Christmas is my favorite holiday. I know, let’s alert the presses; no one’s ever loved Christmas the most before.
I have many reasons for liking Christmas as much as I do. I love food, and there’s a lot of it around this time of year. Presents are cool. Seeing people enjoy the presents I give them is even cooler. There are pretty lights everywhere. I’m an absolute sucker for nostalgia, and I have some wonderful memories of Christmas time from when I was a kid. It’s a holiday with its own music and movies (and while it’s not the only one, it’s still pretty cool). There are festive socks, hats, sweaters, and decorations. For the most part, (if you’re not in traffic or in a store at the wrong time) people tend to be friendlier and more compassionate.
Basically, the whole Christmas season is fun for me. It’s just lovely. But most importantly, it’s the time to celebrate the birth of Christ.
To me, if it wasn’t for Jesus’ existence, no other holiday (or any day) would be worth celebrating. My life would be meaningless, and I don’t know where I’d be.
It might seem odd, at least at first, for a Christmas sermon to be about hope, but once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Consider the words to “O Little Town of Bethlehem:”
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
Jesus was the answer to the Jews’ hope for a Messiah. They’d heard of His coming for such a long time. I imagine many were ready to give up on it until Mary brought Jesus into this world. I also imagine their hope was rekindled upon hearing of or seeing the boy. He was everything they hoped for and everything they feared would never come.
He’s our hope as well. He gives us hope for a better, more meaningful life. We live in a world where so much can go wrong and so much can drag us down to our lowest. And Jesus is the One that keeps us going despite all of that and lets us know that, somehow, it’ll all be okay.
The really outstanding thing about Jesus’ life is that no one part of it is terribly more significant than all the other parts. Obviously without the birth, none of the rest would’ve happened. If it wasn’t His death and resurrection, none of it would’ve mattered in terms of His divinity and title as the Messiah. Without Him living the life He did – free of sin, but not free of temptation – no one would’ve believed Him to be the Son of God, and His life would’ve drawn no believers to spread the word and essentially start a revolution.
For me, the life of Jesus is probably what I find most compelling about Him. He did everything with purpose. He could’ve belittled those around Him, but He chose to love and uplift them instead of condemning them. He was honest and sassy, and He had a temper at times, but not once did He use those aspects of His personality in a way that reflected negatively on His ministry or His Father.
It’s crazy to think of how many times Jesus could’ve given into temptation. There’s temptation like all of us experience, but Jesus was more than a common person. He was a leader, and He had power, and from my understanding of the way the world typically works, that only brings more temptation. Not to mention the fact that Jesus had several enemies who went out of their way to try and make Him fail.
But He never did. Not even once.
“That’s nice and all, but I’m not Jesus, so what hope does that give me?”
Don’t be so hard on yourself; none of us are Jesus. And please don’t think anyone expects you to be exactly like Him. That’s a level of perfection none of us can reach and a heavy goal to pursue.
If you just think about how imperfect you are, you’ll just feel awful. But if you think about how perfect Jesus is and how He lives in you, you’ll start to see it differently. 1 John 4:4 (NLT) says, “But you belong to God…. You have already won a victory…because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who is in the world.”
My dear, I believe you have the power to overcome temptation and any problem you’ll face because the love and power of Christ resides within you.
“But Carrie, you don’t know my problems. You don’t know my history and my past, what I’ve done and what I’m prone to do. I’ve got some wounds, and I also have scars.”
I may not know your problems, but I do know God, and there is literally nothing He can’t handle. There is no issue, addiction, or hard heart that’s too much for Him. And believe me, there is no personal past or history that can stop His love for you. He’s already moved on from it, and I believe He wants you to do the same.
Scars are a beautiful thing. They can be gruesome and hard to look at sometimes, but they’re beautiful.
They tell a story. Each story is different, but the premise is always the same. You were hurt. The details of that experience are unique – who, how, when, and why. Then you were healed. It may have happened quickly or it may have taken some time, maybe even some stitches or surgery.
Regardless, here you are. You’re alive to tell the story.
Maybe you can’t get through the story without getting upset or without pausing to gather yourself. That’s okay. Healing never comes all at once. But know that without God, it wouldn’t happen at all. There’s the hope: you’re still here, and it’s not some cosmic accident that you are.
We have hope because Jesus came to life. He came into this world a crying, screaming baby boy, but He was so much more. He’s still living within us each and every day. He doesn’t cry, although we may break His heart at times, and there’s no need for Him to scream. The hope and love He gives us is loud enough.
By Carrie Prevette