FAITH CORNER: Remember, hope was born in the manger

The contrast was very vivid.

I was sitting in Starbucks meeting with someone from my church who was going through a particularly tough time in life. As we sat and spoke, I couldn’t help but notice the background music filling the small corner of the shop. It was, of course, Christmas music. The song that was playing was “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” And, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Not really!”

I know the gist of the song is that as winter presses on and the weather changes and snow begins to fall, it starts to look a lot like what we envision Christmas to be. But I couldn’t help but overlay the words of the song with the words I was hearing from my friend: hard words; tough words; words of pain and of grief; certainly not “tidings of comfort and joy.” He was stressed. Life was exerting downward pressure on him. If Christmas looks like constant joy and happiness, then no, it was not looking a lot like Christmas. And unfortunately, because of where we are economically and socially today, many are in the same boat as this gentleman. Christmas 2010 for many is shaping up to be a tough and somewhat depressing time.

But there is another message in Christmas which goes much deeper than the superficial thrill of snowflakes falling and colored lights and mistletoe. There is a great message of hope in Christmas. In fact, hope IS the message of Christmas. In Matthew’s gospel, the first chapter at verse 21 reads, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” In other words, he will accomplish what you will never accomplish on your own; forgiveness from sin. He will bridge the chasm that you can never bridge on your own. He will stand in the gap that you can never stand in. He will satisfy the payment needed on your moral account.

So this season, if you are grasping for hope in your life, if your December is shaping up to be a season of stress and frustration rather than comfort and joy, then remember the hope that was born that night in the manger. The one born that night in the city of David is the one that accomplished for you that which you could never accomplish on your own; restoring you to a right standing with God.

Now there’s a real message of hope. Now, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

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