Christmas can come and go so quickly, often we hear the same Christmas story at church as we do every year. The Christmas story is a very powerful and significant event in the life of Christians but it can become mundane too.
Christmas this year was a little different. There were three things that I noticed in the Christmas story that I hadn’t seen before. Let me share them with you.
Let's go back for some context in the Old Testament. Wherever God’s people travelled, they went East. In Genesis, when Adam and Eve were banished from the garden, they travelled West and when the Israelites left Egypt, they travelled West.
What has this got to do with the star? Not until this year did I ever think much about the star that leads to Jesus. I have always just thought that that would have been awesome to see and experience.
I should have known that God had a bigger plan and meaning behind the star. So the star rose in the East and headed West, lead the wise men to find the baby King. How is this important?
Well, Jesus came to bring God’s people back to Him. The star travelled from the East to the West and this symbolized Father God wanting to bring His people back to Him. Father God is all about restoration.
In the Salvation Army, we talk about God’s heart for the least, the lost and the last. This wasn’t something we came up with. This is in God’s DNA and has been from the beginning.
In terms of society, where did the shepherds fit into society in biblical days? They were at the bottom - they were dirty loners that spent their time away from all others.
What is amazing is that Father God chose to share the good news of Jesus, His son, with these shepherds. They were most likely the first to hear the Gospel of the Good news of Jesus.
One brave teenager
Do we ever really stop and think about what Mary went through? She was getting married as a young teenager, then an angel told her she was pregnant. She had to travel to Joseph’s home which wasn’t a short journey.
What I realized this Christmas was that through all of this, Mary didn’t have any other family around. When she gave birth in a stable, her mother wasn’t able to be there to support her.
Can you imagine not having any pain medication or other help during this? Mary was one tough teenager. No wonder God chose her to give birth to his son!
What an awesome Christmas story this actually is. Even just from my revelation this year, I have realized and been reminded that Father God is always in the business of bringing the lost home.
Whenever I look up at the night sky, the stars remind me that Father God is always in the business of bringing people home.
The shepherds are a great reminder that God will normally use the most insignificant people in his plans. Also that he will normally use those that are removed from society.
The willingness and bravery of Mary makes me love how she responded to the call from God to bear his son. She accepted what the angel said and trusted in God to protect and guide them.
As you move into the year ahead, may we not let Christmas be an event that came and went. Let us be reminded what it means for our lives today.
Barry Kirby is a disciple of Jesus Christ, living in relationship with Father God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Barry is with the Salvation Army based in Wellington, New Zealand.
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