Christmas and New Year 2018
'While they were there the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.'
When we think about Christmas our thoughts are often taken up with writing cards, buying presents and arranging to be with family and friends. Or for those facing difficult circumstances, Christmas can be a painful reminder of their struggles rather than a source of joy and celebration. But the message to us all at Christmas is that God came into our world as a helpless baby desiring to be with us in all that we face in life. He came to give us wonderful security that whatever our circumstances we can be at peace because He is with us. And because He is with us we can be lifted to a different place of being, hearing His voice and receiving His ongoing gifts of love, joy, and strength.
I find it wonderfully encouraging how even in Jesus’ birth it shows how completely He identifies with us in our weaknesses and trials. We all face times when everything goes wrong. It can be easy to feel then that maybe God isn’t as faithful as we’ve always believed. Does He really care or act on our behalf? But this story shows how God was bringing His amazing plans to birth even in the midst of catastrophically difficult circumstances. So Mary and Joseph had nowhere to stay the night of the census and of their son’s birth. There was no place for them at the inn. The Bible is so brief in its detail but can you imagine the emotions Mary must have experienced following everything else that had happened and now nowhere to go when her time has come? But God was with her as He is with us all. He did provide and He did protect and amazingly we see a few verses further on when the angels are telling the shepherds what has happened, that they use this very circumstance of Jesus having to sleep in a manger, to be the divine sign that God was doing something amazing! ‘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.’ 11 – 12
How can God take that which is disastrous to us and cause it to become something beautiful and even a holy sign of His promise? Yet He does, not just in this story but in the story of all our lives. Christmas celebrates the birth of His Son but it also celebrates the birth of His promises being fulfilled in our lives whatever our circumstances. He is with us and wants to bring new faith and hope alive in our hearts as we celebrate this Christmas and step into all that the New Year holds for us. He gives you His peace and offers you His joy. He is with you and promises that even those things that feel like ashes to you, He will transform into something beautiful.
All of us in MBM pray that you will know the wonder of His love and joy this Christmas and His amazing blessing over you in the New Year.