We’ve watched as loved ones opened our presents that we so diligently wrapped and placed under our trees. We’ve gathered together around the holiday dinner table and ate too much like we always do. We’ve bickered and made up. We’ve taken way too many pictures that our relatives can use as blackmail because we wore our jammies again this year. We’ve been making all sorts of preparations in anticipation, but now that Christmas is over…now what?
Some of us will be heading back to work. Others will be hitting up the stores and standing in lengthy return lines. We’ll be eating leftovers from holiday dinners and munching on candy from now to New Years. Some of us may choose to use up those vacation hours we’ve earned to recuperate from yet another busy season. And yet maybe for some, nothing will change. Maybe Christmas is just another day. Maybe even a day you dread. Maybe you just get too overwhelmed with everything.
I’ll pose a question to you that God posed to me through one of His barbarian followers this week: What if we chose to believe God is here? What if we actually believed God came to Earth in human form and His name is Jesus? What if? Wouldn’t, shouldn’t our response change? Somehow, I think our response to Christmas would be a lot different. Our response to the way we choose to live our lives on every other day of the year would be different.
The birth of Jesus is one story in the Bible that never gets old. The message of Hope is timeless because we live in a world full of hopeless people, people who are overwhelmed with circumstances life brings. Allow me to introduce to you a story about when Hope came to stay. The account of Matthew starting in chapter one says (this passage was found at biblegateway.com):
18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins."
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"[d]—which means, "God with us."
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Take note of the meaning of Immanuel in verse 22, “God with us.” The Bible tells us God is here with us. This is only one piece of evidence that we can take by faith that God came down from Heaven via the birth of a holy baby boy. Need more evidence? When was the last time you truly felt overwhelmed in a good way? Remember that glimmer of hope?
Think back on your Christmas. Think about the people in your life who gave you just what you had wanted or more than you could ask for, that one surprise gift. That’s God’s work in your life; it’s His love coming through for you through the works of other people. That’s only an ounce of His love but it is more evidence that God is with us. It’s our evidence that Hope came to stay.
Maybe you honestly can’t remember that glimmer of hope. Maybe your Christmases were never that great. Here’s some hope friend: they can be! When Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago, the world changed. He is the reason we celebrate; Jesus is God’s ultimate gift to us. And yet, so many of us are offered Jesus and we try and return Him. Folks, God’s gift to us is not a gift that can be returned. You either accept His gift or you don’t. You wouldn't tell someone who just gave you a gift that you don't want it, right? So why on Earth would you tell God you don't want His gift for you? It truly is a season for the Reason. Just something to think about as you play with your new toys this year.
Just because December 25th has come and gone does not mean the spirit of Christmas must end. Let's linger in the spirit of giving and let’s start by receiving. Christmas is about giving but God’s gifts don’t do us any good unless we receive them. And if you're up to the challenge, take it one step further and give your heart to God. He truly does love you and wants what is best for you. He will work in your favor if only you let Him. You may be feeling overwhelmed, but God can overwhelm you with joy. Let God give you Hope. He’s been trying to for over 2,000 years.