So are you excited about the newest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens) coming out this week? I must admit that I am! The first film in the series, A NewHope, was released in May of 1977, right as I was graduating high school. It was a big deal back then ... so much so that I actually wanted to take my mom to see it with me. Three years later the second movie was released - The Empire Strikes Back. I was in college in Atlanta and vividly remember going with a friend, Matt, to stand in line at the Phipps Plaza theater to catch the first showing. They didn't do midnight releases back them or ticket pre-sales ... just ordinary movie times and first come first serve on tickets. We waited for several hours in a line that meandered through the mall ... but we got in to see it and were thrilled! And then three years following that, in 1983, Matt and I return to Phipps Plaza to see Return of the Jedi on opening day. Another long line, maybe even longer, but the same exciting successful result!
The next three in the series didn't come along until 1999 (The Phantom Menace), 2002 (Attack of the Clones), and 2005 (Revenge of the Sith). We were here in Moody for those releases, went to see each one, and really enjoyed them all. So am I planning to go see The Force Awakens this Friday? Yep. Maybe I'll see you there ... apparently lots of folks are planning to attend. It's predicted that this movie could bring in around $500 million on opening weekend.
The Christmas season is a time of celebrating a different kind of release. And it's emphasis is not so much on us going to it, rather it's about God coming to us. It's a time to specifically remember the opening day of Immanuel (God with us), the incarnation, the day God took on flesh and we saw Him as human. There was no media blitz (other than some angels appearing to a handful of lowly shepherds and the appearance of some sort of star noticed by wise men in the east); there was no sense that this birth was such a big deal that boys wanted their moms to see him; there were no long lines to wait in to see this baby; there was no worldwide rush or excitement about anything that had to do with the baby Jesus. Rather He was born in relative obscurity and lived most of His life that way. He was eventually hated, despised, mocked, rejected, beaten, betrayed, and murdered even though He was completely innocent and only did what was right and true. Of course we know that all this had a purpose and that it was necessary and effective for our salvation.
We also know that His coming has a sequel ... and this time it will be a really big deal. He won't be coming in obscurity but rather in all His power and glory. Every single person in the world will notice and be in awe of His majesty. And with His second coming we have the assurance that everything will be made right, shalom will be restored, and sin will be no more. Are we ready for that day? Come, Lord Jesus.
We may be ready but there are thousands of people even in our own little area (Moody, Leeds, Odenville, Trussville, Pell City) who aren't. They don't know the Jesus of Scripture. Many, if not most, have likely heard about Him and have some moralistic concept of who / what He must be like, but they don't truly know Him. Let us be burdened for these folks. Let us be people who pray for them, who tell them about Jesus, who live out the Gospel before them, who love them as Jesus have loved us. Let's be those who invite them to church so they might be exposed to God's Word and God people. Let's ask this Jesus who has come and who was crucified, buried, and resurrected would make Himself known to them through the power of His Holy Spirit and would breathe into them the breath of eternal life, just as He's done with us!