By Reverend Michael Hutchison, Sacred Heart Church
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone” (Isaiah 9:1). With these prophetic words, Isaiah captures the meaning of Christmas.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world. He is the Light of the world (Cf. John 8:12), and He comes to illumine the darkness. Darkness, here, represents despair, evil, hopelessness, sin, and all the vices. In the Gospel of John, the author rightly identifies Jesus as the Light of humanity; the Light that shines in the darkness; the Light that the darkness has not overcome. He is the true light that enlightens everyone (John 1:5).
Christ has come to remove all darkness in our hearts and in our world. This calls us to celebrate with joy, for it is good news for humanity. The season of Christmas is a season of light. We, as disciples of Christ, are called to illuminate our families, cities, nations, and all the Earth. We are light when we stand for truth, and when we illumine the way for others. We are light when we deliver hope and dispense reasons to smile.
Christmas is a season of unity and peace. Growing up my father used to tell me stories about how his family celebrated Christmas. His grandfather, would gather all members of the extended family to share a meal from a single plate. This act symbolized unity because no one dines with their enemy. Christmas is a time to put a stop to all the infighting and tension. A “lasting truce” between parents and children, between siblings, between man and wife, between neighbors. It is a time to unite and let go of bitterness and pain. Remember that in the midst of World War I, Christmas 1914 brought German and British soldiers together. They met in no man’s land along the Western Front during unofficial, soldier-declared ceasefires, many of which ended in carol singing.
Christmas is a season of sharing. As I walked down the aisles shopping recently I noticed how shoppers were busily pursuing gifts for friends and loved ones. In particular, I witnessed smiles on their faces upon discovering the perfect gift. What a beautiful sight it was. But should this joy be reserved only for those we know or those close to us? Christ came to all. It is amazing that even animals had their share of His blessing. We are encouraged to share with all. Share material gifts, but also share words of hope, comfort, joy, peace, and share your time and talents with others, and with your church.
Christmas is a season of joy. “Joy to the world the Lord is come!” Isaac Watts instructs in his popular Christmas carol. How do we share in this joy? We must cast off deeds of darkness; cast off anger, pain, disappointment, sorrow, for there is a reason to be joyful and the reason is the birth of the Christ-child. See how parents, family, caregivers, and friends receive the news of a new born baby with joy. Why should we not be happy if no other person but God Himself has decided to visit us in the form of a child. Be happy and joyful. In fact, the Psalmist will say “shout with joy to the Lord…” (Ps 98).
Above all let us remember that the Christ-child was not always a child or a baby. He grew in wisdom and stature and the favor of God was upon him (Cf. Luke 2:52). So, also, the joy, peace, love, and unity must grow in us. The sharing must, also, continue and not be just at Christmas. What we begin this season should grow into fruition.
As some people in Ghana jokingly say, “I wish you a Mary Christmas and a Joseph new Year”! Merry Christmas to you all, and may the New Year find you in good health, and in the fear of the Lord.
Jesus meek and humble of heart, touch our hearts and make them like your own. Amen.