What might the message of Christmas mean to you?

There are many different take-aways from the Christmas message, and here are seven of them as we reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ — the Word made flesh. Which one resonates with you?

1. Jesus wants his presence to change you

Through the person of Jesus, God came into the world with a plan to redeem it, restore it, and renew it, and right from the get-go he transformed those with whom he came in contact. He helped people see what really mattered, called them to action, and gave people a chance to start afresh. Through accepting the life-giving presence of his Holy Spirit. he can redeem, restore, and renew our lives too.

2. Jesus wants to be an anchor in the storms of your life

Jesus was born into a messed up world of violence, pain, and brokenness — a world of chaos, confusion, and messiness. He was born into a time of political turmoil and near rebellion in the Holy Land because the Jewish authorities were collaborating with the brutal, occupying Romans. He helped people find the right path in the turmoil of a morally confusing world, and for us, when it is difficult to tell right from wrong, when we are unable to see clearly, or when we are pulled in different directions, he can be our guide too.

3. Jesus stands with you in your suffering

Jesus shared in the suffering of humanity, and the incarnation was a visible sign that God is not distant and detached but present with us. One of the names for Jesus is Emmanuel which means ‘God with us’ and Jesus shares in our pain and suffering. He was born in a stable, and into a time of brutal military occupation. He escaped the murderous slaughter of Herod’s troops and was forced to flee to Egypt as a refugee. Ultimately, he suffered the most painful and humiliating death. Christians believe in a suffering God and the Jesus of Christmas can be found in the very darkness and wilderness of our own lives — in our physical, mental, and spiritual suffering — in the here and now.

4. Jesus wants you to know that you are not forgotten

God came to earth with neither power, nor the trappings of wealth. He came in the most humble form possible — the child of an unmarried mother and with a builder for a stepdad. Wealth and material possessions had no part in his story, indeed God first took the message of Jesus’ birth not to the rich and powerful but to shepherds — the poorest and most humble in society. The message of Jesus is a message of hope to the poor, the forgotten, and the marginalised. No matter who you are, where you are from, or your social standing, he comes to meet you.

5. Jesus wants you to know that you are invited

The three Wise Men (magi or astrologers) were not just wise, they were Gentiles and not Jews. These outsiders represented the fact that God’s message was not just for the chosen few but for everyone. No matter whether a person believes in Judaism/Christianity or not, Christmas (and Christianity) is for everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe. Everyone is invited to the party, including you. There is no-one that cannot be reached through the love of Jesus Christ.

6. Jesus wants to work through you

God came to us as a tiny baby, utterly dependent on Mary and Joseph. Without their love and commitment Jesus would have died and achieved nothing, and today, God does the same with us. He puts himself in our hands and he acts on this earth only through us, therefore if we do nothing, neither can God. As St. Teresa of Avila put it:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

7. Jesus wants you to celebrate with great joy

Ånd finally, the birth of Jesus was a cause for great celebration. Mary, when she discovered she had been chosen by God to bear the Saviour of the world, burst forth in song. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the choir of angels on the hillside could not help but crash in on the scene and sing for joy. The birth of any child is a reason to celebrate, and we should party even harder at the birth of the Saviour of the World. Perhaps, this Christmas, God wants to fill you with his joy.

Whatever your take-away is this Christmas, may God speak to you and guide you. May you know his transforming grace, his steadfast love, his comforting presence, his embracing welcome, his warm invitation, his selfless power, and his eternal joy. Amen.