It is that time of the year again. As Christmas draws close, the shopping malls have become as busy as ever and many are feverishly trying to get all that they need as well as buying gifts to give to neighbours, family, colleagues and all who are fortunate enough to be on their Christmas list.
A few days ago, I joined some members of my local church to sing carols at the main shopping centre. Many shoppers walked past briskly focused on getting their shopping items sorted. Others slowed down to listen a bit to our songs while some others actually sat down to enjoy song after song as we sang.
After we finished singing, I was greeted by someone who asked which Church we were from and after I had told him, I remarked, “This is one of the ways we can remind people what Christmas is all about”. He agreed.
Why do we celebrate Christmas? We need to ask ourselves this question every time we approach this season. It helps us have the right perspective, or else we would miss the true message behind it and get carried away by the festivities. Have you noticed that many love to celebrate Christmas but yet do not want to acknowledge its religious or spiritual significance? That is why many greet each other happy holidays rather than Merry Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas because it is the season when we remind ourselves of when God came to earth in human flesh and dwelt among us. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) (Matthew 1:22)
Prior to this time, mankind engaged in all kind of activities and religious ceremonies to appease God. All these efforts were a far cry from the requirement of divine justice. This was why God Himself decided to act to save man from the downward spiral into sin and depravation. He came in the form of man to show us how to live and also to offer Himself up as the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of man’s sins. When we remember this, it will help us have the proper perspective when celebrating Christmas.
When the son of God was about to be born, his human parents could not even get a proper accommodation. At the time, a decree had been issued by Caesar Augustus for census to be carried out in the Roman empire. At this time, Israel was under Roman rule. Everyone had to return to their home towns to be counted so Joseph and Mary had to travel to Nazareth. Since he had a pregnant wife, I can imagine it would have taken them longer to get to their destination which meant that by the time they got there, all the guest rooms had been taken. They had to settle for a manger, sharing accommodation with animals as the baby was born.
I heard a story about a young boy who wanted to take on the part of Joseph in a nativity play. He was told someone else had that role and he could only play the role of the inn keeper. When ‘Joseph’ and ‘Mary’ knocked and asked if there was any room, the young boy quipped, ‘Yep! come in, we’ve got plenty of room!’. I can imagine the horror on the face of the teacher and probably laughter from the audience.
This set me thinking and I began asking the question, ‘Do I have room for the Lord in my life?’ We live in a busy world; We have deadlines to meet, long work days, family and social commitments and even church programmes. It is so easy to pack so much stuff into our lives that we crowd God out of our lives.
As we celebrate another Christmas, let us remember that on that first Christmas, there was no room for baby Jesus, do we have room in our lives for the King of kings and Lord of Lords today?