I suppose if most of us were asked for a word that best sums up Christmas – apart from “Jesus” – many of us might offer the word “gift” or some derivative like “give” or “giving”. And I am sure some religious soul would come up with “turkey” or “Santa Claus”. There’s always one!
I want to offer a different word that captures something of the spirit of the first Christmas, if not Christmas in the present day in the Western world.
The word? Trust. Let me explain.
You might already be racing ahead and thinking of how God trusted Mary and Joseph with His Son. Well, that might seem to be true from a human perspective. But I am going to leave that for you to ponder, lest this suggestion be seen to detract from God’s omniscience: He knew exactly, it could be argued, how Mary and Joseph would respond therefore, it is inaccurate to say that God the Father had to exercise trust in human beings when He sent His Son into the world. I have much sympathy with that argument.
No, the trust that I am thinking of is the trust that some of the central characters needed that first Christmas. They needed it to follow where God was leading and what He was doing in entering the world in the person of His Son Jesus.
It goes without saying that Mary’s calling as the mother of Christ required huge trust. She might have had a visit from an angel, but don’t kid yourself for one moment that it meant that any uncertainty disappeared or that she didn’t feel any pain from the gossip that was sparked by the unusual circumstances of Jesus’ conception and birth.
Trust was also required of Joseph. He might have been reassured by a supernatural experience about his fiancee’s supernatural pregnancy, but that was only the beginning of something much bigger. A journey to Bethlehem – at the worst possible time for Mary. A journey into the unfamiliar and undesired location that was Egypt. And then a journey back to Nazareth.
The amazing thing is that behind all of those stories and “trust points”, God was working to a plan, for, through what seemed like unforeseen circumstances, the scriptures were being fulfilled.
I could add the experience of the Magi to make my case, but it’s not necessary.
Trust is everywhere in the nativity stories.
What is my point? Simply, amongst the many things the Christmas story teaches us – many of cosmic significance – it teaches us to trust God and it teaches us that we can trust God.
You can trust God. Whatever is going on in your life or your world this Christmas, you can trust God. And in all of those unforeseen circumstances, God is somehow in His infinite wisdom fulfilling a plan that somehow has cosmic significance. Whatever you do as we approach Christmas, trust the One whom Christmas is all about. Trust Him, whatever is going on in your life at this moment. Trust Him, because you can.