Christmas and New Years have always been my favorite season of the year, even long before I knew why we celebrated Christmas. It has always been a season of love between friends. In my village in Haiti, it is a weeklong celebration. We understand Christmas to be on December 24-25 and New Year’s Eve to be on the31st, and January 1st is New Year’s Day and our Independence Day. I have more memories about these holidays than any other seasons in the year. There were no presents except wearing the best clothes our parents brought us during the year. Yes, we visited our uncles and aunts for candy. The most important things are the memories we build. Every year kids in our part of town would spend the whole 31st of December cooking food and hanging out for the whole night without sleeping. When my generation of friends and I got to be the ones holding the feast, we spent about six months preparing for it. We cut down trees to make charcoal to sell and worked for our parents to earn rice. This season brought us together in such a unifying way, it was beyond transparent when one walks in the village to feel the peace and the unity in the midst of drinking, talking and dancing.
This is not the reason why I celebrate Christmas today. As amazing as those memories are, Christmas means more to me now than it ever has in the past. All these times in the past I never took the time to enjoy and reflect on the true everlasting and timeless gift that God has given me. I am not the only who has been given this gift. We all have. I want to remind you of that. Our Christmas gift consists of a love we don’t deserve, a peace we could never have, and a joy which surpasses our circumstances made possible by grace. It is by God’s grace that Christmas is made possible. The greatest gift to man of all time is the incarnate Christ. Luke tell us, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). God come to live among us, and to save us.
May we be intentional about contemplating God’s love as we enter into this season and look forward to the New Year. John reminds us, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). God didn’t simply send Christ or come to live among us. He come to bring us salvation so that we may live through Christ. There are no loves or gifts to compare with this act. He sent his ONLY SON. No one deserves that. We did not love him first. He loves us first. May we experience his love this season.
Today God reveals his grace to us and blesses us with a peace we could never have. The angels spread the good news through praising God saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). We now can have peace with God. We no longer need to be afraid. The peace we have is a special kind of peace. It is not temporary calmness, but it is the fullness of our salvation. We can stand firm above our present circumstances and chaos without shaking. This is not a season of sorrow. Regardless of our circumstances, we should sing with the angels, shouting, “glory to God and peace among us.” Where there is peace, there is possibility for joy.
The angels said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10). Where there is joy there is no place for fear. There is joy here, Don’t be afraid, the angels told them. Christ is the embodiment of love, joy, and peace. There is no reason for you not to be joyful this season. If I could celebrate Christmas eighteen years ago with such gladness and joy, how much more should I be joyful today now that I have encountered Christ. If the world can enjoy Christmas, how much more should we enjoy Christmas. “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20). They were shepherds, the less fortunate in the eyes of the world, but God touched them with the reality of his grace and they boasted about God in worship. This is what Christmas is about. It is coming in touch with God’s grace. I pray that you feel it. The story of Christmas should help us rise above our circumstance. We have received an unconditional love we don’t deserve, a peace we could never gain in our own power, and an unquenchable joy by God’s grace. Let us celebrate Christmas with love, peace, and joy today. Christmas invites us to glorify God. Merry Christmas to you and love to you all.