What a text for Christmas day! It speaks of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and resonates with the Christmas story, which tells how the Father God sent His Son into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, who did a miraculous and marvellous thing, causing a baby to be conceived by a virgin. That was something way beyond what anyone could ‘’ask or imagine’’ and it has indeed brought glory to God ‘’in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations’’. It continues to do so and will ‘’for ever and ever! Amen.’’ (See 20, 21). If the mystery and wonder of the Christmas story doesn’t get you on your knees (14) in prayerful adoration, I wonder what will?
Today, we remember that God has a ‘’family in heaven and on earth’’ (15), and we thankfully carry in our hearts those who are experiencing the reality that we only dimly realise in our Christmas celebrations here. They see His face (Revelation 22:4).
It also speaks of the ‘’deep, deep love of Jesus’’ (17-19), and I am reminded that ‘’Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, love divine; Love was born at Christmas…’’ Christina Rosetti. God wants us to ‘’know this love’’ (19) even though it is beyond full knowledge. But we do know things about God’s love. We see what it looks like. It looks like Jesus. Would Jesus ever pass by a need that He could meet? Would He fail to give to anyone requiring His help? A self-indulgent Christmas that pulls up the drawbridge and closes out others is ultimately disappointing and self-defeating. I know this for, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been there. I now realise that we cannot celebrate the coming down of love at Christmas without also sharing it. ‘’Love divine, all loves excelling…Fix in us thy humble dwelling…’’ Charles Wesley.
I also realise that for us, Christmas and New Year walk hand in hand. We move seamlessly from the one into the other. We do not know what lies ahead, whether good or bad, but we do know that the same Spirit who made the incarnation possible will strengthen us inwardly for whatever lies ahead (16).
The Christ who came down at Christmas wants to ‘’dwell’’ in hearts by ‘’faith’’ (17). The challenge of the Christmas message is, ‘Will we make room for Him there?’ Or will there be ‘No room’? It’s the abiding, provocative issue raised by this season. The world wants to go to Jesus’ birthday party (in fact, they want to run it; be in charge of proceedings.) But they don’t want Him there. He’d ruin it. Keep Him out back in the cold! It’s a great irony. We see it all around us if we have eyes to see. ‘Christmas begins with Christ.’ But for many people Christmas would not be Christmas for them without Christ being removed. (I understand that the meaning of verse 17 is: ‘’so that Christ may feel at home in your hearts…’’. Will Jesus ‘feel at home’ with the way we are living this Christmas time? And how about every other day of the year? The Holy Spirit has come to enable us to live lives that Christ will feel at home in. See verses 16 and 17a.)
Returning to the thought of (20, 21) once again, here’s a question for Christmas day 2014: ‘’He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’’ (Romans 8:32). David Hill was a missionary to China. David Hill’s father said, ‘’The greatest gift I gave to China was David Hill. After that, everything else was easy.’’
Prayer: Thank you Father God for this most wonderful day. Help me to honour your Son, Jesus, in all I do this day, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Be pleased with my celebration of your birth.