by Richard Owens
Merry Christmas, friends! I wanted to take a small moment on Christmas Day to share what God has been placing on my heart this Christmas Season and then offer a few encouragements. God has filled me with gratitude for family, friends, and for each of you. I’m excited about what God has been and is doing in the lives of so many of you. You’ve provided me a front row seat to see the Living God transform and grow and change and even soften. That in itself fills me with wonder this Christmas Day and makes me grateful.
This Christmas Day I’m also reminded of the “why” of Christmas. Today will no doubt be marked by the full spectrum of emotions. Homes will be filled with joy and laughter as children open presents. There will be joy and laughter as family members embrace and converse and as old friends re-connect. Every time we smile today, every time we feel a burst of joy in our hearts is an opportunity to see a glimpse of the gospel. It’s a reminder that Jesus came and lived and died so we could have ultimate joy. All joy is a reverberation of the joy he came to give. The joy of being truly known and truly loved by the Father. There’s nothing like Christmas joy!
Today will also be a day marked by generosity. Some will receive far more generous gifts than they ever imagined they could, and on the other hand, some will be prompted to give more generously than they ever imagined they could! Either way, any type of generosity experienced today is an opportunity to stop and dwell on the over-the-top generosity of our Father in Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that be gave his only begotten Son.” May all generosity point us to God’s divine generosity. There’s nothing like Christmas generosity!
Finally, today will not be joyous for everyone. Today will also be hard and lonely for some. For some, today will be a day where the main emotion experienced is despair. If that is you this Christmas, then you are experiencing the very reason Jesus came that first Christmas. Jesus came to be a light in the darkness. As Paul writes, he came “in the fullness of time,” as to say, he came when the level of despair and sorrow was cranked up to 11. Despair points us to and makes us long for the “consolation of Israel,” the consoler of our souls. That despair you may feel is the exact reason Jesus came and lived and died and rose again. Because when Jesus rose, hope sprang into the world. Now, if we are in him, in joy, generosity, and especially in despair, we can join with all the saints who’ve gone before us in saying, Jesus Christ is our “hope of glory!” There is nothing like Christmas hope! Westminster, Merry Christmas! I love you, and am praying for you to know and experience gospel joy, generosity, and hope today!