Spiritual Thoughts - Dec. 20, 2019

Christmas past, present and future

At this time of year, struggling with credit cards that weigh too much, short days chased by longer nights, and the icy winds that find their way through our coats, most of us enjoy taking refuge with a hot cocoa and a favorite Christmas movie. The struggles of life can sometimes make us forget the joy in living. Cuddled up on the couch watching a Christmas classic reminds us of the things we cherish: family, friends, giving, sharing and the love we so desperately need and long for. Binge-watching Scrooge, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Sound of Music (why is that a Christmas film?) and Miracle on 24th Street can be just what we need to fill us again with hope and give us the energy to keep going.  

Sometimes though it’s the pain, the sorrow, the loss and seemingly hopeless situations that we are living in that leave us with a hollow, empty feeling, a gnawing ache or a deep despair. Christmas movies, feasts and parties are just temporary diversions where – if we are lucky – we might be able to forget, or just push aside, what is weighing on our hearts. 

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It doesn’t have to be tragedy or difficulties though. Life may be good. Still, we might just have an uneasy feeling that there is something more, something we are not quite able to pin point. All the running around spending more than we have and trying to recreate a Norman Rockwell Christmas with our less-than-perfect families may make us wonder: what is life all about and why do we even bother with Christmas? Isn’t it just a story, a fable from another time that has lost its meaning in our modern sophistication where the siren call of consumerism drowns all our senses and sorrows, if only for a moment? 

I think that when we ask Him, God always has a fresh revelation and understanding to show us about Himself and Christmas, even in the stories and verses that may seem so familiar. Each year we take out the Christmas story, dust it off and examine it again. Hopefully we take comfort in its message of hope and new life. Some years though we may examine it further, turn it over, dig a little deeper, search for a meaning as yet undiscovered. Since God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours, His Holy Spirit can reveal to us what was there all along, just waiting for us to seek and find. 

Here is what I saw this year, while searching for the Christ child. 

The birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmastime, is not just about an irrelevant, dusty old past event. When we celebrate and remember the birth of God’s Son, we are celebrating a story that is ALIVE, a story that is still unfolding. A story of promises made and kept. Of prophecies fulfilled and wonders come to pass. A story that weaves itself through the lives of those who truly believe and even those who do not. A story that speaks to prophecies as yet unfulfilled, giving us hope of their coming. A story of a future, a story of hope. A living story, where past events direct the future. A story not yet finished. A story for you and for me. It speaks to our past, our present and our future. Let us celebrate it together and rejoice!!

The Past

The virgin birth is rooted in history. Spoken of by the prophet Isaiah 700 years earlier (Isaiah 53), the coming of the Messiah was anticipated by a nation. The birth of Jesus fulfills the promises and prophecies of history. This shows us today that God is faithful to do what He says. History witnesses to the present and gives us hope that God still keeps His promises. 

The Present

Jesus promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus is with us in our todays. He walks with us in our sorrows, our struggles and joy. He is our strong tower, our refuge, our strength. If there is heartache or sorrow in our Christmas this year, Jesus is with us and when we know this truth, it is possible to be in the storm but not have the storm within us. If we can but grasp even the smallest part of this mystery: that Jesus Christ would sacrifice all that He had to be born as a baby, humbling Himself to live within our finite human limitations, all the while purposing to suffer and die shamefully on a cross.  Just so He could be with you. With me. He cares deeply for us and with this knowledge we can trust that He will make a way for us not only at Christmastime but all year through.   

The Future

He is coming again so that we who believe might be with Him where He is (John 14:3). Where there are no more sorrows (Revelation 21:4) and there is joy unspeakable. Where death is no more and those who died first in Christ are raised to life with us (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17), all united in Him who is our Head. 

This Christmas may we blessed to see that His birth is a miracle that is still unfolding, a story still waiting to be told. Let us make room in our hearts today for the baby born as Christ the Lord. And being born in our hearts, may He grow in us a faith unshakeable and hearts shaped by His love and truth. 

Christ the Lord has come! Merry Christmas to all. 

Julie A. Desjardins has lived in Northern Manitoba for over 10 years and loves to encourage people to grow in their faith. You can contact her by e-mail at gardengirl.2005@hotmail.com.

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