Soon, it will be Christmas. It’s a very special time of year. What is it that makes Christmas special? It’s Jesus who makes Christmas special. Jesus is a very special Person. There’s no-one more special than Jesus. If Christmas is going to be special for us, we must see that it’s all about Jesus – nothing else, no-one else, only Jesus, always Jesus.
Jesus’ birth was a very special birth. He was no ordinary child. He was the Son of God. He still is the Son of God. He loves us with a very special love. It’s the greatest love of all. It’s the love that reaches out to us. It’s the love that comes to us from heaven. It’s the love that never comes to an end. It’s the best love. It’s the love of God: “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son …” (John 3:16).
We read, in the Bible, about the first Christmas. We read about Mary and Joseph, shepherds and wise men – but Christmas is not really about any of them. It’s about Jesus. We learn from Mary and Joseph. We learn from the shepherds and the wise men. What do we learn from them? We learn about how special Jesus is. We do not say, “Mary is special.” We do not say, “Joseph is special.” We do not say, “The shepherds are special.” We do not say, “The wise men are special.” We say, “Jesus is special.” In the Christmas story, Mary has her place, and Joseph has his place. The shepherds have their place, and the wise men have their place. None of them can take the place of Jesus. Without Jesus, there is no Christmas.
In the season of Advent (the four Sundays, leading up to Christmas), we look forward to Christmas. We count down the days. Before the first Christmas, there had been a much longer time of waiting. It wasn’t waiting for weeks. It was waiting for centuries. People must have wondered, “Had the waiting gone on for too long?” Then, at His chosen time, God sent His Son, Jesus, to be our Saviour (Galatians 4:4-5). Some people say, “All of this happened such a long time ago. What does it have to do with us?” The Christmas story may be an old story, but it is still God’s story for us. It’s the story of our Saviour.
After Advent, there is Christmas. After the time of waiting, there’s the time of celebration. What do we celebrate? Is Christmas no more than a winter festival? Or is there more to it than that? There is more – much, much more? There’s Jesus! What do we have without Jesus? – We “have winter, but no Christmas.” There is a better way than “winter, but no Christmas.” There’s the way of “Christmas in my heart” (Mission Praise, 107). What makes the difference between winter and Christmas? – It’s Jesus who makes the difference.
One week after Christmas, we move out of the old year and into the New Year. We put the past behind us. We press on into the future. Is it just a change of year – 2018 becomes 2019? – No! There’s something more than that. God is calling us to leave our past behind us. He’s calling us to step out, with Him, into His future. What will the New Year hold for us? – No-one knows – no-one but God. There may be surprises for us, but there are no surprises for Him. Whatever 2019 brings our way, we can be sure of this: God will be there, waiting for us. He will be there – to give us the strength that we need.
Christmas is just around the corner. The New Year is just around the next corner. We can’t look around the corners – and see what’s waiting there for us. Sometimes, we may wish that we could – but we can’t. There’s only one thing we can do – and it’s the best thing we could ever do. We can commit ourselves and our future to the Lord. We can ask Him to lead us in His way – and we can follow in His footsteps, in the footsteps of His love. There may be hard times ahead of us, but we will not face them on our own. We will face them with God – and that is enough for those who put their trust in Him.
May God bless you during Advent, at Christmas and in the New Year.