NOT GIVEN OVER TO DEATH
This weekend we joyously celebrate Advent – the coming of our Lord and Savior into our sin-cursed and desperately restless world. It is because of Advent that we can definitely make it through days and times like today, with great confidence and victory.
When Jesus came, light was unveiled, the angels sang, hope was reborn, peace was prophesied, and the promise of the coming Messiah was finally realized. Indeed, He changed the entire landscape of human existence fundamentally and forever. We concur with Isaac Watts as declared in his world-renown song Joy to the World,
“No More let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground,
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found.”
We declare thank God the curse is broken and His bountiful blessings flow. The forever good news for us is the curse is broken unalterably, permanently broken. In this we profoundly rejoice as we solemnly and cautiously march into 2021. I think maybe what we can all say about this year 2020 is that "The Lord hath chastened us sore: but he hath not given us over unto death” (Psalm 118:18).
The Apostle Paul was ever so careful to remind Timothy that the Lord “hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:9,10). Therefore, may we recapture the thought and never lose sight of the fact that Christmas uncompromisingly symbolizes the abolition of death, causing us to celebrate life and the immortality with which He has so engifted us.
On account of advent, death is cancelled, and life is exalted, bequeathed to us and absolutely cherished and celebrated. Today, in spite of all the unrest, rumblings, threatenings, disappointments, upsets, trouble of 2020 – we celebrate the glorious miraculous birth of the Christ-child and we still live with great flourish, profound peace and with a lively hope. Jesus’ beautiful, pastoral and prophetic words keep ringing ever loudly and persistently in our ears – “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The thief comes, but whatever He does or can do, is summarily dismissed by Jesus the source of life, the prince of life. The thief comes but he is superseded, upended and overthrown by the good Shepherd. His powers as the thief are vetoed and nullified. We end this year thanking God for life and immortality. Let the saints be joyful and rejoice! We face 2021 fearless and resilient, knowing that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s and that out of our bellies shall flow rivers of living water. We live forever victoriously and triumphantly. We look forward to a joyful and prosperous 2021.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Bishop – Northeast Region
December 26, 2020
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region