Dear Friends of the North American Lutheran Seminary,
Recently I was asked to write a Christmas Eve devotion based upon the appointed readings in the Anglican church. Interestingly, one of those readings was Revelation 16. This is the chapter that describes the seven bowls of wrath being poured out upon the earth. After each bowl, the destruction and chaos increases upon the earth. This is a strange lesson to read on Christmas Eve! Who wants to hear about God’s judgment on Christmas Eve? But, then again, maybe I’m wrong? Maybe Christmas is God’s judgment on the world?
Think of it like this. Jesus is the wisdom of God incarnate. In this world, God’s wisdom is often resisted, rejected and despised. On the other hand, thankfully other people receive, respect and love God’s wisdom. Everything most important about a person is revealed by their response to God’s wisdom incarnate in Jesus Christ. As the Gospel of John puts it, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). However, “whoever does what is true comes to the light” (John 3:21). God’s judgment — for good or ill — is our response to Christ Jesus.
Mary and Herod stand as exemplars of this truth. Mary embraces the promise of God and becomes the woman through whom God takes flesh (Theotokos). Herod hears the news of God’s wisdom being born and he tries to rid the world of this would-be king. One receives and rejoices and the other rejects and resists. This is the whole of human history writ small.
Yet, we are Christians. We are those who like Mary have received Christ Jesus and want to live as disciples of his wisdom. This is the wisdom that the NALS seeks to impart to all of our students. I’m reminded of what Paul wrote, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). That is a good summary of what the NALS is trying to do. We’re teaching the wisdom of Christ to our students so that they may be “mature in Christ.” I thank you all for your faithful and ongoing support of this endeavor.
I wish you all a blessed Advent and Christmas. The Wisdom of God is the reason for the season.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Eric M. Riesen