This year has been unlike any other. For months we have been in lockdown and quarantine. Unable to meet our family and friends. Our minds have been consumed by the numbers of Covid patients, deaths and days of lockdown. After being in lockdown for what seemed like an eternity, I was longing for the Christmas season to begin. I was counting down the days till I could put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house. It was going to be my escape from the fear of Covid and it was to be a celebration of getting through the lockdown. I am sure many people felt the same way. Driving through the streets, I saw the many homes and lawns decorated with bright lights, Santa figurines and reindeer. Everyone was ready to celebrate something. Anything.
Sitting in prayer, I asked myself, what am I really celebrating? The end of lockdown and the chance to meet my friends and family? The end of a terrible year? The season of Santas and reindeer? Was I celebrating the season of joy and love? Or was I celebrating the Son of God, who came down from Heaven and became a helpless babe to save me? I was so busy getting ready for Christmas that I had forgotten the reason we celebrated it.
When we close our eyes and imagine the first Christmas, what is it that comes to mind? Mother Mary going through the pain of childbirth, without the aid of family, a midwife or anyone else could have assisted her through those crucial moments of childbirth. We envision St. Joseph trying to find a suitable place for their child to be born, but finding out that nothing was available except for a stable. We see Christ becoming an innocent, helpless baby who cries, as all babies do, for the love, warmth and affection of another human being. We remember that instead of being born into luxury, wealth and comfort He was born in a stable with only a manger for a bed.
God planned each detail of this moment. He did not want His Son to be born with luxury and wealth. His plan involved a bright star, a stable, a manger, angels and shepherds. He chose the simplest and most humble shelter as the place of His Son’s birth. Angels appeared to helpless shepherds instead of doctors, midwives and/or priests. This was a message to us-- Jesus was born to be our light in a cold and dark world. The bible is full of scripture that attests that Jesus is the light of the world. The Word of God tells us in John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Isaiah 60:19-20 says, “The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.”
Jesus was born to give light to the world. He was born to give light to YOUR world. This what we celebrate at Christmas. We celebrate a Saviour who left everything in heaven to become one of us, to bring light and joy back into our lives; the lives once marked with distress, difficulty, sadness and fear.
The Word of God tells us in Luke 1:10, ‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’ The Lord Jesus was born for each of us. He was born to bring us love and joy. To make our hearts glow with joy no matter what circumstances we face. So, when we decorate our houses and put up our trees let us remember that we are not merely celebrating the end of a difficult year, we are also celebrating a Messiah that was born to bring us light. He is our way, truth, light, our saving grace and our Emmanuel. He is with us.
Today, while those of us in Australia may be celebrating Christmas, many of our brothers and sisters around the globe may be in lockdown, may be alone, and far from any position to celebrate. Some may be in hospitals, and some mourning the death of loved ones. But the Lord calls us all. He calls each of us to celebrate Him as the light that will pierce our darkness and return to our hearts an eternal joy. So my prayer for you all this Christmas, is that you allow Him to be born in Your life, and that you open your heart to Him through a simple whispering of, “Lord, make my heart the manger you lie in.” For He is waiting to fill your heart with His light and love, and satisfy your soul this Christmas.