Well the Christmas adverts have begun in earnest! I was in a well-known retail establishment yesterday and was flabbergasted to find myself humming along to an equally well known Christmas song! I know we say the same thing every year, but it seems to be getting earlier and earlier doesn’t it?
My youngest son Isaac is almost 4 and after a demanding morning at nursery he sometimes enjoys spending half an hour watching TV when he comes home. During the adverts he is bombarded with images of amazing toys, it’s no surprise that these adverts are usually accompanied by three little words, ‘I want that!’ The adverts seem to be heaping more and more pressure on us to ensure that we have everything ready.
In fact, if we change one letter in the word ‘advert’ we make the word ‘Advent’, traditionally a time of preparing. Not preparing, as some would think, for the festivities and the trappings of Christmas, rather preparing for the coming of the Christ Child – the Messiah.
During the weeks of Advent, can I encourage you to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and to spend time preparing in your heart, taking time to be with God in prayer, in bible reading, in silence, in worship and truly allowing Jesus as one of my favourite carols suggests to ‘Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today’. One thing is certain, spending time with God like this will change us, after all isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
This tiny baby born over 2000 years ago was to change the world for ever. His birth was, and is, the most talked about birth in history. No-one else has ever had the same impact as Jesus.
You see his birth is only part of the story, born into a world of poverty, injustice, unrest and forced to flee from persecution days after his birth, Jesus came into a broken world (a world that might sound very familiar to us!). But He came bringing forgiveness, salvation and restoration. He came to bring reconciliation – why? Because he is Immanuel – God with us. You see, in Jesus, God was reconciling the world to Himself. God came to the world and He came so that we might be saved by Him and reconciled to Him. Which is why the carol states, ‘Joy to the world- the Lord is come!’ The question is do you know Him? And have you experienced this joy?
Back to the adverts and Isaac’s words ‘I want that!’
As the true enormity of Christmas begins to emerge and the truth ‘that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son’ (John 3:16) my prayer is, that the words Isaac so freely utters will be words that become ours. As we look at the life of Jesus and the message he brings – the message of forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation, we too would utter ‘I want that!’
That is what Christmas is all about after all. The greatest gift ever given and it’s the gift of eternal life offered freely to us… but a gift has to be received! So what about you, do you want to receive it? If so, simply invite the Lord into your life, and this Christmas will be the most amazing Christmas ever because for the first time, you will truly understand the ‘reason for the season’!
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.