This year has flown by. The UK is in shock, because Brexit has actually happened; war is raging across the world and lives are being lost; anything goes, and murder stalks the streets in broad daylight, and the US has just – against all odds – elected Donald J Trump as its new President. All around us there is change, and seemingly not for the better. The season has also changed: winter is upon us; the evenings are darker; it’s getting colder, and we are beginning to retrieve our woolly hats, warm coats and gloves.
At this time of the year, however, there is always an air of expectancy and excitement. Millions of people are eagerly looking forward to the latter part of December – that period of time called Christmas.
As a pastor, one of the many questions I am asked every year is: “What do I think of Christmas?” Over the years, we have seen, heard and possibly got involved in the countless arguments pertaining to the origin of Christmas. We argue whether it’s a pagan festival or whether we should give each other gifts. There are opinions as to the actual date – Was Christ actually born on 25th December? – or whether Christ even existed!
As a Christian, it is first and foremost more important for me to know that Christ came to earth as a Baby and that, as a Man, He showed us many examples as to how we should live our lives, before He died in order that you and I can have eternal life. He may well have been born at any other time of the year – spring, summer or autumn – however, the important thing to know and be sure of is that He came. I take this time to reflect on how He came and why He came; His birth is very important to me, the date is not. My remembrance of Him, my worship to Him… they are a continual part of my life. My service to Him does not depend on the date or day He was born into this world.
Have you ever thought to yourself, what an amazing event? Whether you are a Christian or not, almost everyone has heard or is aware of the story of the birth of Jesus – and that’s a great thing.
The Christmas period is also a time where we are more mindful, and think of others less fortunate than ourselves: those who have lost everything and are without homes and loved ones; the many abandoned children, who have never experienced the love of a parent; the elderly person alone with their memories, and the sick and infirm. If you have never done so, why not take a moment out of your time to not only think of someone in need, but to actively get up out of your comfort zone and help? I can tell you, it’s such a reward.
Many people enjoy Christmas because it’s a time for families; we have our memories of childhood past; we create new memories for our children and grandchildren. We make an effort to put aside disagreements, to laugh and enjoy each other’s company. I am no different. Every year, without fail, I get together with my family, my parents, siblings and extended family to do just that. However, as we are all Christians, we especially never forget why we are gathered together. We reflect on what we have – we have fun and laughter, give each other gifts – but we never forget to thank Jesus, or forget that He is the Reason for the season and the Centre of who we are and everything we do.
At Eden Christian Centre, we ensure that we celebrate by reminding ourselves of the birth of Christ, by bringing our worship in songs and reading the stories in the Bible relating to His birth. We make hampers for the needy, and look out for people in the community. We reiterate the fact that God loves everyone and He is our greatest example.
Let us make this a season of peace and goodwill. Let us love our fellow brother – regardless of race or creed – and, if you find that difficult, I’m sure our heavenly Father will help you. And, when you start questioning whether December 25th is the date Christ actually came, remember the reason you are here is because He came – regardless.
Bryon Jones is the Senior Pastor of Eden Christian Centre in Ilford [edencc.co.uk]. He is also a worship leader, and his album, ‘Forever’, is available to buy at bryonjones.co.uk or iTunes.