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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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In CS Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which will be on our movie screens from Boxing Day, the land of Narnia is under a curse that means that it is always winter but never Christmas. Of course, it is never winter at Christmas time in Australia, but we can nevertheless understand what a terrible curse this is! Narnia is stuck in hard times, with no cause for celebration. Its creatures are suffering, with no highlight to look forward to.
Like the Narnians, many Australians will be doing it tough this Christmas. For some, it is a time when relationships are strained to the limit, when the cracks in our marriages, our families and our friendships seem to widen. For others, the strain is financial, as we see what the neighbours have and we don’t. Yet others find it difficult to join in the festivities because the world just doesn’t seem like somewhere worth celebrating. Wars, hurricanes and child poverty press in on our hearts and minds, refusing to be pushed aside, even for a day.
My challenge to you this Christmas is to lift your eyes from your daily struggles and see what lies around the corner. To the great surprise of the children in CS Lewis’s story, Father Christmas turns up in Narnia to hand out gifts. His appearance is a sign that the curse on the land is breaking, and a better world is on its way.
Of course, this is just a story, but it points to an event in history that we must understand in order to have any hope at Christmas time. The birth of Jesus around 2000 years ago was the beginning of a new hope for the people of the world. It was like the first spring flower pushing through the winter snow—the first sign that things were looking up.
Christians believe that Jesus was a gift to the world from God himself, to give us hope.
When Father Christmas handed out gifts in Narnia, he didn’t indulge the children with toys they didn’t need or appreciate. Rather, his gifts prepared them for the battle ahead with the dark forces they would confront.
In the same way, the Bible tells us that in Jesus God gave us a gift we desperately need. The Gospel of Luke records for us the words of one man called Simeon, who saw the young Jesus, took him in his arms and said “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people”.
Jesus was sent to rescue us from sin and judgement (that’s what salvation means), to make God known to us, and to assure us that God is not off in his heaven ignoring us, but is closely involved with our world and our troubles.
But the gift must be acknowledged—if you ignore God’s gift, you do so at your peril, for without Jesus there is no clear hope to see you through the wintry days.
Christmas should focus our thoughts on where we are headed. I urge you to take time this Christmas to acknowledge God’s gift of Jesus, to read about him in the New Testament, and to understand how he has broken the curse of sin and guaranteed those who trust him a better future.
Next entry (above): Mark Shea on Christmas—The Gospel According to Steve Martin
Previous entry (below): More Music for Christmas—the Amazing William Dutton
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