O PreacherChristmas morning.  Lois in the kitchen preparing for children and grandchildren coming later.  A few quiet moments for me to pray and ponder.  Reminiscing about long-ago Christmases when our son and two daughters were children.  A familiar reminder to you who have young children:  enjoy them this Christmas season.  They will soon celebrate in their own homes with their own little ones.

For some reason, woke this morning with these fascinating words from the apostle Paul . . .

The night is far gone; the day is at hand.
(Romans 13:12a)

It’s his reason for urging us to live morally upright lives as Jesus’ followers . . .

. . . you know that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.
The night is far gone; the day is at hand.
So then let us cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light.
(Romans 13:11,12)

I’m not thinking of Paul’s exhortation as much as the far-gone night and at-hand day.

I tend to see this world as “day.”  What lies out there in the future, even though Jesus promises glory beyond comprehension, seems “night” both because (unless Jesus comes first) I have to pass through the “night” of death and the future beyond death is unfamiliar territory.  But here Paul writes of life in this world as “night” and the future in the world to come as “day.”

It reminds me of Christmas morning when my brother and I were kids.  How hard to fall asleep the night before!  Too excited!  Too much anticipating what would be under the tree!  (Our parents never put our presents out until we were safely in bed.)  Struggling to sleep made Christmas Eve the year’s longest night.

But then the night was over!  I opened my eyes in record time (not like on school days).  I think my brother and I had it in our genes to naturally be as noisy as possible to wake up Dad and Mom.  Finally they rolled out, warning us to wait in our rooms until they made sure everything was ready, turned the tree lights on, and called us.  “Okay, kids.  Al.  Glenn.  Come on.”  Down the hallway we hustled toward the living room and the thrill of Christmas morning around the tree half-hidden behind piles of presents.

This world—the world where we live, the world we know, the only world we know—is “night.”  It’s filled, as Paul writes here in Romans, with “orgies and drunkenness”, with “sexual immorality and sensuality,” with “quarreling and jealousy.”  It’s also marked by disappointment and dissatisfaction and disability and death.  It never delivers on its promises.  Its “toys” always break down or wear out.  Oh, there’s goodness and joy to be sure.  After all, despite sin’s ravages, this is still my Father’s world.  But the evil one and our fallen natures corrupt and darken even the best of what God has made.

It is night.  But it’s “far gone”!  The day is at hand!  Christmas morning like none other is about to break into this darkness.  Jesus, born that first Christmas day, is coming again.  He who is the Light of the world will split the night with his glory.  He will call us:  “Okay, children.”  He’ll call us by name.  “Allan, Glenn, come.”  And we will rise with pounding hearts and wide-eyed looks and breathless hearts at the thrill of this “Christmas morning”  around the One who gave his life for us and comes now to gather us home to a world where it will never be night.

That day is at hand! 

Merry Christmas!

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