Every day this Advent we will be sharing reflections from Christian authors. Today's is by Hamilton Moore.
The Advent: The Good News of Healing Broken Families
The UK currently has the highest level of family instability in the developed world. Greg Hurst, Social Affairs Editor of the Times claimed (in November 2017) that recent research of almost 11,000 families found family breakdown was the single biggest risk to children’s mental health once they reach their teens. The government is now seeking answers to this crisis and no doubt will seek to establish sweeping reforms to family law. Christians can have an input here in the present debate, both by highlighting the Biblical principles for marriage and the family, not least by setting an example of godliness in their own homes.
In Malachi 4:5–6 we have the final prophecy of the OT, four hundred years before the advent of Christ. The prophesy highlights the brokenness of God’s people and announces the promise of power to heal relationships. Malachi predicted that an Elijah-like prophet would be sent before the great and awesome day of the Lord came. The promise was that he would, “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” This scripture is linked to the Advent story in Luke 1. While Zechariah and Elizabeth receive the good news from God that they will have a son, John the Baptist, they are told, “He will go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” So we see that the message of Advent offers help for fractured families, emotional pain, broken relationships, sad failure and friction in the home. The coming of Christ into the world brought hope for all these situations.
The solution to family brokenness is a change of heart. Jeremiah 31:33 speaks of regeneration of the heart by the Holy Spirit as part of the new covenant, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.” Ezekiel 36:25–27 promises cleansing and renewal of God’s people by the Spirit, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” The Holy Spirit is the one who moves within our hearts and brings us to faith in Christ. Jesus’s death has paid the price, as he has taken upon himself the wrath for all our sins. Christ’s coming and his atonement brings forgiveness for the sins within family relationships, neglect of children, provocation, and harm.
The message of Christmas is one of hope. Christ can make you a new person and change your heart. He can heal fractured relationships; your future can be so different. Open your heart and your home this Christmas to heaven’s child, and things will be so different. The One born for us gave the greatest gift of all – love. His word can be our guide for future loving relationships. Nothing can compare to togetherness in him.
December 4th, 2018 - Posted & Written by The Editor