December 25: Read Isaiah 53 NLT
Christmas Day has arrived at last! Where has your faith journey taken you this Advent season? To a better understanding of God? A deeper relationship with Jesus? Perhaps a new call to action to further the Kingdom of God? Hopefully to all of these things and more!
Let us share one last journey to bring better focus to this day. During the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century in Europe, Napoleon, Emperor of France, was making war on Austria. A certain Austrian town came under interest, and he wanted to capture it. As the town had no strong defense forces guarding it, Napoleon ordered a small part of his army to break away from the main force and journey to the town to seize it. The French forces arrived on Christmas Eve and prepared for the attack the next day.
As news reached the town of the approaching French forces, panic spread as the town people feared the worst. The local minister told the people to be unafraid and have faith. (Oh, don’t these words sound so familiar to us? The angel spoke these words to so many of our Christmas story heroes.) The minister suggested that on Christmas Day the people follow their normal Christmas tradition of coming to church for the annual Yuletide Service followed by the ringing of the church bells to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
On Christmas Day the people of the town came to worship as they did each year while the French prepared for the attack. Then at the end of the service the church bells began their joyous ringing. The French commander misunderstood the meaning of the bells and thought they signaled the arrival of an Austrian army coming to save the town. The French retreated because the commander felt a superior force awaited them. THE TOWN WAS SAVED!
Christmas is about one important truth: God loved us so much he sent his son to live among us, die for our sins, and be raised so death can be overcome. Emmanuel – God with us – has come and WE ARE SAVED!
Zechariah, Elizabeth, Joseph, the innkeeper, shepherds, Magi, and Mary all undertook journeys in one form or the other, and thus all played a role in God’s plan to save His people through Jesus, His Son. The Austrian town’s journey from fear, to faith, to salvation, to joy is much like many in our Christmas story and maybe ours as well.
So, this Christmas Day…
RING THOSE BELLS!