This Christmas, many of us are looking forward to celebrating with our friends and family – in contrast to last year when planned reunions had to be cancelled and Christmas was a much quieter occasion. In our Benefice churches we are really looking forward to welcoming people to Carol Services, Crib Services and all our usual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Communion Services. This is the time of year when we hear once more the well-loved story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of their special baby.
But, of course, this isn’t where the story ends – this is just the beginning. John’s Gospel doesn’t tell us anything about the birth in a stable, the shepherds, angels or wise men. But it does tell us that God loved us so much that he gave us his Son, that Jesus loves us so much that he willingly left behind his heavenly home to live among us a human being – sharing with us the joys and sorrows of human existence.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16
In this verse we find the very heart of the Christmas story – Jesus – God’s generous gift to us. John doesn’t tell us HOW Jesus came to earth: he tells us WHY Jesus came to earth – to give everyone the opportunity to know him as our Lord and Saviour. Jesus came to save us from our sins; from the things that prevent us from loving God and loving others. He came to show us a better way to live .He came to draw us into a relationship with God as our loving, forgiving, Father. Jesus came to offer us the gift of new life – here and now with him as our companion and our guide – and he promise of eternal life when we shall be with him for ever. All we have to do is to believe in him, to ask him into our lives and to put our trust in him in him.
This Christmas, as we celebrate Christ’s coming into our world, may we enjoy the carols, the nativity plays, and the company of those we love, may we also be drawn ever nearer to the one who really is at the heart of Christmas, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Then let us all with one accord Sing praises to our heavenly Lord, Who hath made heaven and earth of naught, And with his blood mankind hath bought. Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel.