The year 2020 has been a difficult one. It included a pandemic, racial tension and riots, and a divisive presidential election. Many of us had hoped we would be able to leave those things behind as we look ahead to 2021, but that won’t be the case. Covid-19 isn’t going to be gone anytime soon. Racial tension and political unrest aren’t going anywhere either.
Back before Thanksgiving, I was talking to a church member who said they had already started listening to Christmas music. I told them I had been doing the same thing. We both felt that after this year, we needed Christmas cheer a bit early.
Of course, Christmas is about much more than just a cheerful feeling. Christmas is about hope and joy that cannot be taken away by a bad year. It is about hope and joy that does not change. As I think about this, I think of a couple Bible verses and a Christmas carol.
The Bible verses come from Luke chapter 2, where the angels are telling the shepherds about Christ’s birth.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11[i]
No matter what happens in our world, this “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” doesn’t change. Jesus, the Son of God was born into our world on Christmas day. He came because we have a sin problem, and it has broken our relationship with God, our Creator. He came because, as this year has reminded us, our world is broken by sin. He came because we needed a Savior. No matter how bad this world gets, Christians can know that our relationship with God has been repaired by Jesus. We can also know that one day, we will live forever with Him instead of living in this broken world.
The Christmas carol I think of is “Joy to the World.”[ii] Its last verse begins with the words, “He rules the world with truth and grace.” Our world may be going crazy, but Jesus is still on the throne. He is still in charge. He is still at work doing good things. Maybe you even see some good things he has done inside of you through this difficult year.
Jesus rules with truth. The truth of God’s Word does not change and we can live by it today, just like Christians have lived by it for thousands of years. He also rules with grace. There are many hopeless, broken and discouraged people around us. In His grace, Jesus invites them to experience joy, hope, healing and forgiveness through faith in the baby who came to earth to save them.
May the unchanging hope and joy of Christmas encourage and strengthen you as we come to the end of this year! Merry Christmas!