“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”- this poignant line from my favorite Christmas carol, “O Holy Night” is so fitting for our world this Christmas of 2020. In the midst of a global pandemic which has brought anxiety, loss, political unrest, fractures of relationships and lives - along comes an opportunity in the month of December to remember the hope that exists. This opportunity always exists at Christmas. This year the hope of Christmas rings with particular expectation.
Christmas doesn’t carry with it a magical power in and of itself. Yet, when we deliberately notice and focus on the reality of what it celebrates - we see that the birth of Jesus, the coming of God to the world, does indeed carry with it the power to change everything about our lives and existence - to change the world we touch every day.
2000 years ago the first Christmas changed everything. God said to the world, “I am with you.”
In the celebration of Christmas we carry that eternal change into the present. God still says to the world in the midst of all the 2020 crazy, “I am with you.”
Christmas is an opportunity to receive the gift of Jesus freshly - to focus on Him, to let our roots go deeper into Him, to acknowledge His presence in our lives and to center our lives on Him again. Christmas is an invitation to say “yes” to God, just as Mary did.
We read in Luke chapters 1 and 2 of Mary, the mother of Jesus. When the angel came to Mary to tell her that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and she would conceive the Savior, she was in awe and she had questions, but her response was to say, “yes” to God. Mary said, “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Christmas is a Gift to Give
Mary then carried Jesus and allowed Jesus to be delivered to the world through her, which is the same calling we still have today: to carry Jesus in our lives and reveal Him to the world around us. What an awesome purpose to give our lives to!
This Christmas season and during this period of your life, how can you say, “yes” to God? How can you receive more of the life of Christ into your being - your life, your home, your time and your work? How does God want to reveal Jesus to the world through you?
Christmas is an opportunity to be with others in the same way that Jesus came to be with us. Even if you choose to not physically gather this year, there are ways to show our neighbors and loved ones that we are with them - that we not only empathize, but we see them, love them and are committed to them. Perhaps through a meal or a gift shared, a prayer together, an expression of appreciation, or the meeting of a need in someone’s life, you can demonstrate to them “God with us.”
With each passing year I become more appreciative of Christmas, of Jesus coming, and of the opportunity to celebrate Him! I also become more aware every year of the invitation God extends to each of us to carry His heart, His Son to the world. It’s true that these opportunities exist every day. At any moment in the year we can receive, experience and give the amazing love and grace of God. And yet, there is a special awareness of this opportunity at Christmas time.
So, I won’t let this season pass by - especially this year - without taking the opportunity to welcome Jesus’ presence, to remember that He came to us and that He comes to us still. I will say “yes” to every invitation Christmas gives for love, for the birth of new things, for that renewed thrill of hope that our world so desperately needs.
Paul & Minda Nichols and their two sons planted Border City Church in Detroit, Michigan in 2016. Before returning to the USA they lived in South Africa for eight years and led Sandton City Church (now Upper Room Church) for five of those years. They serve on the New Covenant Ministries International (NCMI) team.
Minda encourages others to grow their capacity through their relationship with God, His Word, His Spirit and practical steps of faith. She enjoys coffee dates with Paul, chats with her boys, good food with friends and traveling experiences with her family as they’ve served Jesus and His Church.