Advent Reflection: All I Want for Christmas…
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
When Christmas season came during my childhood, there was a breathless excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation that came with the December countdown to Christmas Day. It was a time where the air seemed to be filled with its own special aroma. Of course, all of this emotional energy culminated in receiving gifts on Christmas morning. There was nothing better than getting the special toy I wanted. Or so I thought.
Titus 2:11-14 reveals that Christ’s incarnation brings us the possibility of something with a far longer shelf life than the latest exciting product that would appear on December 25; the salvation that Christ brings is truly the possibility of a new kind of daily existence. We often think about salvation in terms of the “end game”—eternal life forever with God in the consummated kingdom. These verses reveal that while we wait for the day when God wraps up history, we have a salvation that shows us the way to a life of godliness characterized by resistance to ways of living as slaves to worldly passions that can wreak untold havoc in our lives. As verse 14 shows us, the salvation we have includes rescue from wickedness and God’s work of purification in our lives.
God’s grace to us in Christ is a gift that can sustain and transform us each day as we get closer to the day when Christ returns. Sometimes our mistakes and failures can dim our view of the magnificence of this gift, yet the amazing good news is that we not only wait for the blessed hope but also can experience it in our lives each day. What if we considered this for a holiday slogan: “Christmas: the gift that brings to us the opportunity for a fully human life.” The good news of Christ’s first advent means that we get “a second chance” each day; when we have been Christians for a while, we can look back and see that the gift of Christmas is our ongoing re-humanization as we wait for Christ’s second advent. What do I really want for Christmas? Oh, to be fully human…
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What do you wish for when Christmastime comes around? Have you ever wished for a transformed life? When you think about the gospel as good news for us, do you think about how it is good news for your present as well as your future?
PRAYER: Lord, the giver of our great gift of salvation, help us to see with greater clarity the tremendous truth and depth of the life you have brought to us in Christ. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help us to say no to the siren songs that call us to destructive paths and lead us in the way of godliness as you purify us and shape us into a people eager to do good. Thanks and praise to you, the God of true life. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Dr. Vincent Bacote is an Associate Professor of Theology and a Professor of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics at Wheaton College. He is the author of many publications including The Spirit in Public Theology: Appropriating the Legacy of Abraham Kuyper (2005). Vincent lives in the Chicago area with his family.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.