One of the extraordinary opportunities of the Christmas season is to engage in public worship and witness through the playing and singing of Christmas Carols. Have you ever thought of Christmas Carolling in that way - as public worship and witness? Look closely at the words of the well known carol 'Hark The Herald Angel Sing':
Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
This carol begins with words of worship!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
This carol then gives witness to what Christ has done.
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
This carol ends with worship.
As expressed at the beginning of this carol, “Light and life to all He brings” is the real hope of the Christmas message that witnesses to the gift of ETERNAL LIFE found in Jesus Christ both in the present and future. Eternal life starts today and keeps on giving as we move from this life into the life that is to come. Jesus was born for no other reason than to break the curse of sin and death and restore life to humankind! Jesus himself affirmed this in John 10:10…
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
This is also the message that Jesus gave the woman at the well as He journeyed through Samaria.
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:10-14)
The water in this encounter provides a powerful metaphor for the “gift of God” Jesus spoke of, as we all understand what it means to thirst and we all experience the continual need to quench that thirst. Drinking water is not a one off action but a continual reality as long as we live. If you don’t drink, you die!
The woman came to the well to draw water that gave her life for a moment.
Similarly, we receive and give gifts at Christmas that bring temporary joy. We exchange a form of hope that does little to change the trajectory of a person’s life.
I’m not for a moment wanting to devalue the giving of Christmas gifts, but to remind us that we have something so much greater to give at Christmas time! I love to give my children gifts, I love the joy we bring to underprivileged people in our community through our Christmas cheer giving, and I love the global impact we can have through giving the ‘gifts that keep on giving’ through Just Salvos.
Jesus came to the well and offered water that gave the woman life for eternity.
Therefore, we can receive and give a gift this Christmas that brings eternal joy. We can exchange a form of hope that can radically transform a person’s life.
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” Jesus offers a gift that keeps on giving, that is, the gift of ETERNAL LIFE!
While I enjoy and engage in many of our cultural expressions of Christmas, I grow increasingly frustrated by our consumer expectations of Christmas that create an endless pursuit of something that ultimately leaves us unsatisfied. In fact, if we are honest, often our attempts to have and give a “good Christmas” leaves most of us exhausted, some with a credit card debt, many with a few extra kilograms that require a New Year’s resolution to lose, and others with rekindled family tensions! I’m not sure that is the gift of Christmas that Christ intended.
Do you look for LIFE through the scourge of endless spending in the commercialism of Christmas? Or, will you find LIFE through the source of endless supply in the Christ of Christmas?