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The Lovely Scripture and Its Reassurances

By Bob Slosser Columnist - A good number of liturgical churches in America presumably are still in the period called Epiphany in the Episcopal church calendar. Admittedly a slow poke myself, Im also still a tad preoccupied with things growing out of the Christmas season. Dont laugh. This time called Christmas is very important to me. After all, where would we be if there had been no birth of Christ? Without the Nativity there would be some very noticeable gaps in the Western world. I think wed all notice it.

Seriously, have you ever thought of what the entire world would be like if Jesus had not been born? Just think: no mention of Christ throughout history. Some very interesting stories have been written on this theme, I guess. There may have been some big-time writings about it, but that was some while ago, I think. Something about waking up and finding that everything with the name Christ in it or in any way related to it has vanished.

If someone the worlds courts could remove all traces, visible and invisible, of Christ from everything throughout existence, life would be very diminished, Id say. Most of us are still paying for Christmas and will be for awhile. One thing about the real Christmas is that its all free. No bills, no big expense. Just take it. If it werent for anything else and it is, hallelujah! -- Id still be celebrating it.

But (quit digressing, old man) . . .what if, somehow, some way, someone should remove every trace of Christ and Christians overnight? (1) There would be no Christian music of any kind, written or recorded: hymns and related church music, classical, contemporary, jazz, opera, operetta. (2) There would be no historic Christian cathedrals and other architectural phenomena, of which there are scores of great renown, especially in Europe. (3) There would be much less great painting, sculpture and architecture. (4) There would be much less of every sort of great literature and, thus, film, video, and theater writing achievement. (5) There would be fewer great academic institutions and thus less significant and world-changing medical and philosophical research and other developments. The list could go on forever.

I said all this to help explain why Im still talking today about the birth of Christ and about a short sentence actually found in my churchs liturgical readings at the end of Advent this year. In Matthew 1:21 it says, "He will save His people from their sins" short and sweet, very sweet. It reassures us about precious Israel. What a powerful reason for discussion.

Salvation was coming. But to whom? To "His people." My favorite Bible commentators good ol Jamieson, Fausett, and Brown say the phrase included "the lost sheep of the house of Israel, in the first instance; for they were the only people He then had" at the time the angel spoke in a dream to Joseph about Marys pregnancy. But after Calvary and the Cross, "on the breaking down of the middle wall of partition, the saved people embraced the redeemed unto God by His blood out of every kindred and people and tongue and nation in the most comprehensive sense of salvation from sin."

Yes, beloved, Jesus came for and suffered for Israel, but, as promised, He fulfilled John 3:16. He frees us from the wrath to come and delivers us to heaven. But there is much more. He frees us from the wrath of Satan at this hour. Our ancient foe is defeated now! He can roar, and threaten, and intimidate, but He cannot have us. He is defeated and dethroned now cast from heaven just as Jesus reported, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18, NKJV).

I thank the Lord for the lovely Holy Scripture and its hope.

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