Christmas Eve – The Christ Candle

Genesis 2:4-17, John 1:1-18, Revelation 22

The biblical story of God’s love and desire for restoration with creation is woven throughout the biblical narrative, from Genesis to Revelation, through the promise of the Messiah. In this promise we are reminded of God’s immeasurable love for us. As we remember the faithfulness of God through the fulfillment of this promise in Jesus, we look forward, anticipating when the restoration that began with the birth of Jesus is made complete with his return. We are invited in this moment to find hope in the midst of waiting, joy in spite of fraught circumstances, peace that transcends our present reality, extending God’s love to others. This redemptive work of God is most evident when we look at the creation story side by side with the last chapter of Revelation. 

In Genesis 2 we see the second account of creation, one that emphasizes the creation of humanity within the natural world. We see through Adam, that humanity was created to be in complete, unmarred relationship with God, each other and nature. Yet, there is foreshadowing of the break to come in the relationship when God tells Adam that he is not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This separation that came as a result of humans defying God by trying to be God, severed the intended relationship between God, humanity, and nature.

Yet God’s love for humanity was so vast that a Messiah was promised, one who would bring wholeness and redemption to the broken relationship. John 1 echoes the creation story as he proclaims that the long awaited Messiah has come as promised. The Messiah is not simply a person sent by God to redeem humanity, but is the very Word of God, God made flesh to be a light in the darkness. Jesus, Immanuel, came to remove the barrier between God and humanity created by sin to live among his people.

Finally, in Revelation 22 we glimpse the vision of the final restoration of God to all of creation. Using language that echoes Genesis 2, we see Eden restored to its full beauty. Once again we are told of the tree of life whose purpose is to bring healing to the nations. The reconciliation between God and creation is now complete. The intended relationship has been restored. No longer does anything separate God from creation as Jesus reigns in the midst of creation. God’s people who were created to join, side by side, in the work of the kingdom now reign over creation together alongside Jesus. 

For many of us this Christmas we are celebrating with heavier hearts than in other years. Yet, we choose joy. We choose hope. We choose peace. We choose to celebrate with a posture of anticipation, echoing Israel’s expectation of the coming Messiah. We remember the first coming of Christ, as not just a baby, but the very Word of God made flesh. As we light this last candle we acknowledge Jesus as the light of this dark world. 

As we sit in this time of waiting, we look back at the faithfulness of God’s love throughout the biblical narrative and because of this we choose to trust God, looking toward the future with hope and anticipation for the redemptive work of Jesus to be made complete. We marvel at this glimpse of the future when all of creation is restored and Jesus, in the fullness of God, dwells with us forever. We place our hope in the promise of Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, and with the angel declare that “these words are trustworthy and true.” We believe that what has been promised will come to pass. We look forward to the return of Immanuel, God with us, Word made flesh. Even as we wait, we echo John and emphatically proclaim “Come, Lord Jesus.” 

Reflection:

What does choosing hope, joy, peace and love mean to you within the context of the biblical narrative?

How does waiting for the coming of God’s kingdom translate into your everyday life?

What does it look like to anticipate the return of Christ?

Action:

This Christmas Day make a list of a few ways having a posture of anticipation can enhance your Christmas celebrations.

Prayer:

Father, Son, and Spirit, on this Christmas Day I celebrate the birth of Jesus with a sense of anticipation, knowing we are still in the middle of your story of redemption. I pray expectantly for Jesus’ return. Help me to continue learning how to live in the present, while keeping my eyes fixed on the future hope I have in your return. I am thankful for the beautiful picture you have given to those you love of a future restoration of relationship with you. Thank you for the hope, joy, peace I have in this promise of healing, when there will no longer be sorrow or pain. When you will dwell among us forever; when division, oppression, and injustice are no more. May I continue learning how to wait well, knowing you are present in this waiting. Thank you for bringing your light into our darkness. Come Lord, Jesus. Amen.

Light the Hope, Joy, Love, Peace and Christ candles.