“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.”
It is a strange blessing – the only one of its kind, best I can tell. It is how the Book of Revelation begins.
John knew and understood that the human condition was not still perfect. People lived in persecution. Chaos abounded. He was providing an antidote to this, by allowing for the possibility that God’s kingdom has not come to complete fulfillment yet. There is a better time around the corner.
This is an incredibly important message of hope to hear at this time of year. Christmastide can often be filled with gloom for many. From bills that pile up, to family stresses, it can also be a time that evokes difficult memories. I never understood the extent of these kinds of stresses until I heard the confessions of congregants – and how Christmas for them meant a time to go visit extended relatives, like the uncle who abused them in their youth, or reconnecting with a parent who was a raging alcoholic. It was anything but pleasant memories.
Part of the message of the Incarnation is one of hope, of new birth, of God in our midst. It is a message of “turning the page” and knowing that God stands with us through dark times.
May the light of the Christmas season break forth for you today. And may you rest in the hope of the Word Made Flesh, who comes to give all new birth.
A Merry Christmas to you all!