Dear family of St Paul’s,
Christmas time is a frenetic rush for many people. We are busy wrapping up business so that we can close for the holiday season. There are presents to buy and trees to decorate. There are meals to organise and a wash of parties and end of year functions to attend. There is so much going on and so much money being spent that at the end of it all we feel like falling in a heap and just relaxing. Unfortunately with all the rush we often are unable to even reflect upon what the true message of Christmas is all about. There have been many campaigns about getting back to the real thing, so to speak, like “Put Christ back into Christmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season.” These are good because they are reminders to us of the reason that there is a Christmas celebration after all. It is not, as the world would have it, the holiday season. It is all about the love of God who, through His Son Jesus, brings hope, peace and ultimately joy into our lives.
Perhaps it is good to reflect upon the purpose of the Christmas season.
In his infinite love for us God made a plan, not a few months before but at the very beginning of His creation. At just the right time in the progress of humankind, He intervenes, not with a loud bang and great fanfare, but in the backwaters of a little town in Israel. His Son was born into a very ordinary family in a stable. No clean maternity ward in an efficient hospital with nursing sisters and obstetricians on call if anything goes awry. In this way, God sends out a message of love to the disadvantaged of this world that even the king of creation has experienced hardship. The hardship is for a purpose though. It is to show that God’s love reaches to all regardless of status, class, gender or race. And the message is clear. “As I have loved you, so are you to love one another.”
But in a rather different way to what we would expect, Jesus brings to us hope. Even in the difficulties of life with all the things that seem to go wrong there is reason for hope. Jesus mission was to change our outlook from one of despair in the failure of the world to the hope of knowing that He is in control and He brings an assurance of a good future to us all.
With that hope comes peace as well. We find peace not in the organisation of our lives and the negotiated interaction with others, but we find peace in the knowledge that when all is said and done, none of our efforts can truly bring about world peace, but God in his infinite wisdom and his power can disarm the great nations and bring peace. But this peace is not like the peace we imagine – the cessation of conflict- but, it is a peace that is lodged deep within our hearts that communicates to us that our Lord has saved us from the destruction of this world.
Finally, Christ’s birth brings us joy. As we look upon a newborn child we are often filled with an emotion of pleasure at the tiny little bundle in our arms. But that joy is short lived. On the other hand the Christ child brings us joy because we know that it was He who brought us life in all abundance.
So dear friends may this Christmas be a time filled with love, hope peace and joy for each of you as you reflect upon God’s incredible gift to us in the form of His Son.