Walking With Jesus at Christmas Time

Dec 16, 2023 | Celebration and Events

By: Brian Harris

Just because it’s Christmas a whole lot of things are going to happen.

Many people will double (or treble) their calorie intake. A phenomenal number of gifts will be exchanged. Some will be greatly treasured, others will provoke a startled “Why would you think I would want that?”; several are likely to be in the socks and jocks category (useful though not inspiring) while yet others will be met with scepticism that will change to appreciation (“actually I really enjoyed that book I wouldn’t otherwise have read”, or, “once I understood the rules, I’ve started enjoying that board game”). Some might find they are at a church service – Christmas being the hook that got them to attend. Yet others will have their annual conversation with family members they don’t otherwise see – perhaps this Christmas will motivate them to change that.

For the majority, it’s an enjoyable day. Regardless of if you’re Christian or not, most think Christmas is a pretty good idea – a time for something different, and a conscious effort to be a little kinder and more generous.

We often ask sentimental questions like “why can’t it be Christmas every day?” – which have some pretty obvious answers (I’d be 207 kg heavier, bankrupt and have 2035 pairs of socks. Also, it’s only so often you can sing Oh Holy Night – glorious though it is).

Recently Baptist World Aid asked me to answer one of their “Curly Questions” – What if we stopped celebrating Christmas?  In it I say: “Too often Christmas is about self-indulgence, consumerism, false joviality and giving people things they really don’t need. That kind of Christmas is a betrayal of the Christ child born in a humble stable to poor parents living in a conquered country.” And that is absolutely true.

But there is another side. It’s the Christmas that is about changing the world. After all, isn’t this what Christmas is really about? The recognition that another reality is possible. The reminder that this is not a God forsaken world. The invitation to dive into the reality of “Emmanuel” – the transforming truth that God is with us. And the thing about God being with us is that this is a God who quietly but persistently challenges us on each step of our journey, a God who doesn’t leave us as we are. Walk with Jesus the refugee (his family fled to Egypt) and you’re never again indifferent to the plight of displaced people. Walk with the Jesus who gives us qualified permission to judge others (If you are without sin, throw the first stone), and you become a little kinder. Walk with the crucified Jesus, and you rage a little less against the suffering you endure. Walk with the resurrected Jesus, and you become a lot more courageous. You might even find the courage to do the right thing again and again and again.

Just because it’s Christmas, why not pause before you munch another mince pie and ask: “If Christmas is about Jesus being with us, where is He?” The answer is likely to be: “Closer than you imagine.” So open your eyes and ears and prepare for a completely different journey – just because it’s Christmas.