Christmas Eve: What’s the point?

christmas treeAs the wait for Christmas reaches its end, Simon Peters, Project Manager for Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today – the United Reformed Church’s focus on lifelong, missional discipleship – considers what we have to look forward to during, what for many will be, a very strange Christmas.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulde: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

The event we are waiting to celebrate is the birth of a child. On the surface, it doesn’t seem all that important. According to The Guardian, the United Nations estimates that around 250 babies are born every minute across the world. What makes this one so special?

When we dig a little deeper, however, we find that there is more to this birth than meets the eye. We find that the child will be born to a virgin, in a stable far from home, where he will receive visitors who will express their love for him, but he will also have enemies who will try to kill him. The boy will, almost immediately, become a child refugee.

Most importantly, we find that this is not just any child. For this is the son of God, come to earth, to live among us, not as a king or a warrior, detached from the realities of everyday life, but someone who will know from his earliest days what it means to suffer, to be marginalised, to be rejected.

The continuing Covid-19 crisis means that, for the majority of people around the world, this will be a very different Christmas than any we have experienced before. However, no matter how much pain we feel, no matter how many restrictions we must adhere to, no matter how distant we may be from our loved ones, Christmas gives us an opportunity to rejoice in a God who is not only with us through it all, but in us, building a vision of justice and joy for all peoples.

When we give our lonely neighbour a phone call, when we drop off presents to our relatives, when we take time to pray for those who are suffering at this time, we are living the life of Jesus today, living out the values which this child will grow up to share with us, both in his teaching and example.

In the midst of this uncertain and unsettling time, let us prepare to rejoice in the birth of a child who brings hope, not by taking our suffering away, but by working through us to make joy, health and peace a reality for all.

We pray:

In this time and space, we are waiting.
Waiting for peace. Waiting for justice. Waiting for you.
We know you’re coming. It’s been promised for a long time.
A child to be born, a son to be given, with government upon his shoulders.
A wonderful Counsellor, A mighty God, An everlasting Parent,
the very essence of peace itself.
It’s a promise we trust in. It’s a promise we cling to. It’s a promise we need.
Let us prepare for it, and play our part,
when the time comes, to build your vision for the world.


Image: Jeremy McKnight/Unsplash
Published: 21 December 2020

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