I have always loved Christmas. I am one of those people who, whether you like it or lump it, turns the Christmas songs on in November and gets their Christmas tree up at the first appropriate moment in December. We have a homemade advent calendar of activities. Everything about this season – the air of excitement and expectation, the lights, the pending joy, wrapping up warm, time with family, the symbolism and traditions – I love.
This year our daughter is nearly two and she is excited about Christmas in a whole new way. I have loved watching her excitement in embracing our traditions and seeing her understanding of the Christmas story grow.
I have also appreciated and been surprised by what it has meant for how I have engaged in this season this year. We have sat and read her Christmas Nativity storybook every night and bought a Christmas story advent calendar which we open every day to reveal a new part of the Christmas Story. In the simplicity of both of these acts God has shown me things about the Christmas story that I haven’t seen before. If you want to be cliched, He has given the story a fresh expression in my life.
What has particularly struck me this year is the words ‘Do not be afraid.’
Uttered by the angel to Mary,
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. [Luke 1:30]
Delivered in a dream to Joseph,
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. [Matthew 1:20]
Proclaimed by an angel to the shepherds,
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. [Luke 2:10]
In a time when there are various things in my life that means fear tries to keep creeping in, God has taken this expression out of the Christmas story and given it fresh meaning in my life. He’s brought back hope and faith and a reminder that I don’t need to fear because Christmas is a time of good news and great joy. It is incredibly simple but for me, it has been deeply profound.
Perhaps there is a fresh expression of the story that God wants to share with you this year?
How are you, in the busyness of the season, making time to stop and hear? We’ve shared a couple of advent reflections on our social media; maybe you could join in with these as we approach Christmas Day? Ask God today what promise He wants to share with you in the run up to Christmas.
Article by Jo Edwards