Summary: A Christmas Eve Communion reflection on The Reality of Christmas, The Hope of Christmas and The Miracle of Christmas.
Christmas is a time of celebration.
Even those who do not believe in the birth of Jesus still take the time to enjoy themselves at Christmas.
I was born into a Jewish family, yet we always celebrated Christmas. We had a Christmas Tree, we had Christmas Decorations, we sent and received Christmas Cards, we ate Christmas Dinner and we got Christmas Gifts.
But my parents never mentioned the real reason for Christmas. Growing up, as far as I was concerned, Jesus was no more than a picture of a baby on a Christmas Card. Christmas was a celebration of Santa Claus not the birth of Christ. I was a Jew, I was waiting for the Messiah to come, no one thought to tell me He had already come. No one told me that the Saviour of the World had been born and that Christmas was a celebration of His birth, His birthday. Although Christmas was full of celebration it was empty of any association with Christ Jesus.
Sadly, that is a fact for so many in the world today, they experience a Christmas without Christ. They may have a very happy Christmas by the worlds standards but do not understand the real reason for the season.
I have three brief points for us to consider this evening:
The Reality of Christmas, The Hope of Christmas and The Miracle of Christmas
The Reality of Christmas
The Reality of Christmas is that Christ has come, the Messiah has been born. Stepping out of eternity and into the form of a human baby, God has come. As Charles Wesley put it in his Hymn Let earth and Heaven combine: The incarnate Deity,Our God contracted to a span, Incomprehensibly made Man.
Christ has come. At the right time Christ came.
Church tradition says we remember the birth of Christ on the 25th of December. The reality is Jesus was probably born in March or April - neither shepherds or their sheep would have been out in the fields in the deep mid-winter. The actual specific day and date of the birth of Jesus are not important, what is important is that we believe His birth really happened.
On an actual day and date lost to history The Reality of Christmas actually took place. Whether it was in the bleak mid-winter or in spring or during the heat of summer or during autumn, Christ was born. We know it was in the evening, we know it was in Bethlehem, and we know it happened in the stable where the animals were kept. That is where the Son of God was born.
The Reality of Christmas happened, not in a palace or a hospital or where anyone writing a story would have used for a suitable venue.
The Reality of Christmas took place in a dirty, smelly stable. You know there is an important message in this, no place is too common for Jesus, no circumstance beneath Him.
The Hope of Christmas
Maybe the first Christmas was very different from what Mary had hoped for.
The journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not an easy one, even for a person in peek physical fitness it could take its toll. For a woman who was nine months pregnant that journey would have been a nightmare.
Maybe Mary had hoped Joseph would have been able to find them somewhere nice for them to stay when they reached Bethlehem.
Maybe she had hoped there would be someone to assist in the birth.
Maybe she had hoped for a comfortable bed rather than a bed of straw.
Whatever Mary had hoped for I’m sure the moment Jesus was born, Mary knew Jesus was worth everything she had endured.
Listen to the opening words of the Christmas carol by Philip Brooks:
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight - those words could have been the prayer and praise in Mary’s heart that night.
The Hope of Christmas shows us that we can place our hope and faith and trust in God. Do you need to be reminded of this tonight?
Remember Romans 8:28 tells us, God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
When Christ was born, so was our hope. Because Christ came, God is always near us. He is always for us and always in us.
Jesus understands what you feel and He knows what you face.
We have a hope that’s steadfast and certain, God can use times of difficulty and struggles in our lives to accomplish His will and purpose.