It’s 3 ½ weeks till Christmas. You’ve started (or finished) your gift shopping, invited your guests, planned your menu. Children have made their wish lists. Holidays are organised. A lot of planning has already happened. But how much time have you spent planning how to focus on Jesus this Christmas time?

Today is the first Sunday of advent (the 4 weeks preceding Christmas), which makes it a great day to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and think carefully how about we can celebrate Christ this season.

I am no expert in this, only a fellow traveller. I long for our family to be firmly focused on Jesus at Christmas time, but I am sucked in to the materialism and busyness of the season as quickly as anyone else. My only qualification is that I’ve read some good books and I long to do better each year! Let me recommend

  • My Soul Magnifies the Lord (Martin Lloyd Jones)
  • Treasuring God in your traditions (Noel Piper)
  • Disciplines of a Godly Family (Kent and Barbara Hughes)

So, what is Christmas really about?

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of darkness, a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2)

For me, this verse sums it all up. God has not left us in darkness: doomed by our sin and under judgement. But Jesus, the long-promised Messiah has come…

And in him was life and that life was the light of men …the true light which enlightens everyone was coming into the world (John 1:4,9)

Jesus has come bringing salvation, peace with God, the fulfillment of every promise made by God and the assurance that all future promises will be faithfully kept as well. The babe in the manger is God with us, God come down to be with us, Immanuel.

Because of Christmas we are no longer living in darkness. We can celebrate the light and life He has given us. We need to reflect that light so that those still living in darkness can see it.

Christmas is totally about what God has done for us. It is not at all about what we must do. It is not about us spreading peace or joy or showing goodwill and generosity to other people. It is all about what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. If you think about the Christmas narrative, all the action was on God’s part. The angels proclaimed the good news and announced God’s salvation plan.  Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah  and the shepherds weren’t  asked to do anything. Their only response? To worship!

This is primarily what we need to do at Christmas time: to focus on Jesus, to meditate on what God has done through Him from birth, to death and resurrection and to worship. To rejoice with our families in God’s goodness to us and to bow down in gratitude saying

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2 Cor 9:15)

Written by Sue Duke