A Christmas letter for families and guests
Trinity United Church – 2017
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree
that a census should be taken
of the entire Roman world.” (Luke 2)
And so begins the story we know and love so well: Mary and Joseph on the way to Bethlehem because of the Roman census, the Inn that had no room for them, the stable that witnessed the birth of the Saviour, and the Shepherds in the field keeping watch when the angel interrupts their usual routine with the words, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
In a culture ever increasingly devoid of deep connection with the original Christmas story, we might be led to despair and worry that the real meaning of Christmas is lost or overlooked. But, if you look at the original story, that’s what happened in the first place. The birth of Jesus did not make anybody’s top 10 list of special events that year (except of course for the Magi, aka, the 3 kings, and even they kept the news mostly to themselves). But here we are, still celebrating and singing and sharing in this special season.
Why? What captured our attention in the first place? How did we get from the birth of a babe in the backwater town of Bethlehem to something that continues to capture the attention of billions of people? Something profound and significant and wonderfully unique lies at the heart of our Christmas story that still interrupts our normal routine.
It’s the simple truth that reaches into the desperate need of our world, a world so often overcome with violence and hurt and sorrow, with the simple message “you matter to God.” And you matter so much, God loves you so much, that God came to this world in Jesus Christ to live and die for that truth. In the midst of whatever or wherever you find yourself at this time of year, celebrating greatest joy or seeking to survive deepest pain, God will not abandon you! Nothing can break God’s deep love for you. Nothing we do, nor anything that life throws our way, can break the love revealed in Jesus!
Christmas is the celebration of God with us in Jesus, who lived so we could live, who died so we could be forgiven, and who lives again so we can all know God’s love. The real meaning of Christmas? You matter! You are loved with a love so deep and so broad and so strong that nothing can destroy that love for you! So, let the angels sing, ‘Joy to the World!’
The shepherds were minding their own business when the angel interrupted their normal routine with the amazing news, “to you is born this day a Saviour”. May our normal routines be interrupted with this same Good News! Christ is born! Our Saviour is near! And he shall lead us in hope, and we shall be filled with all peace in believing, and love will reign forever!
The Reverend MARK ARNILL