Chris shares a poignant and heartfelt message of how the real meaning of Christmas brings hope, peace and joy, even at the end of a very, very tough year. (Text is shown below if you’d like to read instead or along with the video).
I think it would be fair to say that Christmas this year is likely to look very different for many of us, and predominantly not in a way that we are looking forward to. This year, 2020, has been a hard year for so many reasons. Touching all our lives is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused misery around the world, as well as bringing sickness, isolation, and financial worries to many of our doorsteps. Furthermore, as a church family there has been extra sorrow in addition to that caused by covid. The death of several members of our church family has hit many people, myself included, hard. And while we can be assured that they are with Jesus, this doesn’t alleviate the present pain of separation.
2020 has been a hard year.
With this backdrop it would be easy for us to recoil from the celebrations surrounding this time of year. It almost feels crass to have brightly coloured lights up, to be buying presents, to be singing cheerful songs. Or conversely, all these things may be a welcome distraction to what is going on. We can forget the pain and the sorrow of this year, if only for a few weeks, numbing our senses with turkey and carols.
But what if 2020 is a year where we can really engage with Christmas, with what happened 2000 years ago. What if this year is an opportunity for us to engage with the reality that God, the creator of the universe, chose to come and live amongst us. What if this year we take hold of the truth that we don’t just celebrate the fact that a baby was born, we celebrate the promise that was ushered in by his birth.
The angels proclaimed this to the shepherds, hailing the imminent promise that would bring great joy for all people. A promise so great that the joy that comes with it is not some form of fleeting joy, that comes one minute and is gone the next, but a deep routed joy, that permeates our very being, surrounds us, lives in us, bubbles out of us. A great joy that transcends our situations and our emotions. A joy that is founded in the firm assurance of what that baby, what Jesus, went on to achieve on the cross. A joy routed in our assurance of the promise of our imputed righteousness, resulting in safety and security in our relationship with him.
But how do we reconcile the truth of this promise with the pain of this year? How do we find the joy of the promise amongst the mourning? We can find an answer to this tension in Jesus. For we know that he was a man of sorrows, who wept at the death of his friend. But at the same time, being in perfect communion with the trinity, Jesus would have had the fruit of the spirit, including joy, permeating his character. So how was Jesus both a man of sorrows and filled with joy at the same time?
It is through a relationship with the father that these two states can be reconciled. The safety and security we have in this relationship enables us to find joy in the promise in all circumstances. The promise that when our present feels unbearable, and our future is uncertain, our foundation is solid. That he will be our help and our guide, that we can enjoy fullness of life in him, that we can find shelter beneath his wings, that we will be reunited with those who have fallen asleep in Christ. We know that because we have been reconciled to the father through the work of the cross these promises are as trustworthy as he who made them. It is in this place of security in our relationship with the father that we can learn to trust these promises, enabling us to find joy in our mourning.
And this is what the world needs, not to be anesthetised with turkey and gifts, but to be in a relationship with the father. To find absolute safety and security in that relationship, learning to trust his promises, and allowing joy to begin to permeate and transform their lives.