And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth, goodwill to all people. Luke 2:13 & 14
Many years ago I officiated at the funeral of a man in his nineties. In the cemetery, I was struck by the fact that his children (all of them in their seventies and late sixties) wept bitterly, several of them crying out for their father. I remember chatting with a grandson of the deceased, a man in his mid-fifties, as we left the cemetery. He was shaking and could not compose himself. He recounted to me that, in his fifty-five years, he had never seen his father cry, much less weep bitterly or become hysterical. He spoke fondly of his late grandfather and his father. He told me that because of the impact that his grandfather had made on the family, he would live on forever in his everyday life even though his mortal remains were being buried that day.
In the crowd someone made a comment, “He jus´ an ol' man. Why dey cryin' so much? His life ´over. Bury him and move on!”
That was far from the way that the family saw it: the burial was not just an end of a life, but more so the beginning of the rest of their lives, having had so great a legacy passed on to them.
I was deeply moved by the whole experience that day, and could not help but reflect on a number of things: A) The deceased must have been some father. B)
He obviously made a tremendous and fundamental impression on his children if in their sixties and seventies they could weep so inconsolably. C) Often this is how it is in life: sometimes the greatest influences go unobserved or are not fully appreciated or understood in the first instance, but their impact is earth-shaking and far-reaching.
We live in two beautiful countries, The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands. Human life is wonderful and so is actually being alive. However, our current experience brings with it so many challenges that can cause us to forget that beauty: noise, busyness, pressure, demands, screens (smart phone, computer and television), fast-paced living, hatred, insensitivity, crime, violence, inhumanity, economic challenges, VAT, gaming, disappointing leadership, numbness, disillusionment, emptiness, meaninglessness, loss of values, the questioning of faith and the absence of spirituality in some quarters. But it is into the midst of all of this that the Christ-Child comes.
Such challenges cause many people not to have a positive outlook. They do not see a loving God. The do not see a Christmas that speaks of the joy of the Christ-child, or of the hope He comes to bring. They view Christmas only as a season for gifts, decorations, spending time with family and friends, and doing good to others. They do not see it as a spiritual festival and the Christ-Child is of no relevance or usefulness in the now.
Christmas is not about the burial of an old man who is dead, to be deposited in the cemetery. It is about a promise of God’s future for the world given in the life of a baby born to change the world. A baby is a symbol of new life, hope, a positive future and endless possibilities. That is why Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world as an infant: to make the point that in God there are bright futures and endless possibilities promised to the human race. All of these were delivered in the life, ministry and witness of Jesus about thirty years after his birth. They were experienced by those who embraced Him and His message, and who sought to live by His rules.
Jesus’ love, His peace and goodwill to all people are still seen today in the lives of those who seek to follow Him and to live by His principles. This is what we are called to do this Christmas and every Christmas, and throughout the year.
What that means for us is that in the face of all of the challenges we cannot lose hope. We cannot believe that our two nations do not have a bright future. We must believe that the Christ of Christmas is a promise of victory in spite of the crime, the cost of living, the inhumanity that some display or anything else that disturbs us.
Plan to welcome this celebration and to let it touch your heart and change your life.
Consider what life would be like WITHOUT occasions such as Christmas which remind us of giving, sharing, spending time together and celebrating what is good about life and living.
Ask yourself what Christmas means to you. Imagine what would happen if you gave it its true meaning in your life. Rekindle your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Seek to show Him forth in your life so that others may experience His love through you. In this way Christmas will be a way of life and not just an event.
This is what “peace on earth and good to all people” means.
My family and I wish you all a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year