Each Christmas season we are bombarded with the exhortations to be happy, merry and jolly. And for so many it is indeed a time of joy and love. But Christmas can also be a painful reminder that something’s wrong with this world. For those who have lost a loved one during the year, it is at best a bittersweet time. For those who have lost a job, suffered a broken relationship, struggled with financial woes or dealt with serious sickness in the household, the call to be happy is a call to the impossible.
But if we look beyond the world of hyped up Christmas advertising and corny Christmas movies, (which I love by the way!), Christmas is exactly what the broken of this world need. It is about God stepping into the pain, into the mess, and doing something about it. The message of Christmas is a message of HOPE.
Five years ago, my loving mum died of a brain tumor, just four weeks before Christmas. That year, as my husband drove us to my daughter’s house for our annual Christmas dinner with my adult children and their families, my tears flowed uncontrollably. With a concerted effort I set aside my grief just before we arrived. After the hustle of Christmas greetings and cuddles of small children, we organized the festive fare, and then the family paused and joined in a circle to thank God for the food. My four-year-old granddaughter eagerly offered to say grace. This little girl had been praying for her great grandmother to ‘get better’ almost daily for 6 months and yet four weeks earlier had attended her funeral. To our total amazement, as none of us had mentioned mum that day, instead of thanking God for the food, she simply prayed, “Dear God, thank you that Grandma is now in heaven with you, Amen.”
My granddaughter had expressed the true hope of Christmas in a nutshell.
Her beautiful prayer filled my heart with a fresh reminder of the hope that God offers us all. This is not a wishful-thinking kind of hope, but a firm, substantial confidence that we can hold on to. A hope that reminds us that God has not left us alone. He does not fix the pain of this world by rescuing us out of it and taking the pain away, but He put on flesh, entered into the world, and took humanity’s pain, sorrow, and rebellion upon himself.
This is what God’s eternal Son, Jesus Christ, came to do when he stepped into this world as a baby over 2,000 years ago. This is what Christmas reminds us of afresh each year.
Field Staff Manager