This week we acknowledge two big milestones for our church family.
First, we finish our 2020 Southwest Bible Project! If you have followed along all year, you have followed the epic story of God as He tells it all the way through the Bible in our reading schedule, you have watched dozens of powerful videos that visually illustrate each book of the Bible and show where each book fits in God's story, and you have listened (or watched) each week through our sermons as we model for you how to read the Bible in a way that points us to life in and like Jesus Christ. So, this last week you finished reading the book of Revelation, and today will be the last time I preach from your previous week's reading.
Second, we acknowledge the birth of Christ. Each year at Christmas, we take the opportunity to remember and celebrate what is known as the Incarnation of God. Incarnation is the fancy word for "in the flesh", and we as Christians believe in the Christmas name of Jesus - Immanuel - which means "God with us". It is an idea full of glory and good and joy: that God loves us so much that He became one of us in order to save us.
So, today, how do I teach in a way that honors both Revelation and the birth of Jesus?
Whenever we think of the Christmas story, we naturally go to the beginning of two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, which are the only gospels that tell us about the birth narrative. But did you know there is one more book in the Bible that depicts the birth narrative? Do you know which one it is?
You guessed it: Revelation. It is found in chapter 12. But you have never seen this account of the birth of Jesus depicted on a Hallmark card. It would have a dragon, and a cosmic woman standing on the moon with a crown of stars shining like the sun.
As Phillip Yancy says, "Revelation 12 pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of Christmas as it must of looked from the angel's viewpoint."
It differs greatly from the birth stories in the Gospel's, but it teaches us that in life, there are two parallel histories happening simultaneously, one on earth and one in heaven.
And Christmas, the whole idea of the Incarnation, is nothing if not a convergence of both.