Anglican Morning Devotion for 16 November 2021 Anno Domini
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:14-15; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The above text is not only an admonition of the Lord, but a prophecy of future promise. From the days of Eden, the world of sin and the world of righteousness have been at direct odds. The cycles have alternated up until today when the world of sin is more dominate than perhaps those days before Noah. It is during such low tides that the Lord moves in His perfect knowledge to bring calm to the seas of unrest. When the evil is egregious, He has destroyed all living from the face of the earth save eight souls and those other living creatures aboard the Ark of Noah. At other times, the Lord has chosen to use hard bondage that is subject to His will to accomplish the awakening of His people. The Creator of the Natural Law is also the Sovereign thereof so that the rains, storms, draught, and all seasonal all submit to His counsel.
We are on the verge of a new season of the Church calendar – that of ADVENT. In the Reformation Church of England, the Season of Advent follows TRINITY Season and precedes the twelve days of Christmas Season. So, technically today, Advent is the beginning of the Church Year. It was not always so since in the early Church, the Calendar began with Easter, and still does in the Eastern Church. This ancient observance closely coincides with the Hebrew Calendar whose religious year begins on Nisan 1, very close to the Spring equinox. I actually believe this date to be more meaningful as a new year date for us since it symbolizes new life and beginnings.
The term, ADVENT, actually means ‘coming’ or ‘appearing.’ So, during the ADVENT Season the Church is anticipating the Coming of Christ – the coming of a Redeemer promised to Abraham; His actual, bodily coming at Christmas; and, finally, His sudden appearing at His Coming in Clouds of Glory to judge the world at the last Trump.
To be absolutely accurate, The Lord Jesus Christ has ALWAYS been coming from before the foundation of the world until today and beyond. (see John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; & 1Peter 1:20) “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)
But His first visible coming at Christmas is profoundly real and meaningful to us; and so will be His second Coming when the curtain of time falls.
The Church reverently considers the depth of meaning represented by the coming to earth of the King of Glory, abandoning His opulent palaces on High, and being born in a stable. As a baby, He was laid in manger constructed from a tree. On His death, His death bier would again be made of the wood from a tree – “and He loved us until the last.” Almost imperceptible to the Mother of Jesus was that dim shadow that fell across her baby’s forehead – the shadow that would take on physical properties of a wooden cross at the last. Mary forever feared for Jesus. He constantly seemed to provoke the anger of the Jewish rulers and religious leaders. She most often did not attend to His preaching, but would stand apart and call Him out. She did not realize fully His cause and purpose until she stood beneath that dreadful cross at Golgotha. It was then that a sword pierced her side. “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:32-35)
The thoughts of many hearts are revealed by the very Spirit of Christmas . . . of the Lord’s Coming. Little did Mary fully grasp the meaning of this special child given her by miraculous intercession – the only Begotten Son of God. How could she have grasped the import of the occasion being a young lass and a virgin. All the days of His ministry, Mary wondered after all that He did in placing Himself in jeopardy of the jealous religious & secular leadership. But standing at the foot of the cross, all doubts were resolved as Mary remembered the events leading up to her Child’s birth thirty-three years prior. She remembered the manger at Bethlehem, the visitation of the Magi, the sojourn in Egypt, His relentless preaching filled with miracles, and now this cruel cross. As the spear breeched His side, the sword pierced Mary’s heart and opened it to fuller understanding to be consummated at the Open Garden Tomb some three days hence. Sometimes, it takes the sword to open our hearts.