It’s been over two thousand years since the first Christmas was celebrated by some shepherds as they gazed in amazement at the gift of God in a manger, having been informed by a heavenly host and led by a heavenly star.
My how things have changed in two thousand plus years. The people during that first Christmas found themselves being heavily taxed and facing the prospect of a sharp increase to cover expanding military expenses. The threat of world domination by a cruel, ungodly, power-intoxicated band of people loomed larger and larger. Moral deterioration had already corrupted the upper levels of society and was rapidly moving into the general populace. Intense nationalistic feeling was clashing openly with new and sinister forms of imperialism. Conformity had become the spirit of the age and the expectation of all.
Government handouts were being used with increasing regularity to keep the general public from rising up and throwing out the leaders. Interest rates were spiraling upward in the midst of an inflated economy. External religious observances were considered a political asset, and abnormal emphasis was being placed upon sports and athletic competitions. Racial tensions were at the breaking point as civil unrest erupted in many cities.
And at just such a time, in the midst of such corruption, immorality, fear and unrest, a child was born to a migrant couple who had just signed up for a fresh round of taxation and would soon become political exiles. And the child who was born to them was called, among other things, Immanuel – God with us.
Then again, maybe things haven’t changed all that much. In the midst of a governmental quandary, an economical nightmare, an increasing moral decay, an imposing threat abroad, and a spiritual void that harbors fear and despair at every turn, God’s gift continues to bring healing and hope to people that need it desperately. Immanuel has indeed come!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
This Christmas Season, I pray the gift of God’s presence and peace bring you joy and assurance in ever-increasing measure.