When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law. (Galatians 4:4)
There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTknk-jxc2k&feature=related (Joy to the World arr. Whitney Houston)
(Below- "Worship of the Shepherds" by Angelo Bronzino d. 1572)
Thoughts: Christmas is finally here- a day of peace, hope and love- and rest. Rest from shopping, rest from the rush. It's all done. Rest- even from the cell phone going off all the time. Most things are closed today. So I invite you to stop and listen. If you're not hightailing it from one grandma to another... listen. Most stores are closed. Most are with their family, or are missing being with family. Walmart is even closed. Military maneuvers are limited to the bare necessities. The malls went from being packed, angry places with huge lines to... hush. It used to be like this all over America every Sunday- once a week. Now Christmas is the last Sabbath. When you listen to songs about Christmas you get it- Silent night (Stille Nacht)- all is calm; The Little Town of Bethlehem is... still;
In the last twenty years, in the name of secularism we have eliminated our laws regarding the corporate Sabbath from our books. This was the second major step of secularization after the eliminating of prayer from schools. Sunday in America is just like any other day- a busy day. Rascal Flats said, "Sunday was a day of rest- now it is one more day for progress." It is not considered "the Lord's Day" (Rev. 1:10) but our day- to shop, or make money- or whatever.
Someone asked, "Can't we keep Christmas all year long?" Keeping a Sabbath is a way to do just that. Since we have eliminated Sabbath laws, what has happened? Has our family situation improved? Today the institution of marriage is in such shambles that for the first time in our history more are choosing to live together without getting married than choosing to marry. We have become slaves to our work mostly because of rampant consumerism and debt (I owe, I owe so oft to work I go). The Sabbath was given to help us remember we are not slaves to our work or to things (Dt. 5:15). Our debt has skyrocketed, and the government seems to want to go to more debt to get us out of debt. Many will be in a Christmas regret mode in about two weeks when the credit card bills come. A study by Depaul & Ben Gurion Universities published 9/10 noted 3 changes in areas that eliminate the Sabbath laws: 1) church attendance decreases; 2) drug and alcohol abuse increase; 3) Unhappiness among women increases (17%). A Sabbath is a way to restrain our lust for things and help us to focus on God, family, and merciful/helpful things. The shepherds left their sheep for a moment, perhaps our sheep will be okay in God's hands. Keeping a Sabbath is a sign of faith and trust in God.
Galatians 4:4 says. "When the time had fully come." Jesus not only intersected our space, He also intersected our time. Christmas is a day of peace and rest because the Prince of Peace comes. Listen to the peace of Christmas today- but more importantly rejoice that the Prince of Peace has come! This is truly Joy to the World!
Prayer: Thank you Lord, for a day to catch our breath, renew friendships with family and old friends. Thank you that you give us rest and peace within.
John Calvin abridged: We do not need to speculate why God did not send His Son sooner. The Son who was sent, must have existed before He was sent. He was made under a woman- that is, he assumed our nature. The Son who could have claimed every kind of exemption from the Law became subject to it in order to free us from it. This does not mean we may do whatever we please- for the law is the everlasting rule of a good and holy life. Yet we are free from the rigor of the Law.