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Breaking the silence – the meaning of Christmas!

December 23, 2011 No Comment

Christmas greetings from the East District president

President Paul Zabel

by Paul Zabel

It is Christmas 2011, and we are facing some of the most uncertain circumstances in generations. Some would dare ask, “Where is God in all this? Does He really care?”

We are not the only ones who have had hard times. Perhaps the saddest period in the nation of Israel’s history was during the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew. It was truly a time of darkness for the people of God. God had promised He would come again. But where was He?

In Malachi, chapter 4, God promised to send Elijah to Israel. He said: “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5). And in the Gospel of Luke we are told the angel Gabriel came to Zechariah to tell him of a son who would be born to him and his wife, Elizabeth. This son would be the one who would fulfill the prophecy recorded in Malachi. He would not be Elijah, but would be in the “spirit of Elijah.”

Jesus confirmed this, when He said: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet, the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come” (Matt.11:11-14).

Amazing! Nothing for 400 years—now, 400 years later, God breaks His silence. He speaks of the one who was to come in the “spirit of Elijah.” When Zechariah heard the words from the angel Gabriel, he did not believe. So he was left unable to speak until John was born. Then when John was born (whom Zechariah then knew and believed to be the prelude to God’s fulfilling His promise to send the Saviour) he could speak again and responded saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people” (Luke 1:68).

What does this mean? It means God looked upon Israel with mercy, favour, and with eagerness to help them. This is the message Christmas brings to us too: God is eager to help us in the calamity around us.

What is going on in your life? Do you realize God cares for you? Why would God show us such mercy? Because He has a purpose for each of us. Zachariah tells us it is God’s plan “to deliver us from the hand of our enemies, that we might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before all of our days.” (Luke 1:74-75).

What is our world like? We have a Saviour. He has come to free us from the bondage we have to ourselves. He has come that we might walk in His ways. He has come to bless us. In the midst of all the confusion, all the chaos, God has sent His Son.

Christmas shows us God’s compassion, His salvation, His faithfulness to His promises, and the marvelous purpose He has for us, His people. Blessed indeed is His name!


Rev. Paul Zabel is President of the East District of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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