Waiting for Christmas

Waiting, is an intrinsic factor surrounding Christmas.

The commercial world of course just cannot wait. As soon as the holiday season is over advertising ‘Christmas’ begins and the shops fill up with Christmas fare. As the weeks pass, packaging on all goods, food included, is festooned with holly, stars, snowmen and Father Christmas of course. Christmas lights and hanging decorations appear and our every day surroundings become festive and magical. While we enjoy this and acknowledge the need for businesses to use the season to make money and create jobs we do have concerns for those people encouraged to spending more than they can truly afford.

Later, many houses and gardens are beautifully lit and some fantastic Santa and snowmen appear as a welcome at the doors. Councils make great efforts with lights on public buildings, trees and Grottos in public squares and spaces as the Festive Spirit heightens.

Waiting is hard for children, the last week in school is usually a magical time but when schools close parents have to deal with the frustration and behavioural problems that waiting creates for them.

This waiting, heralds the season of peace and good will towards all people. It is the period when people tend to think of the vulnerable, the poor and the homeless and to respond generously to food banks and various Charities. It is the time too when families and friends make plans to meet and celebrate together.

 But what are we really waiting for? What is Christmas all about?

The question takes us back many, many,centuries, at least to the eighth century BC! In the writings of the prophet Isaiah we read this promise from God to the Jewish people.

“The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child, and will soon give birth to a son, whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us." Isaiah 7:10-14

Over these many centuries the Jewish nation were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. The nation was constantly under attack from neighbouring tribes and kingdoms and on many occasions defeated and enslaved by them but they always fought back and obtained their freedom. During this period they never lost hope that the promised saviour would deliver them from their enemies.

As the centuries passed the nature or mission of this promised Saviour or ‘Messiah’ as he came to be called, underwent many interpretations. Although the Jewish race were a Godly people, like the rest of humanity they had their weaknesses and on many occasions adapted to the life style of their captors or neighbours forgetting their allegiance to God and the Ten Commandments given to Moses. However the hope and expectation of the Messiah continued.

When in the fullness of time Jesus Christ, was born, the Jewish nation was under the control of the Roman  Empire. The Romans were reasonably tolerant in their occupation and allowed religious observance and traditions to continue as normal. However, as in our present day world, corruption and hypocrisy were rife among some of the Leaders of the time. When Jesus came to maturity he announced his understanding of his purpose and mission.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”
Luke 4:18.

In the course of his three year ministry Jesus performed many powerful healings that could not be disputed. His mission was about love and mercy not political power and control.

This did not meet the Jewish expectation of a Messiah who would liberate the country from the power of their enemies, in this instance the Roman Empire. Jesus was not in the business of making a powerful, conquering Jewish nation. He very soon became a thorn in the side of Jewish Leaders who after many verbal confrontations schemed to get rid of him. In doing so they fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

This is what Christmas is about.

It is the celebration of an ineffable, stunning mystery; God became man and took on to himself all the evil that we humans have perpetrated and will perpetrate until the end of time.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas. God becomes man. He took on human flesh and blood and was born of a woman, by divine intervention. This is what we Christians believe. We call this mystery 'The Incarnation.’

Jesus is truly God and truly man. This is the core of Christian Faith; an inner knowledge, an inner certainty about a truth that we can never fully comprehend or prove but which we believe and upon which we build our lives.

 


  “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

 

 

Sister Camlla