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope
And my will be lost in Thine


O the pure delight of a single hour
That before thy throne I spend
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee my God
I commune as friend to friend.......


O Blessed God that your people would be moved to brood on the cross constantly,
as without a desire to share in its sorrows and pain, Christianity has no power
to move with a sense of urgency. O God that we would be moved to spend quality time in prayer. O God that we would be moved to invite your Son this Christmas to come into our hearts.

Into my heart. Into my heart. Come into my heart Lord Jesus.
Come into today, come in to stay. Come int0 my heart Lord Jesus..
as our body, the entire Christian church, is now the temple of God.
So David's desire to establish the temple of God has found fulfillment
in the body of Christ - the professing authentic church. And it is through this body, imperfect as it is, that God continues to rescue mankind, once we are repentant,obedient and filled with a deep longing for God's honor, and for the rescuing of our neighbour. That's the real Christmas message. Not the one on CNN or RJR or Nationwide

Merry Christmas to you all, and may the Holy Spirit come upon us, and may the power of the Most High overshadow us, as we seek to respond, in and through Christ Jesus, to the sufferings of humankind with a strong sense of urgency and with power.