Christmas is hurtling towards us and for millions there’s the frantic scurry to get everything done. People ask “are you ready for Christmas?” Most of us groan and say no I’ve still got to do this or that or a thousand other things.
So much hype accompanies this time of the year and we are given this idea that to have the “perfect ” Christmas we have to have all sorts of plans and people in place. The reality is often far away from the mythical ideal. For some families this is a difficult time of the year. Families who’ve lost loved ones, families that have broken relationships, families who have loved ones serving their country abroad, people on their own acutely aware of their isolation, all struggling to cope with the way Christmas will be different for them this year.
So what’s the real reason for the season? Haven’t we lost something along the way here? Current attempts to downgrade Christmas to “Happy Holidays” have missed out on the real meaning of Christmas. For it is Christ who is central to Christmas, He and He alone is the reason for the season.
What possible significance could the birth of a baby so long ago have for us today in our fast paced modern world and isn’t all this just a story? Whatever you believe God isn’t some cosmic Santa Claus there to gratify our every whim. He loved us so much He came to show us what He’s really like. Identified with us in every way.
His young mother must have wondered like all first time mums what was going to happen when this baby came. She must have felt all the turbulent emotions that suddenly hit you when you realise this scrap of child is relying on you for everything, that mixture of awe, wonder, love and anxiety.
But she also knew that He was special, that He had been sent for a purpose, she would have probably felt that same fierce protectiveness that would want to keep Him safe at all costs. What she could never have known was the impact her tiny child would have as His story became History, that there would be a way to know who God was and what He was really like.
Forgiveness for everything would be possible, eternal life would be a reality. In the midst of the muck and smell of a stable, in the weary aftermath of birth, as she looked at her sleeping child Mary truly looked on the face of God as he lay in her arms.
Stop for a moment, leave the hustle and bustle of shops and lights and tacky Christmas music. Listen for the still small voice that calls you aside, that wants you to see how much more there is to the season, to see this isn’t just a convenient break in the dreariness of winter, but the defining moment when a new life could really begin for you.
And is it true? And is it true,
this most tremendous tale of all,
seen in a stained glass window’s hue
a baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a child on earth for you and me?
With love this Christmas