By Bishop Jonathan Holston
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town do David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’”—Luke 2:10-11
Over the years we have developed a bad habit. Our problem is that we have become so familiar with the Christmas story that we no longer even stop to consider what it really means.
Our days are lived at such a frantic pace that clock-watching and schedule-keeping become orders of the day. We are preoccupied and in a hurry and do not really listen to the story anymore. We seldom have time to think and ponder.
It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of making ends meet that we have a hard time imagining God could possibly make a difference in our world. Truthfully, many of us struggle to see God amid the desolate headlines. Many more wonder where God is amid their own personal private pain of broken relationships, lost loved ones, loneliness, job loss and depression.
Maybe it is for that very reason that we are challenged to tell the story once again so that it seeps into the unseen places of our soul, the places where the world’s darkness seems more prominent than the light.
The Christmas story was made to shine light in dark places, to bring hope to the discouraged, joy to the lost, unconditional love to the lonely and the promise of peace to all who long for it. We are reminded that the Gospel has always been set amid world events as a promise that God works among the seemingly small and insignificant to change the world. The message of Christmas is one of God’s love coming down to save, to restore and to forgive.
During this time of preparing to receive Jesus into our lives again, the Advent wreath and its symbolism serves as a reminder that Christmas is all about Jesus coming to be with us. The wreath is round, with no beginning or end, testifying to God’s unending love and grace. The wreath’s greenery serves as a reminder that our faith, hope and love is alive in God’s love. The candles, representing the four Sundays of Advent, remind us of the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love that Jesus brings to us. The Christ candle reminds us again and again that, even in the midst of the world’s darkness, Jesus is the light of the world.
Even though our minds are filled with other thoughts, preoccupied with schedules and not always thinking about heavenly things, this Christmas story speaks to us.
It is the story of God’s love coming down to save, to restore and to forgive. The Christmas message is all about Jesus coming to be with us.