An Urbana Christmas
My house is as decorated as it is going to get, although there are still three boxes of things I haven’t brought out and a second tree I haven’t set up in the family room. Next year. Christmas is upon us, and all my plans to bake ahead have gone out the window in the press of other important activities—like promoting a new book and writing another that is long overdue.
But in the end Christmas isn’t about cookies or decorations, much less packages under the tree (even the kind that give big hugs and call you "Grammie, whose picture I couldn't resist putting in.") After all, it is “Christ Mass” not Santa Day. I have been using John Stott’s Through the Bible/Through the Year in my cup-of-tea-with-Jesus each morning. Being Anglican, Stott begins with the liturgical year in September, surveying the Old Testament with its history, prophets and poetic writings. Last week in preparation for Christmas, he looked at Images of the Messiah, who is:
• A Descendant of Eve, promised when the human race fell into sin;
• The Seed of Abraham, who “bore the curse so we might inherit the blessing” (p.135)
• A Prophet like Moses, who must be listened to;
• A King like David, whose Kingdom is righteous, peaceful, eternal and universal;
• A Priest like Melchizedek, with no beginning and no end;
• The Servant of the Lord, who suffered for us;
• And the Son of Man, the supreme Human Being.
John R. W. Stott was the main speaker at the Urbana Missions Conference held between Christmas 1970 and that New Year. I was a college student in those days, investigating God and the infinite possibilities of a future in His hands. “Uncle John,” as he is fondly called by those who know him well, is now in his 80s, with failing health. He is the author of many theological books and the founder of the organization for which my husband now works, Langham Partnerships. He has had a tremendous impact on many lives, including my own.
This is another Urbana year, although the tri-annual conference is now held in Saint Louis, Missouri. I can’t help wondering what impact this year’s speakers will have on a new generation looking for their futures. Where will they be thirty-nine years from now? How will the world and the Kingdom have changed because of commitments they make next week?
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LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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