Joy… to the World!
It’s Christmas Eve and I am singing the songs of Christmas. They are wonderful reminders of the powerful truth of the Incarnation of Jesus. God became a man. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Praise His name! Immanuel – God with us!
Yet even as I hear the singers sing that it’s the most wonderful time of the year and joy to the world I remember that this message is delivered into the middle of chaos and suffering and evil. It is delivered to hearts that are hurting – grieving the loss of loved ones that they will never again get to hug at Christmas time.
The headlines from the news only reinforce this darkness. Bank robberies, hijackings, shootings, political division, terrorism – it all reminds us of the incredible pain and suffering and wrong that is present in our world. A three year old senselessly shot in Little Rock, Carrie Fisher’s heart attack, a three year old kept locked in a box – these are the headlines this week from my world. How can it be the most wonderful time of the year?
The songwriters wrote with that thought in the background: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground.” And then there is this, “Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long… two thousand years of wrong And man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife to hear the angels sing.” Yes, the songwriters lived in the middle of this mess just as we do.
Yet the secular message of Christmas without Christ has no antidote to offer for the anger and pain and hatred and bitterness and envy and greed and corruption. There are those who would say, “Just be good for goodness sake!” But that message falls flat when people simply cannot do it. And we can’t. As much as we may want to do it we don’t have the power to be the person that we want to be. That’s why Jesus came.
That’s why Charles Wesley included the line “God and sinners reconciled” in Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The whole point of Christmas is that God has made a way for us to be at peace with God. “I bring you good news of great joy that shall be to all people! For unto you is born this day in the city of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” Christmas is a wonderful time of year because it is the time that God shows us how very much He loves each and every one of us.
The birth of Jesus prepares and leads us through His life right up to the climactic moments of His death, burial and resurrection. He is the ultimate expression of God’s love and concern for a lost and rebellious race of people. His death is the proof of God’s love. He loves you.
Jesus – “The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:9–12, HCSB)
Jesus has come “as far as the curse is found.” Joy to the world!
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is born…” Christmas is not about those who have it all or are immeasurably happy. It is about “us” – all of us. Jesus came for every one of us. I hope you will receive Him today.
Pastor Tim Hobbs