The Hope of Christmas and the New Year
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
Dear Church Family,
I remember well the anticipation of the Christmas season as a child. We lived in South Georgia with no expectation of snow, yet the very magic of Christmas brought a sense of hope; maybe, just maybe, this will be the year! Yet, there were so many things to hope for besides presents and snow. Growing up in a Methodist parsonage, the emphasis was always on the birth of Jesus and the heavenly message that surrounded the story. I always held on to the hope that angels would somehow appear in the sky singing and telling about the baby Jesus, even if there was no snow. Of course, I always hoped for the snow that never came, the sled rides, and the building of a snowman named Frosty.
However, over the years, these hopes had somehow turned into impossibilities. They would never happen! Those early hopes soon were replaced by other impossibilities in the world of a child growing up. And as we move into the adult world, we find out quickly there are many impossibilities even as we continue to hope. Yet, we can depend on Christmas to bring us hope in the face of impossibilities because the hope that it brings comes from outside of ourselves and outside of this world.
The list of impossibilities seems endless. Ending wars in so many countries, violence and senseless killings on our streets and in our schools, deaths of all ages from addictions, lack of cooperation in our political world, child and domestic abuse. Having more money at the end of the month, healing relationships that have fallen apart. All seem like impossibilities even as we hope and pray!
The Christmas season is a time in which so many of us are made clearly aware of the power of hope for the impossibilities in our world, both personal and global. When we take a look at the biblical story from creation to final revelation, we see the impossibilities which presented themselves and the hope that changed them into the possible. The Jesus-story is a story of the miraculous power of a God who can make possible the things we think impossible. The healings, the miracles, the incarnation, the resurrection, and the empty grave point to the unexplainable and unbelievable, which can only be embraced and believed through the power of a transformed heart and mind. Remember Jesus’ words, “…with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)
Someone once said, Jesus came into the world through a door marked “no entrance,” a virgin womb. He left through a door marked “no exit,” a tomb of death. Two great impossibilities made possible in Jesus Christ. Nobody had ever walked through those doors before: a virgin womb and a sealed tomb. In Jesus Christ, the world’s greatest impossibilities are made into possibilities.
There are wonderful things about this Christmas season. We think of giving gifts to each other, sharing with those in need, hearing wonderful music, breathing in the amazing sights and sounds of the season, and the foods that help define Christmas. I can even think of the snow that I always hoped for, the snowman named Frosty, and the sled rides. The special church services, the family time around the tree as the presents are opened; all these things are so special to us all.
But Advent and Christmas are about so much more. They are about the incarnation, death, resurrection, and the return of Jesus. This is the story that can re-frame our lives, transform how we live, and give us hope in the middle of the impossibilities of our daily living. Don’t let this season catch you in the net of despair. Don’t get trapped in the web of cynicism. Don’t get swallowed up by all the impossibilities. Instead, remember that it is the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, which forces us to remember that all of the “impossibilities” of this world have been re-framed by the hope of Jesus Christ!
Christmas is about hope and the New Year is all about fresh possibilities!
Rev. Tim McConnell
Pastor of Congregational Care
O 828.456.3993 Ext 20