By Bishop Jonathan Holston
To you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, The Lord. ”Luke 2:11
The point of the whole Christmas message is that what we do with our lives matters to Jesus. Christmas is all about Jesus coming to be with us. It is about Immanuel, God with us, looking on! In fact, we can look and see the image of God in Jesus.
Yet over the years, we have developed a bad habit. Often, we look but do not see and hear; we seldom listen. Our problem is that when we hear the Christmas story, it becomes a story almost too familiar. Because we know this story of God s grace so well, it grants us permission not to think about it.
In these days when life is lived at such a fast pace, our days are spent clock-watching and schedule-keeping. We seldom have time to ponder. There are simply too many parties and activities to attend, too many gifts to buy, too many cakes and cookies to bake, too many decorations to hang and too many rooms to clean. Rather than a time of gathering with loving friends and family, Christmas becomes a time of exhaustion. We are so occupied and in a hurry that we do not listen to the story anymore.
The story of Christmas is one of God s love coming down to offer grace, restoration and forgiveness. That probably is as surprising to us as it was to those shepherds who kept watch over their sheep. I am sure their minds were on other things. These shepherds lived a simple life, making just enough to feed themselves and their families. Considered unclean by the priests, they lived outside of the blessings others enjoyed. Therefore, when an angel appeared to them, it surprised them. It caught them preoccupied and busy with other things. The angel s message to these shepherds was to leave their busyness and go with haste to witness to the birth of the Savior. Indeed, it was a time of worship!
While our minds are filled with other thoughts, preoccupied with busy schedules and not always thinking about heavenly things, this Christmas story speaks to us today. Every Christmas, we have the opportunity to pause in the midst of everyday events and remember that the Christ child has been born. It is the story of God s love coming down to offer us grace, restoration and forgiveness.
We have heard the message before. It is timeworn and all too familiar. Such familiarity may put our minds in neutral, but the message of Christmas is that God is with us. In so many ways, God speaks to us and tells us not to be afraid to come and see; you are welcomed and loved.
As we consider the blessings of this Christmas season, let us reflect upon all of the life-changing gifts it brings us; namely, love, joy, hope and peace. Then let s prepare to receive again the best Christmas of all ”God s gift of the Christ child.