A hope that lasts
A promise for the world
On a hillside in Judea, an angel turned up out of the inky blue sky to announce something very different. Shepherds were on that hill with their sheep, like normal. In recent weeks, they'd heard people talking about the old promises again. The promises spoke of a boy to come who would change the world, for better, forever – but who was to know what that would look like? Nothing had changed for generations.
But this night it would; this night there would be joy and the beginning of something new.
A promise of joy?
Shops everywhere are filled with stuff now: we're building up with our festive coffees, secret santas, sweaty Christmas jumpers and buying this and that, or just that, all over again. And the music's playing everywhere! Here it is! Merry Christmas!
There’s the promise of joy as the tree goes up and as we wrap presents. The tinkly bells on adverts tell us that the time has come again to put on happiness, joy and peace.
But, when the tree goes down and I have just an average amount of fairy lights up in the house again, what is it that will keep me going into another January?
A lasting hope
A few miles away from the shepherd’s hill, a baby had been born, very unceremoniously, to parents who were 'making do'. But despite the lack of ceremony, this was no ordinary child – God had arrived in the world as a human and He had settled Himself among the dirt, normality and difficulty of the everyday. There may have been little in the way of tinsel in the stable, but momentous hope, nevertheless, had just arrived. And there was an angel shining before the shepherds, saying, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’
The thing with Christmas is that, for most people, the feelings don’t last. We get excited about the festivities and then, when they’re over, so is the joy and so is the hope. But Jesus brings this hope in a new way.
He is the living, walking, dying, rising embodiment of it. Because, with Jesus, there is a place at the feast for anyone who would come. With Him there’s an end to the darkness; just as the angels lit up the hillside, so He does our lives. And His light can’t go out – we will never be left in darkness again, no matter what this year has done to us or what the next brings. Jesus gives us hope for a future where brokenness is banished, and only unshakeable love remains.
This Christmas we have the joy of being able to rest in a God who hasn’t left us to our dirt, but who is redeeming the world piece by piece.
A message worth sharing
Now, the message of good news didn’t need decoration, but heaven couldn’t help it; an army of angels burst onto the grass to celebrate Jesus saying, ‘All glory to God in the highest!’. And I’m joining in, I can think of no better answer for God to gives us than Jesus, and no greater joy!
We get to be the news bringers now, God gives us this message for all people. Last year, I stood outside the Cathedral in Sheffield with stewards wearing fairy light strings, welcoming student after student to the CU carol service. I didn’t know most of them, but I did meet Will, a student who would become a Christian the following February. We didn’t know what God would do but our job was to share the message of hope and share we did: the gospel went out from ordinary people to their friends. Through this message of good news, Will found great joy in Jesus for himself, a message he’s now sharing with anyone who wants to know.
This isn’t the kind of message we can put away: it's better news than the Back Friday deal you found, bigger news even than a Christmas number one or an election result. Even as Christmas celebrations come and go, it’s news of lasting joy that will last through to January, the whole year and the whole new decade too.
Let’s share this message of hope boldly this Christmas!
Heavenly Father, thank you that Christmas is a time for us to celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, good news of lasting hope and joy. Throughout December and beyond, please give us boldness to share this news with those around us, and please bring many into new life we pray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Watch this video to get thinking about the meaning of Christmas:
Share your Christmas stories on social media using #CUChristmas
Pray for CU carol services at uccf.org.uk/christmas
Katie Shaw is a CU Staff Worker in Sheffield working with Uni of Sheffield CU and Sheffield Hallam CU. She loves talking with people about how faith in Jesus impacts every moment of student life. In her spare time, she can be found roaming the peaks, drinking tea and dancing on the kitchen tiles.