When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)
If there is one thing that has struck me afresh this year with Christmas, it is that it is a story of travellers. Of Mary and Joseph who would travel to Bethlehem to fulfil the prophesy of where the Messiah would be born. Of travelling Wise men following a star seeking a King. Even Angels travelling from Heaven to bring the good news. The shepherds leaving their flocks to go and seek the baby that the angel told them about. And of a God that would travel to earth to become a baby.
We are all travellers too. Travelling through life seeking an encounter with God. Maybe this Christmas you are seeking the joy that comes from Jesus. You might need from Him the peace that passes all understanding, the everlasting hope that only He can provide. Or maybe this year you wish for a fresh revelation of the love that Jesus has for you.
As we journey towards Christmas Day, and as each day we journey with God, may you find in Jesus what your heart needs.
Life is busy and often all go. But several times a day, I have an “enforced” rest. A time when I sit, holding my little baby in my arms for his bottle. It is in these precious times that we will look into each other’s eyes. I’ll whisper words of love to him, share dreams and hopes. It’s an intimate moment.
It reminds me in some ways of the traditional Maori greeting, the Hongi. This is the pressing of one’s nose and forehead to another person at an encounter, a time of greeting. The Hongi is the exchange of the ha, the breath of life. A sacred ritual that from its action causes two people to share breath.
For us Christians, this breath of life is the promise of Christ. That in our hardest times, in our times of weariness or waiting, in our times when we are acutely aware of our weakness, God is there with us. Sharing our breath, sharing our pain. But also bringing His Light, bringing His strength, bringing His Spirit.
This Christmas may we know the breath of Heaven anew. That God would bring His light to our darkness and would be forever near.
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
“Just then, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the City of David a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:9-11)
Great joy! That’s what the birth of Jesus brings! It is the unfolding of God’s plan for our redemption. For all people. Not just the wise, not just the nobility or the rich. All people. The hardworking shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. It included them. The Wisemen from different lands, it included them. It includes all of us.
As we sing in our Kiwi carol Te Harinui, this is the great and glorious word! That God would come to earth to make a way for us to call Heaven home. To entrust us with the gift of His Son.
Te Harinui translates from Maori as “The Big Happy”. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate translation! Christmas is a time to celebrate, to remember with great joy God’s gift to us. This is definitely big Happy news!
‘Once in our world a stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.’ (C.S. Lewis)
I love words. If I could collect words as much as I apparently collect handbags I would! But sometimes our English language lets us down. It just doesn’t do justice to what we’re trying to convey.
In this second week of Advent I find that to be very much the case with the word peace. When we read that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, that the angels proclaimed at His birth “Peace on Earth” we can be forgiven for thinking of hippies doing the peace sign and assume it only means an end to war, an end to disturbance.
But it goes much deeper than that. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. And Shalom also means harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity.
I don’t know about you but I think I need quite a lot of that in my life! Yes to peace! Yes to wholeness! Yes to prosperity! And as my boys are soon to finish school for the summer, yes to some times of tranquillity in the weeks ahead!
So my friends, Shalom, Shalom to you and your household!
I’ve been feeling rather undone by Christmas this year. As I listen to carols playing I have found tears easily springing to my eyes. The familiar words so joyous, so glad have been wrecking havoc on my spirit. You see this year I got a little broken, my heart’s a little more fragile, a little more vulnerable. Grief has visited. Worry and fear have oft crouched at my door.
But my tears aren’t in sadness. They are a response to a deeper awareness of my need for Emmanuel – God with us. That I need the Prince of Peace in my every day living, all my days. The carols remind me, remind us of the hope, the joy, peace and love that is found in Christ. And as the carols sing of the promise of Jesus, I know that we live in the reality of that promise. That God is with us. That Jesus has come.
This year may have held its hard days, but they were not dark. For the promised Light of the World shone His light into my darkness. Brought joy when mine was gone. Jesus has displaced fear with His love, despair with His hope and left peace where there should have been none.
So while I may continue being a little teary this Christmas it is only because my heart is joining with the angels declaring “Glory to God in the highest!”