The long drought in north central Texas has left much of the land dry, the lakes low, the landscape barren, most cities on water rationing, and the people tired and worried. The trees have color, but it is the dull color of a fall with drought. Christmas commercials, carols, and sales are proceeding normally, but the weather feels wrong and the songs sound like some surreal prank sent by the weird wizard from the evil weatherlands. We've had a little taste of winter weather, but not much. We've had hints of possible rain, but little real precipitation.
I am ready for some winter chill. I want to see the hoar frost of a cold morning and feel a little winter bite on my cheeks as I get out of my car. I want to come inside and need to warm up instead of turning on the fans. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I remembered a Christmas from fifteen years ago. I thought I'd go back and re-run a piece written then, just in hopes that Saint Nic's sleigh would be needed this Christmas and not some dune buggy tracking its way across the dusty and barren lands of west Texas where the only white is the sad sight of fields of plowed under cotton that didn't "make" this year. So join me as we look over my shoulder at a Christmas fifteen years past, and let's remember what the weather was like when Jesus came!
When I stepped out of the door this past Sunday morning, I was greeted with two delightful tastes of joy. First, the brisk north breeze brought with it an invigorating chill. Second, the ground was saturated from an overnight rain. God brought both to us with a cold front that blew in during the night. We have suffered through a long, hot, dry fall in Texas. Drought has had its strangle hold on us. Temperatures have remained much warmer than normal. But now, finally, God has sent us a breath of fresh air to break the drought and refresh our spirits! This reminds me of the weather when Jesus came.
As Luke tells us the story, he wants us to feel God's refreshing Spirit blowing through parched hearts and bringing God's fresh gifts of grace and heaven's rain. The Holy Spirit of God, one of the key promises of the New Covenant, burst on the scene like a breath of fresh air. His presence was everywhere.
- The Spirit came with power and conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary.
- The Spirit was present with John the Baptist from his mother womb, so John leaped for joy inside her when the newly pregnant Mary, carrying the Messiah, came to see her.
- The Spirit inspired Elizabeth to affirm Mary's faith that God had placed the Messiah in her womb.
- The Spirit inspired Elizabeth to praise God for his great work of salvation to be done by the one in the womb of Mary.
- The Spirit broke God's imposed silence of Zechariah and inspired the old priest's great proclamation of praise and joy.
- The Spirit led, convinced, and inspired Simeon to meet and praise God's Messiah, baby Jesus, in the Temple.
The weather changed when Jesus came!
Luke helps us feel the cool breezes of God's refreshing Spirit as God's fresh Wind wafts its way through the hearts of God's people. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of this special time. God's holy Wind, his powerful Breath, his comforting Spirit would blow through God's holy people and begin a new day, a new age, and bring a New Covenant. Luke wants us to know God's cold front has come to God's parched land and his heavenly Breeze has begun to blow fresh life into weary souls!
This heavenly Breeze would be for all who would become children of God (Acts 2:38-39; Acts 5:32; Romans 8:1-16).
This Holy Breath from God would be poured out by Jesus upon all who became Christians (Acts 2:33; Titus 3:3-7), born of water and Spirit (Acts 2:38; John 3:3-7).
The presence of this holy Wind insured that everything would be different and refreshingly new (Acts 3:18-19; Acts 5:22).
So as we gather around and tell stories of baby Jesus, wise men from the East, Shepherds in their fields, mean old Herod in his palace, and a long journey for a couple expecting their first baby, let's not forget the weather! You see, God sent one glorious cold front, pushed through by his mighty, refreshing, and holy Wind. This Breeze from heaven's grace started the events that gave Mary a baby and changed everything for you and me! So while Bing Crosby may have been dreaming of a white Christmas, God preferred to send his refreshing, mighty, holy Wind to change the weather at Christmas, for all of us.
O Holy Spirit, Breath of heaven, come and fill our weary hearts with grace. Stir our songs with a fresh joy of angelic praise. Comfort our broken and fearful spirits with your gentle breezes of grace and mercy. Fill us with your holy power as you fan into flame the dying embers of our once passionate hope. Bring God's weather to us this Christmas just as you changed the spiritual climate when Jesus first came. In the name of Jesus and through your gracious intercession for us, O Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.