Commentary: For those who need hope

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I love everything about Christmas; the decorations, the lights, the snow, the music, even Christmas movies. My wife and I began a tradition of watching "White Christmas" when we were first married, and two years ago we watched it in Vermont for the first time. "Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow "

But the last two years Christmas has been snowless just like in the movie, except without the surprise snow on Christmas Eve. Maybe this year will be our first white Christmas!

I have noticed over the years that there is one recurring theme in every Christmas movie, even if it has nothing to do with the Christmas story from the Bible: hope. In "White Christmas," it is the hope of snow and true love on Christmas. In "It's a Wonderful Life" it is the hope of finding purpose and joy in life again. In "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" it is the hope of even the most depraved person finding their heart and caring for others again. We could go on and on. Hope is in every one.

I think this is because innately, people know that things are not the way they should be, and if a miracle is ever going to happen, a miracle that changes things, then why not on Christmas?

There are so many messages in our culture about what the basic meaning of Christmas is: love, giving, a warm feeling, family, or friends. Christmas means lots of things to lots of different people, and all of these things are good things. But since Christmas began as a holiday to celebrate Christ's birth, have you ever wondered what the Bible says Christmas is all about? What is the most basic meaning of Christmas? The Bible says that in Luke chapter 2, an angel appeared to shepherds in a field outside Bethlehem and assured them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

The Bible claims that the greatest miracle that ever could happen already happened on Christmas. Jesus is the reason for Christmas. God was in the manger that night. God entered into our suffering world, physically. God himself appeared in the flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ. God is not "out there," God is here. Jesus is Immanuel-which means, "God with us."

That is why Christians celebrate Christmas, because Jesus didn't just give us hope in the past, Jesus' salvation and presence today give us hope today.

This is good news. If Christmas is mostly about love, then Christmas will be stolen from me if I don't feel like loving others, or if I am hurt by someone I love. If Christmas is mostly about giving, then Christmas will be stolen from me if I am ever in a tough situation and can't give. If Christmas is mostly about a warm feeling, Christmas will be stolen from me if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed Christmas morning. If Christmas is mostly about family and friends, Christmas will be stolen from me if I am ever far from my family and find myself with few friends.

But if Christmas is not about what I can do or what my circumstances are any given year, but about God himself coming to me, then I can be joyful each and every Christmas. Jesus is for those who need hope; and that is all of us.

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