A new-born baby brings into existence something that never was before. Their birth changes the course of world history from the very moment of their birth; their life touches countless other lives and kick-starts an unbroken series of events at an unimaginable and unpredictable scale. Ultimately, that single life impacts and changes the world so intricately that we cannot imagine a world without it. This new life stirs up excitement and joy from the moment its conception becomes known to its family and friends. Upon its birth, this baby evokes wonder, laughter and indescribable love.

If this is the glorious reality of a single human life, how then can we limit the birth of baby Jesus to a single day of the year? How much of the greatness His birth have we then chosen to ignore, overlook or be numb to? As we approached Christmas this year, I was led to wonder of how immense and incredible His birth really is. How did He change the world? What does Christmas mean to us today? And what is it about Christmas that makes hope possible even amidst terrible global realities?

The book of Matthew opens with the line of genealogy leading up to the birth of Jesus Christ. From promise to promise, through one surrendered life after the other and generation to generation we see the divine will and glory of God move, till the prophesied day of heaven upon earth came to be. The Lord reminded me this Christmas that this story, this bloodline is unfinished, and He continues to author His will through our lives. The tale of Christmas is not history, but it is our present and reality.

Today, we are the innkeepers upon whose doors the High King is knocking on, seeking permission to enter. Just as He left the glories of heaven 2000 years ago for a world that He knew would betray, abandon, reject and ultimately crucify Him, He is at our doorstep today in all His brilliance, and He wants in; He wants to enter into our messes, imperfections, incompleteness and into the truth of our hearts. Scripture says that the Light of the world was once told “there was no available space in any upper room in the village” (Luke 2: 7), but what do we say to Him today? Could we be the innkeepers who say yes and offer Him our best room? For the good news is that, God who once deemed a lowly manger worthy to be born in, has chosen today to be born in the manger of our hearts, if only we allow Him this.

Today, we are the Josephs, the people whose yeses God is after. The yeses that will change the world, make room for glory and steward the hope of Christmas. By following the voice of God, Joseph embraced a situation which from the world’s point of view was disappointing and pitiful, but his silent obedience turned seeming disappointment into an opportunity for Kingdom work. By resisting rational, logical reactions to Mary’s supernatural conception, and choosing to obey heaven’s commands, Joseph said yes to salvation. He would have had a thousand questions running through his mind, but he was obedient before he received any justification for the sudden twists in his life; he was faithful before he received the answers he would have been yearning for. Today, amidst chaos, complications and disappointment the Lord assures us that we don’t always have to make sense of our situations or know the whys and hows in order to serve Him. He assures us that, even when all else is a blur, His goodness and righteousness is as clear as day. He reminds us that even when all the answers are not in our possession, we are called to say yes in faith. And in His perfect time, in His perfect way, He will reveal, He will give us vision and He will deliver. This Advent, what will our response be?

Today we are the shepherds, the ones with the power to “astonish” (Luke 2: 18) the world with the good news of the Lord.

The shepherds returned to their flock, ecstatic over what had happened. They praised God and glorified him for all they had heard and seen for themselves.
Luke 2:20

We have been hand-picked to shout out the name of Jesus into a world that sees Christmas as the party of the year. We have been called to deliver His tangible hope to a people who see nothing beyond glittering ornaments, festive songs and feel-good sentiments within this season. These are the flocks we must run to and the share the real joy, excitement and ecstasy of Christ with. Just as with the shepherds, heaven breaks into our lives suddenly, but marvellously, and this is the year to declare, share and testify to the joy of Jesus. The glory of heaven is “for everyone everywhere” (Luke 2:10). So, this new season, as people of God, what do we choose to broadcast into the world?

Christmas is not a mere remembrance nor a festivity. It is an invitation. An invitation, open to us all. An invitation to be welcoming innkeepers, faithful Josephs and ecstatic shepherds. It is an invitation to be fountains of hope within the world God redeemed. Moreover, Christmas is not something that ‘was’, it is something that ‘is’. The birth of Jesus still shakes up the heavens and the earth. The salvation, hope, love and mercy that His birth made ours, is real and alive even now, even today.

Most would agree that this year, the world lost and suffered a great deal. But “the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11-12). This is our hope, our cause for celebration and our victory. This is why we must make way, this is why we must say yes, and this is what we must declare to the world this season. Whatever it is that we lost, be it family, wealth, employment, relationships, dreams or even a sense of freedom, Christ promises to restore. And what He restores, we know will astonish and excite.

As we step into the new year, God has a message for us, or rather an invitation, should we choose to accept it. Despite the hopelessness our eyes are witnessing, the heart-breaking news our ears are hearing and the fears and frustrations consuming our hearts, the Lord whispers, ‘Look at me, focus on my voice and let me wrap your heart in mine’.

So you must be sure to keep the message burning in your hearts; that is, the message of life you heard from the beginning… And he himself has promised us the never-ending life of the ages to come!
1 John 2: 24-25

So, let us rise as his sons and daughters and take our place in a world unfamiliar and numb to the real hope and life of Christ. This new year, let us be the ones to embrace Him, take hold of His name and grasp the authority of being His children! (John 1: 12). Let us welcome the Light of the world in all the glory He is worthy of. And together, let us declare 2021 the year of the Lord!

By Prashana Fernando