Dear Alabama-West Florida family,
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'"
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."
The Advent Season creates an awareness of "waiting" for many things - the gathering of close friends and family; worship services; the sharing of joy and love through carefully selected gifts; and the Second Coming of Christ. For those who continue our everyday habits with little thought to how God is about to intervene in our world, we might reflect on the days of Noah.
Advent is not simply a time to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth, it is also a reminder that we await the long anticipated return of Christ fulfilling our daily prayer that God's Kingdom will come just as it is in heaven. Perhaps it would indeed reflect the very presence of this Kingdom if we were to act just as if we were already in the Presence of God!
My son, Paul, has been sharing some thoughts with me during the Advent season that he sent to his own congregation. During this exchange he related a news article regarding a "mysterious blast of light." I believe his insights, which follow, are worth sharing.
Last week, while reading the news, I came across an article about a mysterious blast of light in the sky that can be seen near the constellation Leo. The website, star.com, wrote an article on the light, whose headline read, “Brightest Explosion In the Universe Ever Seen Defies Astronomy Theories.”
How appropriate for this bright light to appear in the sky at this time of year. Not unlike some 2000 years ago when the Magi saw something very similar. When the Magi saw the star, they set out from their country to travel from the east to worship the King of the Jews. Their journey took them to Bethlehem, where they met and worshiped Jesus, the Christ Child.
This being the first week of Advent, my thoughts continue to revolve around the journey of the Magi to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Their journey involved preparation. How did the Magi prepare their hearts and minds for the arrival of the Christ Child? How do I do the same?
My hope for this Advent season is that I prepare in a way to see the glory and power of Christ in a new light. A light that may only be described as the “Brightest In the Universe.”
My thanks to Paul and all who remind me that the power of Christ is indeed the "Brightest in the Universe!"
Merry Christmas. May God's Kingdom come just as it is in heaven.
Paul L. Leeland
Resident Bishop, Alabama-West Florida Conference