So this is Christmas, and what have you done?
Another year over…
John Lennon’s song, like all the other seasonal tunes, is regularly played on the radio. But Lennon’s lyric has a little more about it than many of the other offerings (e.g. Roy Wood’s “When the snowman brings the snow…” or the children’s favourite “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer”). It actually challenges us directly to take stock of our lives at Christmas time. You won’t be surprised to know I think it’s a good challenge for us to consider.
But Christmas is too busy for us to think about the events of the year and the emotional impact they’ve had on us, isn’t it? First of all there’s all the shopping to do, all the organising, wrapping, cooking, decorating and hosting. Then, there’s all the clearing up, the falling out, the not-speaking and the thank-God-that’s-all-over-for-another-year-ing. Finally, of course, there’s all the paying back the credit cards… which, depending on how extravagant we’ve been, may well bring us right back to where we are now!
The question, “How are you?” often elicits the response, “Fine, thanks … busy, but fine.” Busy. And the activity of the Christmas season only makes us busier, so stopping to reflect on the emotional journey of the last year is, quite frankly, just one more thing to do for which we do not have the time. And here’s another one…
What have you done this year by way of pursuing a closer relationship with God? (I put that in bold type to make sure you didn’t skip over it in your busy rush!)
The message of Christmas is clear: God chose to come close to us in Jesus. It’s evidence that he is pursuing a closer relationship with all of us. The Bible tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), and, “Jesus Christ … in very nature God … made himself nothing, being made in human likeness, … humbled himself…” (Philippians 2:6ff). It is these verses (and others like them) which inspired one of the most famous and popular carols; “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see!
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
My point is that if we stop even for a moment to consider just how far he has gone to reach out to us (Immanuel means “God with us”), it should surely cause us to respond with love and worship. So how do our efforts to reach out to him measure up?
So this is Christmas, and what have you done…? Praise God he still reaches out to us despite our laziness and reluctance to honour him!