Archive for December 24th, 2009

Dear friends and readers of Prophets, Priests, and Poets.info,

We have had a tradition for the last couple of holidays of posting a joint post featuring reflections from several of the writers of our little blog. We are keeping up with that tradition again with this post which features reflections on Revelation 12.

The world has changed a lot in the last year and much has remained the same. The election of the first black president, debates about health care, ongoing revelations and debates about ‘global warming’, continuing conflicts in the Middle East, and the deaths  of some of the world’s best known celebrities have all contributed positively and negatively to the world we inhabit now. (I’m thinking of Patrick Swayze, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and David Carradine. Maybe Brittany Murphy.) I’m sure there’s more, but as it is, here we are.

The book of the apocalypse describes itself at the beginning as ‘the apocalypse of Jesus Christ.’ Now this could mean one or two things. It could mean that it is the apocalypse of Jesus Christ–meaning that we are about to learn something about Jesus. Or it could mean that it is the apocalypse from Jesus Christ–meaning that we are about to hear from Jesus Christ. There is probably truth to both ideas, so I do not want to limit your imagination, but keep this in mind as you read through the book and the particular chapter we are focusing on in this year’s collective Christmas post.We are going to learn from and hear about Jesus in this book. He has something to say to us; we have something to see of him.

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”

When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. (Revelation 12:1-13:1)

Neil:

Revelation 12 is not unlike other sections of the apocalypse in that the various elements have been taken to mean various things. The characters include a pregnant woman, a child, a dragon, a wilderness, and others. and depending on the perspective the woman has been interpreted as Israel… or maybe the church… or maybe the true remnant of believers of Israel… or even Mary. the of the child seems more obvious, but even here there are varying interpretations.
one thing is for sure – like so many passages in revelation this one does not fail to befuddle.
yet – amongst the imagery and (dare I say it) weirdness of a pregnant woman and a hungry dragon we see two very distinct, two very clear truths.

(v. 1) A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven… (v. 10b) …now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our god, and the authority of his Christ.

Tonight and tomorrow we remember and celebrate these facts. we remember how a great and wondrous sign appeared to a bunch of shepherd in Palestine several thousand years ago. and we remember and celebrate the coming of salvation and the power and the kingdom…

For each who read this I hope that these facts are as true for you personally as they are true for our world in general. just as salvation and power and kingdom have come to earth; let us each take time to remember the wondrousness of how the same has come to each of us.

Merry advent, merry incarnation, merry salvation and power and kingdom… to all of you.
- Neil

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Every year my mom writes a Christmas poem that she and my dad use as their Christmas wishes.  Below is this year’s poem.

She has also written a book of 25 Christmas poems and family devotionals available here.

May you all be blessed by the words and wisdom of the most amazing mother a girl could have! ;)

Pageant practice starts today.
Children’s hands wave in the air,
“Pick me! Pick me! Pick me,” they say.
The teacher is choosing the cast for the show.
I’m waving my hand there in the front row.

Pick me to be Mary!
Her part is the best!
I can sit on the donkey. I won’t even fall.
I’d remember my lines and hold on to the doll.

But the part goes to Mindy, I’m short and she’s tall.

Well If I can’t be Mary, then maybe I’ll be
an angel who stands on the riser and sings -
a beautiful angel with halo and wings.

Pick me! I’m an angel!
Pick me to be her!
I’d sing hallelujah, and say “Lo” and “Behold”
with my lacy white wings and my halo of gold.

But the part goes to Linda, I don’t fit the mold.

Ok, if I can’t be an angel, I know what I’ll be -
a wiseman dressed up in a crown like a king,
wearing long purple robes and a bright golden ring.

Pick me! I’m a wiseman.
Pick me, I can be
a beautiful wiseman. I’d sure fill that spot.
I can walk with my head high – Oh, no. I forgot.

The part goes to John. He’s a boy and I’m not.

Joseph and the innkeeper, the parts are so few.
The teacher has chosen – the boys get those too.
Now I’m so sad that the parts are all gone.
Oh, except for the shepherds – they need more than one.

I could be a shepherd, but you know that I’ve heard,
they just stand around and they don’t say a word.

Well, they do see the Christ child and then they bow down,
but they look kind of grubby in their old robes of brown.

It doesn’t sound great a shepherd to be — But last year I ended up being a tree.

So now. . ..
I stop to think of shepherds in the hills of Bethlehem,
and how they felt afraid when the angels came to them.

I think about the part they played when Jesus came to earth.
You know shepherds were the first to hear the news of Jesus birth,
the first to worship at his crib,
the first to bow and pray,
the first to celebrate the fact that he was born that day.

Well, even though they don’t wear halos,
and they don’t have golden wings
and even though it seems they don’t have special songs to sing,
and even though they look a little tattered, it’s alright.
‘cause the shepherds had a very special part
to play that night.

So I raise my hand again and cry, “Teacher, please pick me!
A grubby shepherd girl
is what I truly want to be!”

The teacher smiled and said she’d always hoped that I would see
that a humble shepherd girl is someone I should want to be -
that child who ran to see the babe and bowed there in the stall
with eyes for Him and not herself, and a heart of love – that’s all.

May we see the Christ Child rather than ourselves this Christmas,

and like the little girl in the poem may we realize that
we don’t need to be the star of the show for God to give us a special job to do.

© Diane Gruchow 2009

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