This Christmas morning during our regular time for church worship, I sat in my pew thinking about the four banners hanging on the wall behind the pulpit. Each Sunday of Advent, a new banner had appeared with the theme for that particular week. Now, with the banners together on Christmas morning, I saw the gifts of God we’re to welcome and receive each day of each New Year:
Hope, Peace, Joy, Love
As you consider Christ’s hope in your life, think about the most impossible situation that no amount of work, worry, or will power can resolve. Then think about that first Christmas when Jesus’ birth brought hope to all of us who turn to Him – even when we’re up against a giant impossibility with nothing workable of our own but a teeny-tiny mustard seed of faith.
At Jesus’ birth, a crowd of angels sang out: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,“ Luke 2:14. Since we’re to give God the glory, we might paraphrase that verse to say: “Give the highest glory to God, and, on earth, give peace and good will to all.”
Peace is a gift we can exchange and re-gift, back and forth – between us and other people, between us and God. However, our peace with God is a gift opened in Christ. As Romans 5:1 explains, “We have been made right in God’s sight by faith. Therefore, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Again, an infinitesimal amount of faith holds infinite possibilities – thanks to our Lord Jesus.
A happy holiday is nice. A merry Christmas is better. But neither happiness nor merriness compares with the joy that comes from the release of being freed from captivity or the immense relief of forgiving and being forgiven.
After the Hebrew people had been released from the Babylonian exile, they celebrated the Passover with specific instructions from Nehemiah, “Do not grieve! For the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.
The coming of Jesus brought joy, and at His death, He became our Passover – the final sacrifice, once, for all, for all sin. What strength we have against all ills and evils in Jesus’ Name! What joy to be released – to be forgiven and forgive!
We love because God first loved us! 1 John 4:19 says so.
God created us in the very image of love, and, in Christ, we have the perfect gift of love from God to us.
Hope, Peace, Joy, Love – such glorious gifts! May God help us to receive them to the full each day of each New Year. May God help us to re-gift them and exchange them - back and forth - with one another in Jesus’ Name.
Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016