Can it be Christmas all year?

Happy belated Christmas greetings! What was your favourite part of Christmas this year? Was it the gifts or the food? Time with family? The candlelit carol service?

The story of the Nativity is one we all know – perhaps one we are all too familiar with. Jesus, the Son of God, came as a human baby, born to Mary and Joseph in a stable, welcomed by animals, shepherds and foreign priests. An unusual but nonetheless familiar story. I asked the Lord for a fresh message this Christmas; to open my eyes to what He wanted to teach me about Himself this season. His repeated message to me was ‘Immanuel, God with us – the greatest gift’.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).                           Matthew 1:23

The Lord indeed opened my eyes to see that God’s gift of Immanuel has always been His desire – to be with His people. Countless verses throughout the Bible speak of God being with us. “Fear not for I am with you.” “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” “The Lord your God is in your midst”. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  • God was with Adam in Genesis. He walked with Adam and talked with him – like father and son, like two lovers. Sin separated them and broke this relationship.
  • The Lord established a covenant relationship with the Israelites. Throughout the Old Testament, He reminded them over and over again of this covenant. “I will be your God and you shall be my people”. He chose to dwell among them in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. He spoke to them through various prophets to call His people back into the covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:33

  • Jesus, the Son of God, came in human flesh. He came as the Immanuel to live among us. He died as the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins, that we might be reconciled with God. He rose to life and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for His people.
  • God sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within all who believe in Jesus Christ, restoring His image in us and bringing us in closer unity with Himself. He works through us to bring His presence on earth today.
  • We look to an eternal and complete intimacy with the Lord, a forever of being in perfect relationship with Him – the final fulfillment of Immanuel, God with us.

This is an overly condensed summary but the point is: our most needed gift is His presence. We were created to walk with Him, to know Him, to love and glorify Him. Christ came to solve the problem of sin – the sin that separated us from His presence. So, yes it should be Christmas all year round for all who believe in Christ and hope in the promise of an eternity of Immanuel! For any who are yet to join the (stress-free) never-ending Christmas party, the invitation is open to anyone and everyone who wants to know and believe Jesus and what he did for us.

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Lessons from Mexico – #4

Lesson #4: one body in Christ, many parts

One of the first things we noticed as a team was how each of us had different talents, interests and experiences, and how God had brought each one into the group to serve a role.

We initially realised this during the children’s holiday club. There was no formal meeting to discuss or delegate roles, but we were simply happy and open to serve in whatever way was needed. As we prepared and led various activities, we naturally took on the roles that were created. Each team member ended up serving in their area of gifting, whether that be leading games, worship and dancing, taking photos, handing out sweets and stickers, building relationships with the parents, or helping with arts and crafts activities.

This is only one example. There were many other instances (e.g. when doing practical work at the Christian campsite, seeing the missionaries working together as a team) when  I felt we were experiencing what Paul meant when he wrote about the Church forming the body of Christ:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Romans 12:4-6

Some have gifts that are more upfront and visible, others have gifts that may often take them behind the scenes. As the passage says, we do not all have the same role to play, for how silly would it be if we only had eyes to form our body! We must not be jealous or proud or even embarrassed, but humbly use the gifts we have been given to serve Christ and His body, the Church. We need each other to play our given roles in order to build up His Kingdom and hold the Church together and strong. Let us not forget any member of the church, whether young or old, big or small, new or regular – whatever shape or size, each member of the Body is needed to keep it healthy, whole and functioning!