We live at a time when so many of our hopes are dreams are framed by impossibilities. Peace between Israelis and Palestinians . . . impossible. Wars in Yemen and Syria ending . . . impossible. A US congress where Democrats and Republicans engage in healthy, respectful dialogue, and work collaboratively across the aisle for the good of America . . . impossible. A society marked by cultural stability where it is safe to walk the streets at night . . . impossible. A culture where a man and a woman in their twenties with their whole lives in front of them stand at the altar of a church and pledge their entire lives to one another and then actually live it out and are faithful to one another until death separates them—many would say . . . impossible. An America where the threat of terrorism is a distant memory . . . impossible.
Yet, this is the time of the year when we recall afresh that the gospel of Jesus Christ is what transforms the impossible into the possible. Indeed, it is the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ which totally reframes the world and all of human history. It is these two great singularities, incarnation and resurrection, which reframe a world of despair and cynicism into the larger frame of hope and promise. Yes, Christmas and Easter change everything! This old creation is broken and wounded, but you know that the New Creation is already breaking in! But, we Christians are the heralds and ambassadors of the New Creation. We are capable of thinking thoughts that the world cannot think. We are capable of sacrificial acts which the world cannot fathom. We are capable of dreaming dreams in a world that only knows ever-maddening nightmares. We can think about possibilities.
The whole ministry of Jesus was framed by impossibilities: incarnation and resurrection, a virgin birth, and an empty tomb. Someone once said, Jesus came into the world through a door marked “no entrance,” a virgin womb. He left through a door marked “no exit,” a tomb of death. Two great impossibilities made possible in Jesus Christ. Nobody had ever walked through those doors before: a virgin womb and a sealed tomb. In Jesus Christ, the world’s greatest impossibilities are made into possibilities.
Dear readers, you have under-heard the story of Christmas if you thought it was just about warm family times, opening presents, decorating trees, going to special Christmas services and eating amazing food. All of those things are wonderful things, but Christmas is about so much more. This Advent we are to prepare for the real meaning of Christmas: the event which completely reframes and re-orders the whole of human history—and all of your history as well.
You can go out into this world and in Jesus Christ see the impossible made possible. You can work for peace, because the prince of peace is the Risen and Ascended Lord. You can re-engage in government and live free of bitterness and cynicism, because the government rests on his shoulders. You can wage holy war against crime, because God’s love for the world is always greater than Satan’s hate of it. You can boldly rescue men, women, and children from human trafficking and the downward spiral of drug addiction because “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all those who dwell therein.” You can sit with husbands and wives who walk into your office and say “we have given up, our marriage has no hope.” And you can say, without blinking, “God still has the last word in your relationship.” You can preach the gospel to lost sinners and believe afresh in the power of God’s redemption because the cross is still the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. Christmas is about hope!
Don’t let this season catch you in the net of despair. Do not get trapped in the web of cynicism. Do not get swallowed up by all the impossibilities. Instead, remember that it is the incarnation which forces us to remember that all of the “impossibilities” of this world have been re-frarmed by the hope of Jesus Christ!