Why, in 2019, do we still celebrate Christmas?
In Australia, the Christmas season is also the culmination of many things. There’s the end of the school and university year, the beginning of Summer (although that seems to be coming earlier each year) and the arrival of holidays.
So maybe we celebrate Christmas because it means time off from work and study, time for rest and refreshment. Maybe we celebrate because it’s the one time we can catch up with friends and family. Those are all excellent reasons to celebrate. Throw into the mix a fabulous meal or two, great wine, loved ones and we’re living the dream.
But is there more to it than that? As fabulous as all these things are, is there something more to this time of year? I’m excited to participate in all of the above and if someone wants to buy me a gift, bring it on, but I think there’s an even deeper reason to rejoice and delight at Christmas.
The back-story of Christmas involves the birth of a boy in impoverished circumstances to (soon-to-be) refugee parents. On the other side of the world. More than 2,000 years ago. A strange cause for rejoicing perhaps.
But what if that child was more than just a baby?
Christians believe that baby was the son of God. It’s a phrase that rolls off the tongue, but give it a moment’s thought. The divine became human.
Jesus was known as God with Us, Mighty Saviour, Prince of Peace. And he defied all expectations.
A poor man, living in an occupied land under an oppressive government. A man who attracted the attention of the powerful and important but chose to be with the marginalised and outcast.
Jesus came, not with riches and force but with wisdom and love. And an offer. “Come to me,” he said. “And I will give you rest.” He looked into the human heart and showed us that our deepest need is God.
Christmas is the embodiment of God’s interest in us. It’s a reminder that God cares about our broken hearts and damaged world. He cared enough to enter into it. And to shepherd us to himself.
Jesus didn’t come to live a good life. He came to give us true life. That’s why I’m celebrating.
Here at All Saints, we’ll be rejoicing as we reflect on this. And we’d love you to join us. So crack open the champers, put up the tree, wrap the pressies but don’t miss out on the best reason to celebrate this Christmas.
Sarah Barnett is a member of the 10.30 Congregation at All Saints.