I’m not quite sure how we got here already, but we’re well into December, and Christmas is approaching fast!
I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but round here, judging by the amount of Christmas trees and fairy lights appearing throughout November, it seems like everyone is getting started earlier with Christmas this year.
I managed to hold off on the decorations until December, but I have had one particular Christmas song on repeat in my head since about September!
It’s not the best-known Christmas song, but it is one of the catchiest (so be warned if you have a listen!). It’s called “We Need A Little Christmas”. It talks about how everything is a bit dark and a bit sad, and what we need to remedy that is a little Christmas.
It’s the perfect song for 2020, because in many ways it has been dark and sad, and I’m sure we’ll all appreciate the sparkle of the tinsel and the fairy lights bringing some brightness to the gloom this year. But there are also much more profound reasons why we need a little Christmas. This post is the first in a mini-series reflecting on some of those as we approach Christmas. (Posts 2 and 3 will follow on the 14th and 21st.)
One thing 2020 has shown us is how interconnected we are. I remember hearing at the start of the year about a mysterious new virus in China, and it seemed like many other news stories from far away – concerning and interesting, but distant and far-removed from our own lives.
And yet with frightening speed, the virus travelled round the world, impacting almost every country. The vast majority of people on the planet have been affected in some way, whether directly by the virus, by lockdown and the various restrictions, or by the economic consequences. It’s scary to think that something that started with one person had such a ripple effect and such an impact on millions of people, and yet it makes me think of a similar situation we read of in the Bible.
Right back at the beginning, we read of Adam and Eve. God created them and placed them in a garden with countless blessings and just one rule – don’t eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden.
Unfortunately they did, and at that moment everything changed. Their relationships with God and with one another were broken; trust, openness and innocence gave way to fear, shame and hiding. And the world was broken. From then on they would have to work hard to make a living from the ground, and from that point on sickness and suffering became part of the human existence. Nothing was as it was originally intended to be.
It became a legacy that was passed down through the generations – a terrible legacy of sin, suffering, and death.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
This was a virus way more contagious and way more deadly than COVID-19. It started with one seemingly-small sin, but, even today, it impacts everyone in every part of the world. There is nothing we can do to stop its spread, and there is nothing we can do to cure it.
And yet, thanks to God’s faithfulness, people’s sin was not the end of the story. All through the Old Testament we read of God’s goodness, and of how he never abandoned his people despite their disobedience. He was committed to his people and he promised to provide a solution.
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:2 NLT)
The promise would come about through the birth of a child, and the great thing is that it didn’t depend on people doing anything: “The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” (Isaiah 9:7 NLT)
So we need a little Christmas, because we need to remember that through the birth of Jesus this promise was fulfilled.
He came to “save his people from their sins”. (Matthew 1:21 NLT) He came to set things right, to be a light in the darkness, and to provide the solution the world was longing for.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)
And he demonstrated that no matter how great the power of sin and death, his power is greater.
“The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NLT)
We need a little Christmas because Jesus is the answer, the one who can fix what we can’t fix ourselves, the one who can deal with sin – and this is a hope the world desperately needs right now!