Dear Friends,

            How will you celebrate Christmas? Of course, there are the family traditions; the decorations, Christmas trees and all the rest; great food and drink. There are the parties and Christmas cards and phone calls. What perspective are we to have as Christians?

            Christmas is about the humility of God in Jesus Christ. That Jesus would leave the glory of heaven, to become a human being, so that we could know God and receive the grace of his rescue, is breathtaking. Every year, it is astounding to be reminded of the incarnation, that Jesus became flesh “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14. Yet of course, to celebrate this, means as his followers we seek to be humble like he was. We are glad to serve, with the example he gave us and commanded us to follow. There are so many opportunities to serve others at Christmas, whether it is washing up on Christmas day, hosting international students or the lonely or helping with our church activities. Let us be humble servants like our master.

Christmas is about the love of God in Jesus Christ.  That Jesus would not only become man, but that as a man he would humble himself, “even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8) should melt our hearts and inspire us to love others like he did. He has taken the judgement we deserve. We know the love of God through his substitutionary death – he died in our place. So, let us love, like he has loved us this Christmas. Let us go the extra mile for others to hear of his love and their need to repent. Let us love our children not just by buying them stuff, but reminding them of the love God has for them through Jesus Christ. How helpful Christmas scripture reading, Bible advent calendars, Christmas songs and the like can be in reminding us of the love of God in Jesus. What a joy it is! (To find out more about resources do try the Good Book Company.) How easy it is to get caught up in the busyness, and not spend time expressing love for God in prayer or love for others in our marriages, families and even in our church life. Let us be those who show love to God, to each other and to everyone this Christmas. 

Christmas is about the goodness of God in Jesus Christ. Of course, we are surrounded by the idea that we owe God no praise or thanksgiving for the food we eat, the presents we enjoy and the entertainment we consume. Yet, all good things proceed from the creator who has given us all good things. As Paul says of Jesus “All things were created by him and for him.” Colossians 1:16. So whatever we are enjoying; carols by candlelight; Christmas dinner; shopping for presents; minced pies and mulled wine; the smell of the Christmas tree; the latest iPhone or new computer; the series on TV that we look forward to watching; the warmth of our homes; let us be those who are thankful and full of praise to him which is his will for us in Christ Jesus.  So, may we celebrate with humble service, with love for God and neighbour and for a deep sense of gratitude and praise to him. Let us lift our voices every time we have opportunity and join in that first song of the angels – “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke 2:14. And surely, amazingly, wonderfully, his favour rests on us!

                        With much love this Christmas,                   John Parker

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