Merry Christmas everyone! I hope this is a special and meaningful time for you, your family, and your friends.
The Christmas Story
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Let’s take a few moments today to think about this significant event, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 2:1-22 in The Message Bible.
Sometimes we develop fairly romantic or sentimental thoughts and feelings about the Christmas story. Even a surface reading of this story causes us to easily miss some of the details. The reality is that Jesus’ birth was not all tinsel, mistletoe, and carol singing. It occurred amidst considerable inconvenience. Let’s pick up the story …
Luke 2:4-5. Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
Ah, the hassle of having to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem … that’s 157 kilometers! It would have been a multiple day trip, as people walked everywhere at that time in history or occasionally took an Uber donkey. Not only that, the trip was up a steep hill! … and Mary is very pregnant. Ah, the annoyance and the inconvenience.
And Joseph and Mary weren’t even married at this point. Think of the shame and the pain, especially in that culture. Imagine the gossip, the rumors, the talk going on … as they ventured into the public eye. I am sure they would have preferred to be hidden away somewhere.
Let’s keep reading …
Luke 2:6-7. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the hostel.
Jesus was born into a relatively poor, humble peasant family. Not only that, his birth occurred while Joseph and Mary were on the road traveling. How much better it would have been if they were able to be at home.
Then there was no room in the hostel. There must have been crowds of people there. There was no special treatment, privileges, or conveniences for this family. What about Business Class or First Class? Surely, an upgrade? A room with a view!? Don’t people know who they are! Jesus’ very arrival into this world models humility and simplicity. It sure wasn’t easy. It was downright inconvenient.
What a year of inconvenience 2020 has been! Because of The COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to go through multiple lockdowns for many months, the loss of jobs, the closing down of shops and businesses, isolation from family and friends, sickness and even death for some, and churches not able to meet in person.
Who would have thought? It is highly unlikely that this Christmas you have everyone together who you would like to be with. Some of us have family interstate or even overseas. This Christmas feels a little different. Many of us are feeling tired or still recovering from ’emotional claustrophobia’. It hasn’t been an easy year, by any stretch of the imagination.
The First Christmas
It was the same way at the first Christmas. Yet right into that environment of inconvenience, Jesus was born. Immanuel, God with Us, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and the long-awaited Messiah.
Notice two things that come with the arrival of Jesus …
An angel appeared in glory with a huge angelic choir and announced ‘good news’ to some lowly shepherds.
Luke 2:10-11. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.”
I love that phrase, “A great and joyful event, meant for everyone, worldwide.” This was good news about the birth of a child who would change the course of history … for everyone.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you will experience an incredible sense of joy because of Jesus. Joy is very different than happiness. Happiness is based on what ‘happens’ to you. It’s dependent on external circumstances. IF you’ve had a good year, IF everyone is going well for you, IF you are blessed and prosperous …THEN you can be happy.
Joy is very different. It is NOT dependent on circumstances or everything going well for you. It is something you can experience deep inside of you – regardless of what may be happening in your life or the world around you. Joy even in the middle of inconvenience! May you know JESUS JOY today and this season. An inner sense of shalom, well-being, and wholeness.
The second thing that comes with the arrival of Jesus is PEACE.
Luke 2:13-14. At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
Peace is the opposite of strife, tension, or conflict. It is a sense of harmony and well-being. That’s what Jesus came to bring and still does today. My prayer for you this Christmas is that you too will experience an amazing sense of peace in your life – peace with God. the peace of God, and peace with other people around you.
There was no room at the hostel for Jesus on the day he was born (Luke 2:7). May there be room in our hearts and lives for him this Christmas Day. As we welcome him into our lives and world afresh … we can know him personally and experience his JOY and his PEACE, even in the midst of inconvenient circumstances.
That’s my prayer for you today.