Recently, at a Christmas party I found myself describing to someone one of the things I love about Christmas: the reminder in the Christmas story that God moves towards us, to be near us, to be with us. They responded with two questions: “what is God like?” and “how can we know what He is like?” Our conversation got interrupted, and I don’t remember what I said. But I will remember their questions. Great questions.
We are so small and the universe so big that the only way for us to know what God is like would be if He chose to reveal something about Himself to us. There are a number of different ways in which God reveals Himself, like through the beauty of what He has made (something I often think of when I see people walking along the seafront enjoying the vast expanse of the sea or beauty of the sunset.)
The staggering thing about the Christmas story is the claim that the main way God has chosen to reveal Himself is in a person. The person of Jesus Christ. The babe of Bethlehem.
What is God like, and how do we know what He is like? The apostle John answers both questions by encapsulating the Christmas story (what theologians call the ‘Incarnation’) like this: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (Jesus Christ), who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” ( John 1:18).
So it is through Jesus Christ that we most clearly see what God is like. And what do we see? Amazingly, we see that the Great Almighty God is willing to humble Himself and be born a baby – to become a man – in a broken world. It reveals His compassion and love as He draws near us, to be Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’, from Matthew 1:23). One who is accessible to all, rich and poor (the wise men and the shepherds), young and old. One who comes not to condemn but to save.
“Today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born to you”, said the angels to the shepherds. God is a God who saves, who brings hope where there is despair, peace where there is anxiety, and light where there is darkness.
I hope that our Candlelight Carol services (at 6:30pm on 15th and 22nd of Dec) and Kids’ Carol Service (at 3:30pm on 21st of Dec) as well as other church community gatherings will help to demonstrate and communicate something of this wonderful Christmas message.
May you know God’s blessing on you and those close to you this Christmas. If you are in Brighton you’d be welcome to our family service at 10:30am on Christmas morning.
Hope you have a happy New Year too. Do join us in January as we seek to bring hope and light to our city.
One of the ways we are doing this in the new year is by helping provide a night shelter for the homeless (see article for details). If you would like to help with this do contact the church office.
My prayer this Christmas is that whatever you are facing at this time of year, reflecting on the Christmas story will help you identify more clearly what God is like, and see that He wants you to be able to know Him more and be with Him. That is why He came. He came to us so that we could come to Him.
Enjoy your Christmas celebrations.