I hope you enjoyed a blessed Christmas! This week between Christmas and the new year is always a nebulous week for me. For pastors, it’s a time of recovery from what is often a lot of worship celebrations in a short period of time (five in three days for me…but I knew that when I signed up!). For families, it’s a balancing act between visiting relatives and keeping kids from being bored or fighting with their siblings; now that Christmas is over, “naughty or nice” has gone out the window for some children! For some people, it’s a heavy travel time, with highways busy and airports crowded. And for some of us, the week gets clouded even more because our birthdays fall during that week. (Mine happens to be today.)
Too often, amid all that, the Reason For The Season gets left behind. Christmas helps us to focus on Jesus as our Saviour. But if we’re not too careful, as time goes on, Jesus gets relegated to a lesser place than he deserves.
In my message this Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, I’m going to say something I think bears repeating more widely. I’ll quote Old Testament scholar John Oswalt, who said, “When we think the solution to our problems is to be found within ourselves, we are liable to think of God as an assistant or a fall-back device.” And in this state, we think we do not need a Saviour. We may need a teacher or a friend, but we do not need a Saviour. That’s why, in part, Christmas has become this strange combination of consumerism and romanticism.
Jesus has become ancillary to the celebration of Christmas, because the concept of a Saviour seems unnecessary. We, as the church, will be used by God to turn that around, because humanity is in deep need of a Saviour, in deep need of the Saviour, the one who is called Jesus the Christ, who came to save us from our sins. We may be saved by grace, but we still sin (well, at least, I do).
So, as the memory of Christmas services fades into the past for another year, and a new year stands on the horizon, let me encourage you to keep Jesus’ place as Saviour in the forefront. Remember that you need him as Saviour. Remember that your loved ones who are far from God need him as Saviour. Remember that “this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16, NLT).
I wish you a happy and blessed new year. And may you know the delight of Jesus as your Saviour all year.
Encouragement From The Word returns on January 11.