“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
Hope, Peace, Joy, Love – these words are ingrained into the meaning of Christmas, they sum up all the best of our celebrations, they remind us what this season is all about.
The Hopes and Fears of All the Years are met in Thee Tonight…
Hope is our attitude toward the future. Hope, in its essence, is the same substance as faith. It is believing God. That’s the substance of hope. It is trusting God. The only difference is faith is believing God in the present, and hope is believing God for the future. Faith believes what God has said, what God has done, and hope believes what God has promised yet to do. In a sense, faith then is trusting God for the present, hope is trusting God for the future…both are trusting God. To put it another way, faith accepts, hope expects. Faith appropriates and hope anticipates. Faith believes God for what He has done and hope believes God for what He will do. Indeed, Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:10, “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people.”
Peace on Earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled…
Peace refers to more than just the absence of war, the Hebrew word “Shalom” suggests wholeness or a state of unity among God, humanity, and creation. It is important to remember that the Hebrew understanding of God’s creation is not that God created out of nothing, but that in the face of chaos, with its power to destroy and render all things meaningless, God brought order and peace. In the midst of our chaos, with it’s power to destroy our lives and lose our meaning, God has sent His Son. Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:19 “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,” so that now “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come…
Joy is a feeling that cannot be contained. When you are happy, it serves you well; but joy overflows and affects even those around you. Joy is that condition of inner delight one feels when overcome with blessedness and grace. Like the mother, holding her newborn child, forgetting the pain of delivery because of the sheer joy of having her child; this is the overwhelming joy we have in Christ. C.K. Chesterton once wrote, “There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth, and I have sometimes fancied that it was His joy” (Orthodoxy). Jesus came to make the joy of heaven known on earth. In the parable of the lost coin we read “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). In fact, in John’s gospel Jesus said “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light…
Love is the greatest of all the gifts we receive at Christmas, for Christ came from the very heart of God. John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Romans 5:8 teaches that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no greater testimony of God’s love for us than what we find on Christmas morning. As the poem by Christina Rossetti says:
Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas – star and angels gave the sign.