Christmas for All
Diversity and inclusiveness is a buzzword in corporates today. Special efforts are made to ensure that workplaces accommodate all types of people, without any prejudice to race, gender, language, sexual orientation, ethnicity etc. There are laws that forbid discrimination of any nature based on any of those parameters. Many progressive organisations make Diversity and Inclusiveness a strategic initiative.
Last time I spoke on the topic of Christmas, we examined the concept of VALUE and arrived at the conclusion that Christmas is the sufficient and necessary proof that God VALUEs people. He VALUEd people to such an extent that He sent his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The Alpha and Omega, the Creator of the whole universe, became Emmanuel “God with us”, so that we can have a personal relationship with Him.
Let us continue to examine the theme of what makes Christmas special. The thing that struck me most about Christmas is that it is very inclusive. The message of Christmas is for all, it does not exclude anyone. The resounding message about Christmas can be summarized in the verse “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10 ESV). The good news of great joy is meant for all the people.
Let us just examine that a bit more. Who are the people who got the Christmas message and how did they receive the same.
- The Christmas message is for the poor: This is evident from two aspects of Christmas. The message of Christmas was first told to the poor shepherds and they received it with joy and went about taking about it to others. The birthplace of Christ was in a manger, and the reason is very simple. The poor cannot enter a palace, and hence if Christmas is to be inclusive, Christ had to be borne in a place where anyone could enter. Christ could have chosen a palace to be born. But then, then the poor could not have had the pleasure of meeting him and worshipping him, because the poor cannot enter a palace.
- The Christmas message is for the rich: The message of Christmas did not stop with the poor. It did reach the rich and famous people at that time. It reached the richest man around, King Herod. It also reached the wise men who were obviously rich, as we can find out from their expensive gifts. They are also referred to as Magi or Kings. (remember the Christmas Carol we three kings) Once again, let us remember the place of birth, being a manger. Poor people could not have entered a palace, but rich people could always enter a manger. You see God did not want anyone to be left out of the opportunity to worship Jesus. God wanted that occasion to be inclusive.
- The Christmas message is for the old: There are a number of old people mentioned in the Christmas story. Starting with Zechariah the priest and his wife Elizabeth, the message reached Simeon who was preserved from death only so that he could see this miracle, and Anna, the prophetess.
- The Christmas message is for the young: We notice that Jesus’ parents themselves were young. Mary was just about 13 to 14 when she got the divine message through the Angel Gabriel. We also note that even the unborn baby John marveled at the news about the divine birth, while John was still in the womb. Later on during Jesus’ ministry He makes it clear that Children can come to him without any hinderance.
- The Christmas message is for Men: Several men are part of the Christmas story. Joseph, Zachariah, Herod, Shepherds, Wise men etc.
- The Christmas Message is for Women: Women are generally overlooked, in society. More so in ancient times. But not for the Christmas message, the message of “good news of great joy”. The first two people to hear about the message were actually women, Mary and then Elizabeth. It also reaches Anna the prophetess. You notice that God’s message of Christmas does not exclude any gender.
- The Christmas message is for the “Religious”: We see that the Christmas message is conveyed to the people who could be considered as religious workers. We see at least three clear instances in Zachariah who was a priest, and Simeon and Anna who were in the prophetic profession.
- The Christmas Message is for the non-religious: Once again, we see that the “good news of great joy” was proclaimed to people who are in all walks of life, Joseph ; a carpenter, the shepherds, a king, the wise men who were probably scholars and businessmen.
- The Christmas message is for Angels: We see that multitude of angels worship the newborn king, praising od for the miracle. Eve heavenly beings were not exempted from the Christmas message.
- The Christmas message is for the “Uneducated”: We see that the message of Christmas reaches people who have had no education, like the Shepherds. Later on, during Jesus’ ministry, we will see that Jesus chooses uneducated people to be his disciples.
- The Christmas message is for the Educated: Apart from the wise men who received the message of Christmas, we also see that during his growing up period, “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:46-47 ESV). The well educated and the scholars were not left out of the “good news of great joy” that Christmas brought to the world.
- The Christmas message is for the Jews: This is the most obvious part as most of the characters are Jews.
- The Christmas Message is for the gentiles: The Magi, or the wise men or the kings as they are referred to in various interpretations of the Christmas story were clearly non-Jews. They were gentiles. The fact that they came searching for the new born messiah proves the point that the “good news of great joy” was not meant only for the Jews. Actually, Simeon re-affirms this fact when he sees baby Jesus in the temple. ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32 ESV)
I could possibly go on and on with this list. But I think we have reasonably established the fact that the Christmas message, the “good news of great joy” is for all types of people. And when we study the life and ministry of Jesus Christ this will become even more evident.
So let us turn our attention on ourselves. Apart from the festivities that we all love to enjoy about Christmas, have we even felt that there is no deeper meaning for Christmas for us? Have we missed the personal connection with the “good news of great joy” ? Have we ever felt that the message is for someone else?
It is interesting to study how the diverse group of people received and reacted to the message of Christmas. We have Zachariah, who had to be struck dump so that he can believe. We have Joseph who had his doubts and had to be reassured through a dream to believe in the message. We have Mary who submitted to the will of God, and magnified God through a song. We have the Shepherds who not only believed in the message and made an effort to go and see the miracle, but “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them”. (Luke 2:20 ESV). We have the angels praising God by singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14 ESV). The wise men or Magi or Kings as different views put it, came with the academic interest of seeking he source of a star, but bowed down and worshipped the new born baby. King Herod considered the new baby as a potential competition and ordered the killing of several babies born during that period.
Shall we pause for a moment and think about our reaction to Christmas? Are we convinced that the message of Christmas; the “good news of great joy” is meant for us personally? Do we believe that we are included in God’s message that He VALUEs us so much that He sent His only begotten son, so that we can have eternal life? Immaterial of whether we are rich or poor, whether we are educated or uneducated, immaterial of here we hail from, immaterial of what our profession in life is, immaterial of our gender, immaterial of how spiritual we might be? God’s message is clear… it is “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (Luke 2:10 ESV).
The message of Christmas is for all the people. It is up to us to see how we react or receive or respond to this message. We have a choice to personally accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior and thus claim the eternal life that God has promised us through Christ. Or we can ignore the message of Christmas and risk losing the savior.
Let the Lord guide us to the right response this Christmas season.
I wish you all a Blessed Christmas!!