Every year the run up to Christmas is a time filled with hope. If you are young especially so because of the presents. What will I get? Have I dropped enough hints to mum and dad? Many older people hope to spend time with their families whilst struggling parents often hope just to survive! Though important, none of these things do justice to the hope that came into our world at Christmas.
God entered our world as a baby to find lost people and guide them back into friendship with him. He knew humanity had lost its way and we know just by looking at our world this is equally true today. War, famine, climate change, etc., etc., are all reasons to lose hope except that God has not given up hope in us and he has not given up hope in you!!!
Peace is not the absence of conflict. How many times have you been with someone where you could cut the atmosphere with a knife and no one was speaking? That’s not peace! When Nelson Mandela left Robin Island prison a free man he understood this. He is quoted as saying, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” It would take a conscious act of will on his part to reach out for him to experience peace.
Christmas celebrates a conscious act of will on God’s part. He chose to send Jesus. He chose for him to come as a baby who lived a humble life and was crucified rather than a powerful being who enslaved everyone. He reached out to us. Christmas challenges us all to embody peace and to reach out to others.
Who doesn’t want to be loved? Christianity tends to put the word sacrificial before love, sacrificial love. Acting in such a way that even if you are disadvantaged the welfare of the other person has greater priority. At Christmas time we sing carols like ‘Love came down at Christmas’, without ever really thinking what this means because the message of love at Christmas is sacrificial love.
God became human. An eternal, infinitely powerful being took on the form of a human child and lived a human life. He experienced everything it is to be human, love, loss, illness, happiness, you name it. Why would he do that? Unless he loved us. The greatest example of sacrificial love we have can be found in the baby Jesus.
Happiness is fleeting, some days we are happy and some we are not. Any given day will be more or less happy than the day before or the day after. Such is life! Happiness though is not joy because when Christians speak of joy they have in their minds an ideal that doesn’t change from one day to the next depending on circumstances.
Joy is a state of being that for Christians is based on God coming down to earth. Nothing that happens to us will change the fact God loved us enough to come to earth in the person of Jesus. Whether we are having a good or a bad day doesn’t alter what God did. That is why Christian have joy.