Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la…” It’s here again! Where does time go? Have you got the ‘app’ to count down the sleeps? ‘Tis the season to be stuck in extra crazy traffic, pushed around by frantic shoppers and bombarded by advertisements of all the latest must have’s. Don’t I sound ‘jolly’?! The reality for many of us is that we will come together at Christmas with friends and family, even if just for one day to enjoy each other’s company, to relax, catch up, partake of a small tipple of pre-dinner sherry, eat too much food and listen intently to the Queen’s speech. However, for others the reality may be very different – the reality of loneliness, or uncertainty, or maybe fear of the uncontrollable debts the New Year will bring. The ‘jolly’ for some is non-existent and for some just a temporary reality.
But the true message of Christmas is one of hope for everyone, bringing answers to some of life’s tough questions and a true sense of fulfilment in life that cannot be manufactured by any of the latest technology, fashions or trends. Written in the bible is that message of hope spoken by an angel to shepherds watching their flocks “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The message of Christmas is for us ALL, regardless of who we are and what issues we face. This ‘great joy’ is not just a temporary phenomenon; it is something that we can hold onto forever. Jesus was, and IS, the Great Joy.
Selwyn Hughes once wrote, “If Christmas means anything, it means that God came out of eternity into time so that we could share in His eternity”. Jesus is the Good News the angel spoke of. Emmanuel – God with us and in order for us to receive this share in His eternity Jesus had to go a step further than just being born. He was born in a lowly manger, only to be sacrificed on a wooden cross, “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death”. The death and resurrection of Jesus makes Christmas all the more important. Christmas is here, but Easter is coming!
The angel speaking to the shepherds continued to say, “A Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord”. Jesus is the Saviour, who was born ‘to you’ and to me. The whole reason for His coming to earth was that he could create a way for all mankind to once again have a close and unhindered relationship with God. I love the painting by Michael Angelo in the Sistine Chapel, where God is stretching out with every sinew of his body to reach Adam, whilst in response Adam’s face reflects a rather ‘can’t be bothered’ expression. Will this be you this Christmas with a half-hearted response, or will you grasp and whole-heartedly embrace the greatest gift anyone could ever receive?
The hype of all the Christmas shopping, eating, drinking etc. will soon be gone, but the certain hope that Jesus brings will continue into eternity. Every year, as soon as Christmas is over, the shops will bring out the Easter eggs and then we’ll all say “already?!” As soon as you see one, I encourage you to think of Jesus’ gift, the promise of hope. Christmas is here, but Easter is coming!