The Sovereign God of history and time kept His promise of sending the Chosen One or Messiah at the exact right time. God’s mercy is sovereign – it will triumph. Likewise, He will not forever tolerate a world in which mercy is not the vital and ultimate rule of life.
In the most unexpected way and unsuspected timing to an incredulous human world – the hidden plan of God became visibly fulfilled. It was so unexpected that there was no room for the birth of the Son of God!
I am much comforted and assured to be a witness at Christmas to this perennial truth - that God is at work in arranging the fulfilment of His plans and purposes in spite of, through and against the efforts of human beings. Without sounding fatalistic, we can be assured that God’s purposes are unstoppable – as demonstrated by the first Christmas, when He accomplished the plan of salvation for human kind – in the most unexpected of moment and method. In the words of the Lord Jesus - “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” [John 5:17]
God’s timeliness of action in history was at a time when things looked hopeless as powerful men and a dominating hostile society were having the upper hand in persecuting the Messiah. It looked so hopeless that Peter [John 18:10] had to take matters into his own hands in defending the Saviour – he drew his sword to cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest at the Garden of Gethsemane!
But the anointed Son of God, Maker of heaven and earth, was unstoppable in fulfilling His journey “from conflict to communion” – facing off with the unrelenting human and demonic evil forces, and sovereignly accomplished restoration of communion for a fallen world that had been in conflict with its Creator.
From Conflict to Communion is the intentional theme of the joint celebration this year by the Lutherans and Roman Catholics worldwide. It marks the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation that began when a devout priest and sincere Christian was at conflict with his church. Martin Luther on 31 October 1507 nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
That began the Protestant Reformation movement that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Much blood was spilled, insults traded, mutually inflicted suffering etc. followed in a chapter which the Church is not proud of.
From Conflict to Communion is a document jointly released by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity that warms our heart. It is a historic Lutheran-Catholic common commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 – a first during the ecumenical age that is an occasion that seeks to deepen reconciliation, restoration and communion globally between Lutherans and Catholics.
May we too, as we celebrate Christmas, be intentional in asking for the grace of making our own personal unstoppable journey from conflict to communion - bearing fruits of reconciliation, restoration and goodwill, no matter how old these conflicts may be. These conflicts may be “clashes and fights” with God, with ourselves, with family members, with other believers in the congregation, in the work place or with other citizens and residents of this land. Let us seek and work towards the fruits of peace - reconciliation and restored communion, in as much as it depends on us. Paul calls us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace [Ephesians 4:3] within the church and on earth peace, good will toward men [Lk 2:14].
May the blessings of the Prince of Peace be with you and your loved ones as we enter the Advent and Christmas season, remembering what a wondrously loving, omnipotent and self-sacrificing Saviour we have – Who made that unstoppable journey from conflict to communion for each of us.
As we remember and celebrate Advent and Christmas, may we “lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God” [Col 1:10].
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.
“A Blessed Christmas and Joyous New Year”