We draw to the end of the year with the horrific memories and images of the Paris terrorist attacks, refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe and those killed making perilous journeys still emblazoned on our minds.
We look to a New Year in the hope that things will be better, not just personally, but that the world also will be a more peaceful and loving place. But it can only be that if we make it so.
Love has the power to change everything and Christmas is a reminder of that. Christmas is an invitation into the most powerful love story ever told, into God’s extravagant love. God loved us so much he sent his Son Jesus Christ down to our level. “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” In Jesus we know hopelessness and despair don’t have the last word.
In doing this God was expressing himself in a language we can understand, identifying himself with our frailties and tragedies.
Jesus experience things we experience, understands what we feel and why. God was getting up close and personal and announcing to the world ‘I am here’. Jesus is the supreme affirmation of the value of human existence; it demonstrates God’s identification with us, particularly in our weakness and suffering .
Here the Gospel speaks with universal relevance because for the great mass of humanity life is difficult and many have given up hope. But Jesus says to them and to all of us: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
People loved being around Jesus, they followed him, invited him to their homes, they touched him.
Why? He wasn’t a pile of stones in a particular place, a statue or a priest in an elevated pulpit.
He was ‘Here amongst us’ and he loved us. That love transformed the lives of millions and it can do so today.
This Christmas we will receive many gifts, more than we probably need, most we could probably live without. But there’s one present you can’t do without – love.
For Christians it’s the love and presence of Jesus Christ, the one who shows us God, the one who feels and heals our hurts, touchable, approachable and reachable, ‘The God that is here’.
As you enjoy family time together over Christmas, pause to remember and think of those who aren’t experiencing the love of someone else or God.
Even if we can’t love them in person, we can hold them in the love of our hearts and prayers that should move us to action to support and care and love the most vulnerable throughout the world. Christmas shows us God is committed to us in love; we should be equally committed to each other in love and that can change the world.