I’ve been thinking about the Christmas story, a tale almost everybody knows by heart, and trying to come up with something new to share with you. I read through chapter 2 of Luke again, but then my eye was drawn to the last part of chapter 1 of Luke. There it was: the story of Elizabeth and Mary meeting together to share the joy of their pregnancies. The one who had been married for many years, and thought she would never have a child, and the young girl who was already a bit worried about what everyone would say, since she wasn’t yet married, yet was with child. How happy they both were to share their common joy across the generations and the miles that separated them! They both are full, no doubt, of wonder, dreams, hopes and aspirations for their boys. And yet, these two women would both see their sons die violently- murdered by government functionaries. In all of the sweet moments of Christmas I often forget that Jesus was born – to die. As we gather around the manger celebrating His birth, let us pray that we get WHY He came into the world. Let us pray that His birth, life and death were not in vain. We must pray that we have followed His vision, that we have kept His commandments, surrendered to His authority in our lives and have indeed already begun living in what He called “the kingdom of God.”
There are so many songs which touch our hearts, especially during this Christmas season (including the season of Advent leading up to Christmas, and Epiphany immediately following Christmas), but one I haven’t heard in about 40 years came to me once again: “I will celebrate Nativity, for it holds a place in history, Jesus died to set His people free, what is that to me? Then one day, I met Him face to face; I felt the wonder of His Grace! Then I knew that He was more than just a God, a God who didn’t care, who lived a way up there and, Now He walks beside me day by day, ever watching o’er me lest I stray, helping me to find the narrow way: He’s everything to me!”
I pray that Jesus accomplishes His life’s work in your heart this Christmas season. I pray that some scripture, some song, some gift of love helps you to make that 18 - inch leap from your head to your heart, and Jesus Christ fills your heart with the joy and the peace that helps you to make it through whatever obstacles and difficulties you may have to face. I pray that He is indeed born once again into your life and heart, and that you feel Him close by to comfort, strengthen and guide you. I pray that you are able to give Him the things that worry you, the struggles and the concerns. I pray that you receive the joy and the hope and the new life that only Jesus can give to you this blessed season!
Pastor Jeff Symonds