Christmas, it is a season of contrasts. On the one hand commercial Christmas is crazy busy for many of us. We are running around trying to prepare everything for everyone and never seem to have enough time to get it done. But on the other hand it can be a time of great sadness and loneliness for others. Our friends and family are no longer present, our job is not as stable as it once seemed, indeed the sounds and sights of the season sometimes repel us.
It is a season of contrasts because many of our society will spend well beyond their means, maxing credit cards to achieve a feeling that will last a second and disappear for a lifetime. Yet at the same time many in our cities and villages do not have a place of security and warmth to rest their heads.
It is a season of contrasts for many because all we see is darkness. Outside is cold and wet and dark. The media consistently show us pictures of atrocities which are consuming the world around us both locally and globally. We cannot cope with the things we see and so we forget them and operate as normal, pushing these things to the side. But for much of the world this is their reality; the constant fear of darkness looms.
But in the midst of all of this darkness we must remember that it is a season of contrasts. Light is always waiting to shatter the darkness. And this is what we see at the coming of the Lord Jesus. He is the light of life for all people across the whole world; “In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4-5). Do you think that there is no light to break the darkness in your life? This is not true. Jesus is the light of life and his coming means that you can turn to him. Darkness does not defeat his life giving, darkness shattering presence.
But maybe we are feeling quite good about this Christmas. Things are going well and life is working nicely. What we need to ask ourselves is this; are the things I have put all my hope in going to produce everlasting, eternal joy? Buying and consuming produces pleasure for a short time. Relationships can quickly change. Stability is not always as secure as we think.
But there is everlasting joy in knowing the presence of God in our lives. When Mary hears that she is the mother of the son of God this is what she says, “My soul magnifies the lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour” (Luke 1:46). She expresses the reality of ecstatic joy in knowing that the God of the bible is actually the real, living, personal God. Do you know him? Real, lasting joy comes from the child of the season. He is the welcome contrast that our throw-away, consumerist society desperately desires because he provides true joy, eternal salvation from our sin and lasting security in the midst of everyday life.
So in this season of contrasts will you live in the light of life that has been given for you? In the midst of fleeting joy and passing contentment will you find that true, lasting Joy comes only from the giver of joy, Jesus Christ?