I chose some Christmas cards this year because I liked the bright, sparkly colours and design, but what was really special were the words on the front: ‘God’s Gift to us through Jesus: Peace, Hope, Joy, Love, Light.’
I began to think about the many people in the world who get excited about the colours, the lights, the sparkle, and glitter of Christmas, but who probably wouldn’t have chosen these cards because the words wouldn’t hold any real meaning for them. How sad that, if you haven’t received the Light of the World into your life, you might not even be aware that He is the One whom all those sparkly Christmas lights and decorations symbolise.
But what about us? It is possible, even for us as Christians, to go through the motions of Christmas, putting up lights, wrapping gifts and attending our church services without experiencing a real depth of joy and gratitude bubbling up from the core of our being.
Perhaps, for some of us, that’s because, while we are so familiar with the story of the first Christmas and have celebrated it many, many times at church, and in our homes, over the years, there are still deep recesses in our hearts where we have never truly received the Gift of God to us. Perhaps joy doesn’t bubble up, because there are areas deep inside where we are still living in the land of deep darkness, where Jesus’s Light hasn’t yet dawned and there is still inner turmoil, and we don’t know Him as Prince of Peace.
Thankfully, He understands how we so often hide away the messy things we find so hard to face in our lives and focus on the external. And He understands that the bright, shiny outside often doesn’t match up to the heartache, loneliness, fears, and insecurities lurking in the shadowy recesses inside. And, with great compassion, He who came as the Light, to shine in the darkness of the whole world, patiently awaits our invitation to come into those dark, messy places of the inside track of our lives.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, let’s dare to ask Him to shine His Light into our innermost being and reveal to us anything we have tried to hide away from Him. And let’s dare to invite Him into those corners of our hearts, to bring His cleansing, His comfort and healing.
Let’s determine to open our hearts and the palms of our hands to Him to receive His most precious gifts of peace, hope, joy, love, and light into the deepest places inside, as never before. Then we will celebrate as never before, not simply going through the motions, but with all that He has imparted to us bursting forth in gratitude and awe at that divine encounter with Him which changes everything.
And when we hear the familiar passage of Isaiah chapter 9:2-7 this Christmas, we will be able to say with full conviction, “Yes and Amen! I am one who was walking in darkness, but the Light of the World came in with His comfort, and His abundant life. He is my Counsellor. He is the mighty God who broke the yoke of oppression in my life. He is my loving Father for ever and ever. He is the One who has brought me true peace as never before, peace that will never, ever end!
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