This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey. The God of love who gave us life sent His only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that He walks with us.
(Henri Nouwen, Gracias)
Today’s word for the Advent Journey is Mystery. My first thought was instantly the mystery of the Incarnation- God becoming flesh. As one of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, reflected on the mystery of Christmas, He pointed to God-with-us, Emmanuel, and how Jesus is with us forever and at every moment, knowing our struggles, meeting our needs, never leaving us nor forsaking us. I decided to dig a little deeper into the New Testament, mostly Paul’s letters to the early churches, and see what I could find on the topic of “mystery”. There is so much to unpack! I’m not going to write much tonight, myself, but rather just share some of the incredible verses I found about the mystery that was hidden in ages past, yet revealed in Christ Jesus and available to us as a free gift and treasure. Ok, are you ready? There’s a lot, but it’s powerful, it’s truth, and it’s the unveiling of the great mystery for all time and space and all people- the mystery made known in the baby born in a manger!
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Now to Him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith– to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ…In Him we have redemption through HIs blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment- to bring unity to all things in Heaven and on earth under Christ.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
(1 Corinthians 2:6-8)
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation…you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power…this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
I cannot say much else- the Apostle Paul shared so eloquently the picture and intricate details of the incredible mystery of the GOOD NEWS, the Gospel- for both Jew and Gentile. All I can say is that I am grateful to be a recipient of such good news and to be an heir of Christ Jesus the King. I am so overwhelmed when I think upon the glory of Christmas and the Holy Mystery wrapped in swaddling clothes. Let us just pause for a moment and be in awe of that Mystery. And if you’ve never surrendered your life to the mystery of Christ, there’s no better time than the week of Christmas to bow before the King of Kings and give your life to Him, for He so graciously has given His life to you and to me, for you and for me. Amen.