What does Christmas mean to you personally? To many it means a time of loneliness or remembering losses or sorrows. It can also be a time of celebration where gifts are shared while others make merry with wine and do not realize the deep meaning of Christ coming to Earth to save us.
Every year we Christians tell the Christmas story. Sometimes that story is told against the background of covid, illness, hospitals, or death. This year it will be told while mankind is ravaged by war, hunger, misery, and death on different continents. As we look at the Christmas story, we notice that it still gives us much hope and is a fitting story for our troubled times.
The first Christmas took place during a time of Roman oppression, suffering, and injustice. This authentic story is about a pregnant teenager and her confused husband who had to listen to God’s voice to direct them. It is about a Baby born in a stable, on straw in a manger, among animals, and this family being forced to flee to Egypt as refugees to hide from a dictator who was intent on murdering the true Hope of the world.
The birth of our Saviour happened at a time when the world was broken like today, yet Isaiah predicted His birth and suffering more than any other prophet. He wrote in Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Many cry out, “Where is peace?’ Where is hope?” We need to remember that the God of the Christmas story does not look away from human tragedy but that HE IS WITH US during it. The wonderful, powerful message of Christmas is that Jesus, having come into the world as a Child, helpless and vulnerable, becomes one of us, experiencing and sharing all the difficulties and distresses we undergo.
Jesus understands everything we go through because He went through it Himself. He came to bring His Light into a dark world. He came to conquer sin and heartache by dying an agonising death on the Cross. Dorothy Sayers wrote, “Jesus can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He himself has gone through the whole of the human experience – from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. He was born in poverty and suffered infinite pain – for all for us – and thought it well worth His while”.
The Christmas story tells us that through Jesus, even during war, conflicts, suffering and loss, God offers the gift of redemption and reconciliation, life and joy, not only among people, but also between God and us. Jesus gives us hope that goes beyond this life.
Precious Father God, thank You for sending Jesus to become human, like us, yet He retained His divinity and was without sin. Thank You for His death and resurrection which teaches us that without us dying to self, without us surrendering our lives to You, there is also no resurrection and eternal life for us hereafter. Please “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 Thank You that You give us the hope and joy we need, that You walk WITH US during hard times. Please be with all those who are not able to celebrate Christmas this year. Bless them and be their Comfort and Shield, their Hope, their Peace, and their refuge. Amen.