Christmas is a special time of the year. The preparations begin weeks before; there is a long list of things to be done.
Cards and presents are to be bought, decorations and Christmas trees put up. There are school concerts and carol services. There is food to be bought and cooked; time with the family; and, for parents with young children, an early start on Christmas day!
It’s no wonder we can feel very tired. But after it’s over, what remains? When the food has been eaten, the family have gone home and the decorations have been taken down, what stays with us as life returns to normal?
Christmas is about Jesus. The person who is at the very centre of Christmas is the One who remains with us through all the experiences of life. He’s the One who can make a real difference to our lives.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, an angel announced his birth to shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them: ‘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 Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’.
Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests’.
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’. So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.
Like the shepherds, why not, in our hearts, ‘go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened’? The birth of Jesus is indeed good news and brings great joy to all who receive him as Saviour. He is the Prince of Peace. Through him we are reconciled to God, and to each other, and know a deep and lasting peace in our hearts.
Peter Milsom is chairman of the Associating Evangelical Churches in Wales