18th December 2014
BEFORE - AND AFTER - CHRISTMAS
by the Rev Perry Smith of Belmont, NSW
It's the ‘afterwards' that counts, whether it's a new washing powder, a course of medicine, a holiday - or a celebration of the true Christmas. Many only think of the commercialised Christmas, not of God's incarnation as a Baby in a manger. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer cannot transform your life, but Jesus the Redeemer can, who shed His precious red blood for our salvation.
The secular Christmas leaves some folk worse than it found them. It may even take them a while to get over it. Let's look at the three ‘after Christmas' reactions of the most involved people in that first Christmas.
Spot the words ‘wonder' and ‘wonderful' in the Carols and the Gospels. That first Christmas was ‘the wonder God had wrought for man'... ‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be'. Later, ‘the people were delighted with all the wonderful things He was doing' (Luke 13:17).
Various Bible translators have rendered Paul's unique word in II Corinthians 9:15, ‘Thanks be to God for His unspeakable - inexpressible - indescribable - incomparable - gift beyond words'. Catch the wonder of it all! It is God's gift to you of ‘a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:11).
Consider Mary who ‘treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart' (Luke 2:19), with plenty to ponder and think about! What an amazing young woman whom God chose to be the human channel to bring His Son into the world be a Saviour - God with the skin on! Meditation is a lost art for many today; life is too fast, too complex. Take time to ponder and let the Christmas message sink in. As the Carol puts it, ‘O may we keep and ponder in our mind, God's wondrous love in saving lost mankind'.
Consider the shepherds who ‘returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen' (Luke 2:20). Think about your ‘after Christmas'. Will you be like the three wise men, Mary and the shepherds, returning to your everyday living still pondering and praising the God who planned and predicted it all and carried it all through - for you and for me.
Consider the wise men who ‘returned by another route, another way' (Matthew 2:11). We know why - the bloodthirsty King Herod was out for the Baby's life. But that phrase speaks to me of the right way to leave Christmas. If we really appreciate what God did in His gift of Jesus that first Christmas, we should leave Christmas by a different way, as different people indeed.
‘Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.' (Charles Wesley)