‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9:6)
Today is Christmas Day – the day when many people the world over celebrate the birth of Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the world. This is what Christians believe. In 1741, Frideric Handel shared this good news when he composed Messiah, ‘originally [as] an Easter offering. It burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742.’ (www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Glorious-History-of-Handels-Messiah.html)
Nowadays, Messiah is a staple of Christmas song and celebration. It is staged in concert halls, played on radio and television stations, sung in churches and by carollers, and hummed by the populace. Messiah is divided into three parts, and charts the main events of Jesus’ life: from the prophecies concerning His birth; the celebration of His birth and commemoration of His death; to Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Handel’s oratorio also tells of God’s promise of eternal life through the power of Jesus’ resurrection; His final conquest over death; and His acclamation both in heaven and on earth as Redeemer of the world.
The great thing about Messiah is that it tells a true story. It is a story that is so simple, yet so powerful that it has ricocheted down the generations and influenced the way that many of us live. Either we can reject Jesus as Messiah, or accept Him as Redeemer and Saviour.
Jesus’ story is a story which offers hope to mankind. It tells us of a loving but just God, who loves us so much that He was willing to send His Son to die a painful death on the cross for us, so that we might have the opportunity of accepting Him as our Saviour and Lord, and through Him, eternal life. As Christians, we know that we can always rely on God for help and guidance in our lives. Thus, God is not simply a God of the future and afterlife, but God also of the commonplace and present: ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32) Isn’t that just so comforting?
I hope that people who celebrate Christmas this year will at least give a passing thought or more to the meaning of this special day – not because the day is special in itself, but because it is a day that has been chosen to remember the birth of Christ. I am not enamoured of the word, ‘X’mas’ because it axes ‘Christ’ from Christmas’. Yet, there would not have been a Christmas without Christ.
Christmas is special because of Jesus Christ; because of what He was sent to the world to achieve; because of what He did for mankind; and because He has given mankind hope and a future. I hope that Christmas will mean something special to you as it does for me. And I do wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas today.
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