It’s here! It’s the day our son rips open presents and we gorge ourselves on food; the day we see and celebrate all that is good in the world. It’s a time to focus on hope and joy with family and friends; on extending kindness to others.
For our little family, Christmas has a special significance. One that has echoed over thousands of years to this present day. Today is the day we celebrate a birth of a baby who grew up to save His people through His sacrifice on a cross.
His birth was foretold centuries before by prophets like Isaiah who pointed to an everlasting King.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Today, I will follow my husband and son to our local church where we will sing songs and reflect on God’s plan to bring all the nations to Him through the birth of this child, Jesus. The Son of Man. God’s ultimate gift to mankind.
I wasn’t always a believer. There was a time when I thought Christians were hypocrites, at best to be pitied. I joined our university’s anti-Christian club that formed specifically to debate the Christians on campus. We thought they were deluded because God wasn’t real. Mind you, I was too lazy to participate. I had better things to do, like earning money and spending it.
My world view shifted in my mid-twenties thanks to the Buddhist, New Age, Self-help books I had at work. A colleague asked why I didn’t have a Christian book there. If I was indeed open minded and tolerant, why couldn’t I explore Christianity too? She invited me to church. I took up her challenge and went.
It changed my life. It was there I was confronted by Jesus and this concept called Grace. It was love and forgiveness extended to the unlovable, the fallen, the sinful. My pride was stripped bare as I found I was more flawed than I realised and in its place was the uncompromising, sacrificial love of God.
As time went on, I also realised I was right. Christians could be hypocritical. While they encouraged each other to love and good deeds, they were sinful as the rest of humanity. But what I came to understand was that many were well aware of their shortcomings. Many grieved it and clung to Christ because of it. They made mistakes, sought forgiveness, picked themselves up and tried again to live lives worthy of the love that has been poured out to them. And I was now one of them.
Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
Lyrics by Isaac Watts
Christmas has a meaning now that goes beyond the presents under the tree and the food coma in the afternoon. All that is a wonderful blessing. However, for our family, at the heart of Christmas, is a little baby born in a manger, who heralded the promise of better things to come. Of a world that will one day be free from pain and suffering.
It is a source of joy that isn’t dependent on what I will unwrap this morning, nice though it may be. It quietly urges me to persevere through suffering and comforts me every time I fail.
The featured image is the work of Denise Johnson on Unsplash