The birth of a new baby is an enormous cause for delight and celebration.
The child’s parents gaze in wonder at their baby’s tiny hands and his or her cute little face, and are utterly charmed when their child smiles at them or opens his or her beautiful big eyes– even if the baby is finding it hard to sleep at night.
The new arrival is enthusiastically admired by the wider family and friends, with many visitors eager to take their turn of holding the baby.
Thinking back to more than 2000 years ago, when Jesus was born, we can picture Mary admiring her new born son with joy and relief and gazing at him with awe and wonder.
The birth of Jesus didn’t, however, just bring joy and delight to his own family and close friends.
Luke’s gospel tells us the angel appeared to the shepherds and told them: “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town, your Saviour was born – Christ the Lord!”
The shepherds rushed to Bethlehem to welcome the new born child. It didn’t matter to them that they weren’t related to the baby.
I like to think the shepherds sensed, from what the angel had said, that this particular baby was very special indeed and they had been especially chosen for the honour of welcoming him.
I believe this was because of their poverty and low status. The announcing of Jesus’ birth to the humble shepherds is an important sign that Jesus came to our world for everyone, and that he really cared about, and cares about, the most vulnerable members of society.
Christmas is partly about celebrating Jesus’ birthday. But it’s not just about Jesus the baby.
It’s also a time to think about the caring man Jesus became – and about his healing and teaching.
And it’s a time to remember the baby born in a stable eventually died on the cross to bring us forgiveness, hope and peace.
So Christmas is about more than family get-togethers and it’s about more than the story of Jesus’ birth.
It’s about the really good news of Jesus ‘God with us’ which can make a real and very positive difference to our lives.
Jesus coming to our world shows us God’s love for everyone and offers us the peace of his presence with us, forgiveness and the hope of life beyond death.
So Christmas is NOT only for children and happy adults.
It has a very positive message of love and hope which can help all sorts of people including those who are grieving, enduring tragedy, living in war-torn countries, feeling anxious or lonely and for people who are sad or who are ill.
May you and your loved ones have a peaceful and joyful Christmas.