Source: AAC Weekly Email Update
January 4, 2013
The following first appeared in the January 4, 2013 edition of the the AAC’s weekly email update. Sign up for this free email here.
Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
May you have a happy and blessed new year in the Lord. December 2012 has come and gone, and as expected, the world is still here and the worry that the Mayans knew something that we didn’t has passed us by. We do know that Jesus Himself is coming back, and that we won’t know the date, so constant vigilance is needed. Loving God and doing acts of mercy for your neighbors are both required of those who have accepted the lordship and sovereignty of Jesus Christ and have given him authority over their lives.
This Sunday, January 6, 2013 is the Feast of the Epiphany, and remembers the arrival of the Magi from the East. They weren’t kings, nor were they magicians, but they were very important. The Magi were a group of highly educated men who studied the stars. Aspects of their knowledge would include what we today call astronomy, astrology, and perhaps theology as well. They believed that future events were foretold in the movement and positioning of the stars, and so they advised their kings concerning war and government, of dangers and fortuitous opportunities ahead. They could tell from their reading of the stars that a king was about to be born in the land of Judah, so they set off to find this king and present appropriate gifts. Many scholars think that they arrived well after the birth of Jesus, but while the Holy Family was still in Bethlehem. Their inquiries of King Herod prompted Herod to order the massacre of all the young male babies in Bethlehem in an attempt to remove any threat to his own throne.The Magi did find the Christ child and subsequently the Holy Family fled to Egypt for safety, perhaps only slightly ahead of Herod’s death squad. To those of us who enjoy and appreciate the science of astronomy and yet find the concept of astrology somewhat odd, the idea that God would use the heavens to write clearly his message to the whole world that his son was being born, is, well, maybe puzzling. At that time, however, most of the world did believe in astrology, and that the future was written in and controlled by the stars and planets. God acknowledged the world where they were, and sent a message in terms they could understand. What media would God use today to send us all a message? Television? The internet? Our iPhone or iPad? A text message or a tweet? Holy Scripture says that when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory, the heavens will roll up as a scroll. This image may not give us a clear picture, but if you imagine a pull-down window shade that is under spring tension, you know that if it gets away from you it rolls suddenly up to the top and disappears. When the heavens roll up we will all see it, and hear it, and the moment will be upon us.
Scripture is also clear that there won’t be an advance warning specific to the day or time of the event, so we can’t wait to prepare until we read the warning in the newspaper; the time to prepare is now – and then continue to live in a state of spiritual preparedness on through the year. It may well be that we live out our entire lives as faithful Christian men and women, but Jesus’ return is sometime further in the future. Whether it is soon or still distant, we know it is coming, and being prepared becomes a way of life and a spiritual discipline that serves us well.
In some parts of the world, especially in repressive Muslim-controlled countries, Christians face a near apocalypse at any moment, and so being prepared for either Christ’s return or their own sudden death is very relevant. The Islamic religious authorities that effectively run the country of Iran frequently use the Christmas season to crack down on Christians, and this Christmas they re-arrested Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor imprisoned for apostasy from Islam. An international protest resulted in his release, but the hardliners are determined to make an example of him. What kind of a religion wants to kill people for converting, and if they can’t kill them, to imprison them? I certainly prefer Christ’s invitation and promises rather than the Islamists’ threats and spiritual bullying. Please continue to pray for this pastor, husband and father, that he would be spiritually and physically sustained in these hours of trial and abuse, and that he would be released safely, and able to witness to the lordship of Christ.
Many in the Anglican world are asking when the new Archbishop of Canterbury Designate (ABCD) will be officially made the new Archbishop of Canterbury. It apparently is a multistep process and we have included a short article that lays out the timeline clearly. And in closing, we note that the British Prime Minister has announced that the Queen has given Dr. Rowan Williams a life peerage, and he will become Baron Williams of Oystermouth. I wish him well.
Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council