Praying for a missionary friend in Africa to have safety out of South Sudan and for some workers in Central Asia to continue to have open doors for the gospel, my heart burst with hope yesterday morning when the kids and I huddled around our daily Advent reading. (For weeks now we’ve been having picnic breakfasts on the floor circling the vent in our living room. For some reason the dining room table – just a few feet away – seems so cold and the chairs so far apart. And we need to be close. We need to bond in the warmth of together before we have to go our separate ways out in the bitterness of the frigid world.)
Jesus, “a light for the Gentiles.” (Luke 2:32) The Holy Spirit gave Simeon just what Jesus’ parents needed to hear that day. I know the proud parent look. But their look wasn’t tinged with all the bias a mother boasts. Their eyes were opened to see beyond the world they knew so well. Theirs was a penitent gaze of worshipful awe hearing again who their Son was and what he would one day do. This child, in the Jewish temple, already fulfilling all righteousness according to the Law of Moses, would reach far outside the bounds of Israel with his ministry. As a matter of fact, his light of hope would shine so brightly, all nations would see it.
And I marveled again that Christmas is all about the success of missions. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, under the law, to redeem those under the law, he was making a way for the Gentiles to glorify God for his mercy.
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”
And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” (Romans 15:9-12)
So, this Christmas, dear exhausted, fearful, lonely, sorrowful, homesick, missionary friends, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
Hallelujah! Light Has Come!