It really does not feel like it was that long ago that we were making plans for Christmas 2018, but that was last year. My wife and I had just moved across to North Wales, our son was just in the throes of getting used to his first term in school. We had lots of expectation, lots of hope, lots and lots to look forward to.
In my mind’s eye, I can still vividly see all the bright Christmassy lights that decorated the town of Llandudno, especially the pier. It was mesmerising and it was entirely unusual to us as a family to be approaching the Christmas season and, at the same time, to be hanging out near the sea.
I think, more than I had done for quite a while, I approached last Christmas with a sense of anticipation and excitement. The main reason for that excitement was because we knew Christmas was going to feel very different.
I have that same sense of anticipation and excitement this year too.
I recently read a quote from one of my personal spiritual heroes, Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones (all the greats come from Wales):
“The doctrine of the incarnation asserts that our Lord took unto Himself a full human nature. It was not merely partial, it was complete. He did not merely take a body to Himself. He took on Him complete human nature, body and soul, including spirit, that He was truly man… We stand before this mystery of godliness, God in the flesh! The strangest, the most amazing thing that has ever happened. It is so supreme that I expect it to be unusual in every respect, and I find the Scriptures tell me that it was. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, He was born of a virgin named Mary. Man was entirely excluded; It was entirely the work of God.“
Sometimes I think we can get too caught up in the festivities of the season. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the colourful lights, great food, doing the school carol concerts and all that stuff. In fact, seeing my son dressed up in a cow onesie last year will live long in the memory. But what we must never allow to happen is to lose sight of the real reason for the season.
That Jesus Christ, Son of God, God Himself, would come to live with humanity. That He would not only be God living among us, but that He would also be entirely human Himself. That He would do this because it was the only way any of us could be rescued, forgiven, healed and set free from Satan’s vice-like grip on our lives.
Well, that takes my anticipation and excitement to an entirely different level.
I have been a Christ-follower for a good number of years now. I tell you this: I still find the Gospel story ‘unusual in every respect’. I have never got used to the act that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, placed that level of value on my soul and on the souls of every other person in history.
You may well have heard these verses many, many times before but let me share them with you one more time:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.“
John 3:16-17 (ESV)
My hope for every one of us during this Christmas season is this, that we may have clarity of sight that shows us just how much we all need Jesus Christ. When any of us looks back over the course of 2019 and we see all the difficulties and challenges we have had to face or when we think over the losses, the heartbreaks and the hurts, may we then understand that we can only break the enemy’s vice-like grip on our lives through the power of Jesus Christ’s incarnation. That very same incarnation that then led to His crucifixion and ultimately His resurrection and eternal victory over sin, death and all forms of condemnation.
The true wonder of Christmas is this: in Christ we have been utterly set free and that the new, spiritual, birth that we receive as a gift from Him will never be taken away from us. We will have new life for all eternity.
Now, I do acknowledge that we live in a very broken world, and even as Christians we do experience the same tough times as everyone else. But, this is the true Christmas message; there is another life after this one and God wants us to spend both this life and the one to come with Him.
May I humbly recommend that if you have never known this freedom in Christ, that you use this Christmas season to attend a local church, or find a Christian friend who can help you know Him personally. It will genuinely be the best Christmas gift you will ever have had or ever will have.
If you want any help with any of the above please do reach out to the CVM team