We feel blessed, once again this year, to share in the party we call Christmas. It’s amazing how almost everyone is touched by the cultural impact of the original story of Christmas—the birth of Jesus to an ordinary young woman of Nazareth in Israel about 2025 years ago. What a delight to join with millions around the world who truly believe that this one born of Mary in such a humble and miraculous way was none other than the Lord from heaven, the Messiah, the King of all kings, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world.
Though the world-wide celebration itself is a strong testimony to the validity of the original story, it is the biblical account which is the most interesting and reliable explanation of this event. Like the natural world that surrounds us, the Christmas story implies that there is indeed a plan amid the chaos of the world. And if the story of the New Testament concerning Jesus is true, the experience of hope, love, joy, and peace that we so joyously and liberally celebrate at this time of year, is totally reasonable.
Despite this sense of universal celebration, it is not surprising that there are places in the world that try to discount all of it as western cultural invasion. Just this week for example, Christianity Today, reported that Chinese leaders are doing everything they can to suppress the celebration of Christmas because it detracts from Chinese culture and nationalism. I guess, in our world of estrangement from God, it is not surprising that there are many forces seek to deny the greater reality!
It’s good to read of those who shared in that first party—the angels, shepherds, and magi from the east! Over the years, despite naysayers like King Herod and many others, the party has grown to include more and more people. Still, there are many who haven’t heard how they too can share in this good news. During this time in our lives, our prayer is that many more will come to experience the hope, joy, and peace that comes from knowing the true story of Christmas.
This year for the first time in a long while, our partying for Christmas will include having everyone in the family together for a couple of days. In the last two years, we have been blessed to live very near to two of our children and their families, and close to another just up the road in Edmonton. And over the course of the year, we’ve also had good times with the family further away in Maple Ridge.
It has been such a treat to enjoy these times with our children and grandchildren (as well as all the dogs!). Meanwhile, it has also been good to be able to serve the church. In May, I finished a pastoral transition role at a church in Three Hills–the Prairie Tabernacle Congregation. Got to know some wonderful people in that community. Since May, we have been traveling some to visit family outside of Calgary, catching up on projects around our home, getting to know the neighbours, and connecting with our church. And this week, I accepted a call to work a bit with the Evangelical Free Church in Taber, AB.
While there is much that has been truly unsettling in all our lives these past few years, we are encouraged by the knowledge that, behind it all, God is preparing for Jesus’ final arrival to wrap-up the formation of his eternal kingdom. It is our prayer that all our hearts will be filled with hope, peace, and joy as we celebrate the event that also holds promise of that even greater future reality!