Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Wonder of Christmas - Celebrating the Birth of a Savior and King!

There is no doubt that the Christmas story is filled with wonder and awe. It fills young and old with delight that is even more enjoyable and amazing because it is all true!


Shepherds, at the bottom of the social fabric of that time, were entertained and blessed by a choir of angels that filled the night with glory and hope. Mysterious wise men from the East followed a star that brought them to a manger in Bethlehem, where they presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Then there is the centerpiece of the story; a young couple, probably still teenagers, who were uniquely chosen to bring the Christ-child into the world. They faced a challenge of faith and courage that was undergirded by angelic visitations!


Mary, the young virgin maiden, was with child without ever knowing a man and before marriage; an outward looking scandal by any stretch of the imagination. Then there was Joseph, who had to endure the gossip and “whispering” of a community who knew nothing of the angelic announcement heralding the birth of Jesus.


More sinister still was the plot to kill the child and, by so doing, frustrate the will and purpose of God for world redemption. The Christmas story is truly beautiful, amazing and thought provoking. For Christians, it teaches us:


1. That Christmas is worth celebrating since all of Heaven did so and gave beautiful voice to the wondrous events that were unfolding in Bethlehem. The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke all devote lengthy passages to this story of wonder and great joy. We should do the same.


2. That Christmas is the hope of the world. God became man and did so to save us from our sins and give us a new beginning. The message is ever the same; peace and goodwill to all the world. That is, a peace and goodwill which has to be appropriated individually by repentance and faith in the finished work of the Son of God on the cross.


3. That Christmas has a unique message in the gifts delivered to the Christ-child by the Kings from the East. Gold was a tribute to his identity. He is King of the Jews and the King of Kings of all the world. Frankincense meant his life would be pleasing to God and sinless. And myrrh foreshadowed that he would die for the world and atone for its sins. This is because myrrh was a burial ointment that was used to prepare the body for its final resting place.


4. That Christmas reminds us of a conflict that ever rages over the souls of men. Dark forces were at work on that beautiful, awe inspiring night. They sought to destroy the babe born to Mary and Joseph and thus they ultimately sought the destruction of all of humankind. This battle continues!


We would do well then to gather our families around a beautiful meal on Christmas eve and carefully read this wonderful narrative from the Gospels. Prayers of thanksgiving and joy should ascend to Heaven and sweet carols of years gone by should bathe our souls in the wondrous love of God. We would do well to visit the House of God on Christmas morning and there, together with all the family of God, give thanks for the gift of all gifts that became ours on Christmas Day.


Merry Christmas!


Rev. Malcolm Hedding




Malcolm Hedding is Vice Chairman of the Intenational Christian Embassy Jerusalem and former Executive Director

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