Did it really snow all the way from Christmas to February? When I recall my childhood in the north of England it seems that it did. I could never explain why, when as a very young child and right through my growing up years, my eyes would fill with unshed tears at the sight of the Nativity scene in the local church. Or why the sound of carol singers brought a lump to my throat. There was an awesomeness I couldnít quite understand, yet it was almost tangible. I loved the great big Christmas tree in the centre of town, the coloured lights, the school party and that glorious anticipation of wonderful things to come. Once the tinsel covered tree was in place and the little wooden Nativity scene displayed on the dresser, unfamiliar aromas would begin filling the house. The scents of spices from the traditional Christmas pudding mix, the smell of mince pies baking in the oven. Chestnuts, tangerines, apples and nuts spilled out from oversized bowls and the cupboards overflowed with what was necessary for the big day. Anticipation of longed for gifts mingled with the delight of pantomimes, Carol services and the traditional visit from Santa on the last day of school. When the big day came excitement reached a crescendo. Presents were opened, the love of chocolate indulged, crackers pulled and the traditional Christmas dinner filled us to bursting. Then it was over and there was nothing left, except a feeling of emptiness, of something missing. A week later the tree would be packed away, along with the Nativity scene. Jesus forgotten, returned to the loft for another year.
In later years Christmas seemed to come around just a little bit quicker. There were presents to buy for the children and shopping for those extras we only had at Christmas; the anticipation of a Midnight Carol Service we always seemed to miss and the promise of the special church service on Christmas morning, that in reality we were always too busy to attend. Yet there was still that feeling of awesomeness, that glorious anticipation about Christmas I could never quite understand, but that never lived up to expectations. Yet every year I faithfully did all that Christmas demanded of me. And every year it was the same. There was always something missing.
Then one year it was different. The mystery and awe of Christmas became more exciting than ever before. I had found what was missing. The reality of Jesus Christ. The awesomeness and anticipation of something incredible happening at Christmas became tangible. I could touch it with my heart. Without doubt I knew that on that first Christmas morning something miraculous happened. God sent His Son to this earth, born as an ordinary child, to ordinary parents. The difference being that he was Godís Son, born of a chosen virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit. God sent Him for a purpose. John chapter 3 verse 16 says,
ĎFor God so loved the world that he gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting lifeí.
Christmas is celebrated throughout the world at different times and in different seasons, but the miracle stays the same and always lives up to expectations. The absolute joy of celebrating our Saviourís birth. The absolute certainty of the truth of the Bible and the love of God manifest in the greatest gift of all; Jesus Christ, who is with me every day, not just at Christmas. And we can accept the greatest gift of all at any time.
The Christmas season comes and goes, but the miracle and reality of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, lives on, forever faithful, forever welcoming whoever will turn to Him.