A CHRISTMAS THOUGHT
K. V. Varghese
We are in another Christmas season. When we think of Christmas, our memories take us back to some good old childhood events. For some, it may be the cake decorated with the words 'Happy Christmas' that they cut for themselves and their families; for others, it may be the first carol they sang in their churches, the first Christmas skit they presented, or the results of the Christmas exams. For me, it is the Christmas carols I sang with my elder brothers and the members of our village church, going from house to house holding many coloured Christmas lamps and a drum, the only musical instrument there was. I remember how people welcomed us into their houses, urging us to sing one more song, and entertaining us with black coffee, cake, etc.
Even non-Christians invited us to their homes to sing Christmas carols. In every house, the last song we sang was, "We wish you a merry Christmas, merry Christmas, merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," followed by one of us saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Tired, we returned to our homes early in the morning. Such celebrations are fast disappearing; but those happy memories are still green in my mind.
But what is it that we should remember during Christmas? First, remember Mary. The village of Galilee was not considered a good village in those days and it was usually referred to as 'Galilee of the Gentiles.' The angel of the Lord visited a poor girl in this village to greet her with the Lord's blessings. He said, "Hail, O favoured one, the Lord is with you." Yes, she was Mary. The Lord found her worthy to receive His blessings. The blessing was that she found favour in the Lord's eyes. "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and you shall call His name, Jesus." Blessed be Mary who willingly accepted the blessings saying, "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word," even though the news was shocking to Mary, especially because she was already betrothed to Joseph.
God, even today, uses ordinary people in ordinary scenarios. He is not worried about the status of the person in society, educational qualifications, or the so-called spirituality. He is interested in those who are meek, innocent and obedient in their hearts. God's grace need not always bring welcome news. It was shocking for this engaged virgin, yet she bowed to God's will. Shall we also do the same when we know that it is the Lord who allows things to happen in our lives? Will we, like Mary, allow Jesus to be born in us in such circumstances?
Secondly, remember the inn-keeper. The Gospel does not mention his name or any detail about him. He had been very busy with the seasonal business, yet he had compassion for this poor couple who were in desperate need to lay down their first/new born baby. Without any knowledge of who his guests were, he provided the family what he could in that situation, and this act gave him a place in the Lord's redemption plan. This gave him a chance to hear the shepherd's story and also the great opportunity to serve the Lord. Definitely, Joseph and Mary must have thanked him profusely for his hospitality and goodwill. Look, what blessing! Remember, Abraham did the same to the angels at the Oak of Mamre without knowing who they were and was blessed with a son in his old age. God blesses those who care for others. Let us, during this Christmas season, care for the needy and depressed in society.
Thirdly, remember the shepherds. The good news of Christmas was first declared to the shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their sheep by night. They also had the privilege of hearing the first carol. They were simple people, but hard working and diligent. God reveals Himself to simple, innocent people. Jesus selected His disciples from the ordinary uneducated fishermen. The shepherds were watching their flock by night. Jesus said, "Watch therefore, for you do not know on which day your Lord is coming." Are we watchful for the Lord's coming?
Lastly, remember the wise men. The wise men from the East did not scan the sky for this particular star. They too were busy with their profession and, in the course of their search, they found this star proclaiming the birth of the king of the Jews. That star became the most wonderful sight in their whole sky-watch. Looking upward, they saw this marvellous sight to find God. One need not get away from his stage and state, but has to be watchful and honest in what he is doing. Are we watchful, knowing that the Lord is coming?
Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not evolve out of history. He came into history from outside. He is a being who cannot be accounted for from the human race at all. He is not man becoming god, but God incarnate. Our Lord's birth was an advent. Just as our Lord came into human history from outside, He must come to us from outside. We cannot enter into the kingdom of God unless we are born from above by a birth totally different from natural birth. "You must be born again," said Jesus. The characteristic of the new birth is that we yield ourselves so completely to God that Christ is born in us. Immediately when Christ is formed in us, His nature begins to work through us. The realisation of this birth in us is the real Christmas. Let us strive for this new birth during this Christmas season.
The second Christmas is fast approaching. The signs are clear, as told by Jesus (Matt. 24). This time, Jesus is not coming as a babe in the manger, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords to judge and to reign forever, and His Kingdom shall have no end. Be therefore watchful in your situation. "Therefore you also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at the hour you do not expect."
Wish all the readers a very Happy and blessed Christmas.