Why celebrate Christmas?
We live in a troubled world – the continued war in Ukraine, the Hamas terror attacks on Israel, leading to another war, floods and gales, and what feels like ever increasing costs just to live! Sadly, that list hardly scratches the surface and when we add to it our own health, family and financial worries, it is easy to begin to feel lost and hopeless. We wonder if it will ever get any better.
2,000 years ago people living in what we now call Israel must have felt the same. The Roman Empire was in charge and life was very difficult. Into that mess stepped God. He could have stood back and watched, but instead he sent Jesus, His Son, as a baby born in Bethlehem.
“So what?” you may ask? What difference does that make to me in 2023? As a statement of history, none whatsoever, but babies have a habit of growing into adults and that is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus grew into an adult and told people that there is (is, not was) hope. If people believed in him, there would be instant support, comfort and love. Many came to know Jesus and realised this was true. Their problems were not swept away, but they had someone they could turn to, someone who went through life with them – God. Their passion and certainty was so great that many of them died for that belief.
So what difference does it make to me in 2023? Jesus said his love and support were not limited to those who met him when he was on earth, but would last for generations to come. Christians today know they have the love, support and care of God. They are not exempt from the world’s suffering, but they have someone to accompany them and support them in ways no one else can. All this is because of a baby born in a stable in Bethlehem, a verified historical event in a real place in real time.
I decided to follow Jesus in 1985. I have never regretted that decision and I know for a fact that without him I would really struggle. It is up to you if you believe me or not, but what have you got to lose? You could have everything to gain. Believe in Jesus this Christmas.
Mark K Madeley (Rev’d)
Rector, St Nicholas, Uphill & St Barnabas, Coronation Estate