Viewpoint from Rev Derrick Hill 24/12/09
Rev Derrick Hill
Pastor, Park Baptist Church
It’s Christmas Eve!
Cards have been written, sent and received with joyful messages.
Presents have been purchased and wrapped
Food and drink have been stocked up
The shops are winding down for one of those truly rare times of closure.
In the churches, Christmas readings have been heard; carols have been sung
Preparations for Christmas Day have been made
Christmas Day itself has many traditions:
Children watch, wide eyed, to see what Santa has brought;
Churches resound with joyful song;
All but essential services stay closed;
People gather in family or friendship groups for their Christmas Turkey dinner;
Many watch our Queen’s Christmas Message;
Games are played;
TV schedules fight for our attention;
A sleepiness engulfs the nation as we enter a period of rest through to the New Year.
But all this begs the question as to what is the essence of Christmas?
For some it is little more than a winter holiday, timed to coincide with the shortest, darkest days of the year but signifying the hope of a new beginning as the days start to lengthen again.
Christians want to take this further and take the opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ the Saviour, that event which divides our time into BC and AD with all the hope that Jesus brought to a new era;
I want to endorse both of these elements – and yet also emphasise a third!
You see, the Bible at Matthew 1.23 saw Christmas in these terms:
“The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel
which means “God with us”
Yes, Christmas means “God with us”. That same God who drove sinful mankind from His presence in the Garden of Eden – and who later drove His rebellious people into exile in Babylon – has now taken the steps required to restore our relationship with Him!
Jesus summarised God’s requirements in just two commandments – that we love God and love our neighbour – emphasising that relationships, both between people and between us and God, are the most important part of human existence. Family and friendship gatherings at Christmas symbolise the closeness that God wants us to have with one another and also with Him – not just at Christmas but every day.
Christmas tells us that God has reached out to restore our relationship – and we have the chance to respond. Let’s take it!