“Where’s baby Jesus gone?!…”
By Claire Scott, 10th December 2020
Christmas 2020. For many of us, it may look very different to Christmas 2019. While friends and family meet ups have been permitted for a short period of time, no doubt there is much less freedom and choice as to how, what and when Christmas festivities will look like. For some, there is a resignation that Christmas 2020, just as the months of 2020 that have gone before, will look very different to what we expected at the start of this year. Quieter, simpler, fewer settings around the Christmas dinner table. Humbled hearts, slower paced life, simple thanks, strained relationships, financial strains and missing loved ones. These are the glad and sad realities that many people will be facing this December 25th. For others, Christmas 2020 brings the reminder of happy times and familiar traditions that drag present challenges back to past festivities, memories and celebrations. What is found there is hope, joy and gladness.
Desperate for hope and the joy of the Christmas season, many embraced putting up their Christmas decorations even earlier this year. Christmas trees popping up in lounge windows in November became a familiar sight as the UK creaked towards the end of Lockdown number 2. This has seemed like an almost defiant stance towards Covid 19, “you can take away freedom, choices, jobs, health, education and hugs, but you can’t take away Christmas”.
I am a big Christmas fan. I love all of the above: the lights, the Christmas trees, festive baking, family, games, fun and precious memories that are made. Last year in Aldi I noticed a beautiful wooden nativity set, but I decided to postpone buying it due to a toddler and 3 year old who would be sure to chew or colour with felt tip on one of the Wise Men. This year, however, was the year when I thought the Nativity characters would be safe. Feeling very proud at my eagle-eyed spotting of the sets on sale at the end of October, I stowed one away ready for the 1st December. Last night, I excitedly opened the box ready to set the scene before the kids came down this morning, only to find that baby Jesus and the sheep were missing! The sheep I could handle, I’m sure that they weren’t the most central characters to the Nativity story, but Jesus felt like a bit of a deal breaker. Despite the scene still looking beautiful, the rest of the characters still standing proudly in their designated places, the scene wasn’t complete. As beautiful as it is, the scene, and Christmas, isn’t Christmas without Jesus.
For some, Christmas this year will look wildly different from Christmas last year. For others, there will be notes of familiarity, but for all of us, there’s a need to keep Jesus at the centre. To creatively use the minds and ideas that God has given us to celebrate His extravagant Grace and gift of Jesus this Christmas time.
That might look like using an Advent nativity bible reading plan to prepare your heart in the morning, looking for ways to serve and bless the immediate neighbourhood(s) that God has placed you in. Putting a candle on the Christmas cake to celebrate Jesus’ birth (and why not sing Happy Birthday too!), watching a retelling of the Nativity story (I’d thoroughly recommend the BBC’s version that they released in 2010), and as you do asking God to speak to you afresh at the wonder of the details of His intricate plan in becoming “Emmanuel” – God with us. Light an advent candle and thank God each day for His different attributes and names: Father, Prince of Peace, Wonderful Counsellor, Light-bringer. As you exchange gifts, thank God for the best and most costly gift that has ever been given: the gift of His Son, Jesus. Walk around your immediate community or as you’re driving home from work, praying for all the homes with twinkling lights outside or that you can see on trees. Ask the Holy Spirit to show those homes the true light of Christmas time. These are just a few ideas that barely scratch the surface of creativity, but pray and be open to how God leads you!
Many people have said that 2020 wasn’t the year we expected, and in many, many ways it hasn’t been. For lots of people, faith has been tested and there have been questions of “what’s going on?” “where’s God in this?”, “when will this end?”. But just as we round up the year, God’s invitation now is the same as it was to the first visitors to the manger and has been echoed throughout 2020…”Come and see”. Come and see the real meaning of life, what you were made for and who you were made by. Come and celebrate the gift of Jesus this Christmas time. Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere: He still came in a manger, died on a cross before rising back to life again – conquering sin, shame and death. Be intentional this Christmas, seizing every opportunity to use the numerous blessings, gifts and traditions in front of you to capture your minds and hearts for Jesus. Don’t lose Jesus!