In the previous Newsletter, I reflected on the Advent Wreath, its significance, and the significance of the candles that will be lit over the weeks running up to Christmas. We are now in the season of Advent.

One of the main messages of Advent is that of hope. It is impossible to fully encapsulate this message of hope in this short article. However, these are a few ‘useful steps’ that I hope may be helpful to you as you reflect more deeply on Christmas and its meaning for us all.

We read in the Old Testament that the prophet Isaiah foretold:  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Hundreds of years later, the angel Gabriel appeared to a young woman called Mary and said to her:  “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

When this baby was born, the “Angel of the Lord” appeared to shepherds who were watching over their sheep in the fields and said:  “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

When I talk to our students, I encourage them not to look at Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and other events around ‘story of God’ in isolation, and by read separate chapters of the Bible without reference to the others. What we need to do is read the whole book and put the events into their context. Christmas is not simply a cute story of a baby born over 2000 years ago.  It is far more significant than that. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming towards him, he said:  “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

At the end of Jesus’ life, whilst he was hanging on the cross, “… the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54)

This is the gift of Christmas; Jesus, the promised Messiah (Saviour.)  What a gift this is to us all; to people often coping with the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Jesus himself pointed us to what is to come in the future.  “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Mark 13:26-27)

For some, that will be the “Hallelujah” moment. For others, it will be a spine-tingling moment of realisation!  I encourage you all to reflect deeply on this wonderful and hugely significant event of Christ-mas.

May God richly bless you and your families this Christmas!

Rev Dave