Christmas traditions have changed over the years. Perhaps they’ve always been changing, and it’s only lately that I’ve noticed!
As a child, I lived in a street where most of the people went to church, and believed in the story of the wise men and the shepherds who came to worship the baby Jesus. I wonder what response I’d get now, if I were to call on every home in our street and ask the occupants to tell me their beliefs about Christmas. Would they even be thinking about Jesus at this time, let alone pondering the miracle of a virgin birth? Or do they celebrate the festival at all?
I’ve always enjoyed receiving Christmas cards from friends, and displaying them with the manger scene every December, but now most of us send our greetings in an email. In this way we learn how all our friends and their families are faring, and look forward to seeing the digital photos of aging faces in faraway places. Other people seem so busy catching up on gift-buying, or parties with their favourite groups, that they don’t have time left for meditating on this important event. There are holiday preparations, and the rush to organise their Christmas meal. It makes me feel tired, just thinking about it!
My mind goes back to the angels who appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth; they had an assignment to visit a paddock on the outskirts of Bethlehem. I’m sure they were excited to join the event that would change the world forever. Their message to the shepherds who were watching their sheep that night, was: Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God ~ Luke 2:14
These words introduced a new concept: heaven and earth were about to be delivered as one package, and it was good news! This was the mystery that had been revealed to the ancient prophets down through the ages and now it was actually happening! Amazing! Glorious! Wonderful! Who would have believed that God would choose this way to bring his joyful home into the lives of all mankind?
Who but God would show such wisdom;
by His Love would heal the rift
‘tween mankind and His own Kingdom?
Gave a Babe ~ Himself the Gift!
Nowadays we can read how his mother, Mary, responded to this unique event, and how her fiance made the most difficult choice of his life to marry her. We can also read the reaction of Simon in the Temple, and Anna, the old woman there, who were thrilled to see the baby. We know the cruel act of the king who hated him. All these stories spread around the Roman territory of Israel and eventually made their way into our Bible. But we have no report on the thoughts of the baby who had to make the journey, first from heaven, then from the womb, a short distance into the world: the world he’d created!
However, there is a record of the state of mind of that Person who became our Saviour. It’s found in a letter written by the Christian missionary, Paul, to the Philippian church.
Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God. Instead he gave up everything and became a slave when he became like one of us. Christ was humble. He obeyed God and even died on a cross. Then God gave him the highest place and honoured his name above all others ~ Philippians 2: 6-9
If I knocked at your door today, could you tell me what you believe about Jesus Christ?