It was a morning in as far back as August, during my weekly grocery shop, that I first noticed them. Whilst I was shocked initially, it quickly became apparent to me just how much hope they represent and hope is something that, to some, has felt in little supply this year. Christmas decorations as far as the eye could see. First sanitise, then pick your trolley or basket and then negotiate your first steps around the grand and colourful display of lights, tinsel, trees and stockings. Small children were smiling and admiring the sparkles and their faces were alit with excitement, even if Christmas Day was still months away.
In that moment, on that cold and otherwise normal day (the date of which none of us knew anymore), I felt as though I had stepped out of a parched land and into the river. Perhaps that is dramatic. Or perhaps that is spot-on in describing the very real harshness that has been 2020 thus far. Whilst I have not prescribed to the wishing away of 2020 or the language of discouragement, I have absolutely felt the loss of time, the laying down of dreams and the stretch of being homebound… even if I am a homebody. It is okay to admit upset and sorrow and to have discovered real weakness, but it has always felt important to keep a language of hope so alive and present on my lips. We do not do this to trick ourselves into false joy but rather because we know and live in the confidence of The One who will.never.forsake.us or leave us hopeless.
Our joy is made perfect when our hearts and our lives and our plans and the places we put our feet are yielded to Him first and not to the dictation of the day or the latest news feed. Jesus is absolute in his promises, magnificent in power and fierce in his love. The enemy deployed fear in the truckloads this year and worked especially hard, long hours to keep us down… but God.
He is the lifter of our heads, the loudest voice in our lives and, very importantly, He is our salvation. We have needed His touch, His presence and His voice to be MUCH in our every day and though she does not truly know the meaning for it, the world does need its Christmas holiday. It offers a fundamental reprieve that to some, can only be described as a happy distraction.
The Christmas spirit is far more than a happy distraction. The Christmas spirit is the same spirit available to all and any who call upon the name of our Saviour. Whether the birth of Jesus is recognised or not, everyone around the festive table knows why we celebrate Christmas. There is an urgency, a deep desire in my heart, and I hope in yours too - to tell the world again about this great King who loves them. There is a coming in the opposite spirit that God wants to do through us this season. He wants the manifold wisdom and joy of Christ to be the real feast around the table this year, and that charge starts with us, the believer and the light. This is a thrilling time to be alive because the church and her voice need to be heard among the streets, the schools, the workplace and the Christmas tree.
I loved my shopping experience on that morning in August. It sparked in me a revival of the hope to which I confess. I was grateful for it. Encouraged and reminded again.
Mock as they may, Jesus IS the reason for the season and every season before and every season to come. The hard ones, the great ones and every leap and setback in between. He is always present. He has won the battle and is the victorious one. May your 2020 land firm on the feet of that revelation. Oh He is good!
Ang Keyter is wife to Anton Keyter and together they have 3 champion sons: Gabriel, Roman and Kingston. Ang is infectiously joyful, unmasked in her approach to life and a bold communicator. The community that she and hubby lead is called UpperRoom church which meets in Sandton, Johannesburg and they also serve on an international team of apostolic church leaders, ministering worldwide. Their desire is to build family with the people God entrusts them to lead, intending always to know each person by name. Ang writes from her heart, from that deeply vulnerable and true place and is most alive when she gets to share truth with others. Freedom and revival burn in her heart.