Christmas. It starts with the cheap wrapping paper in January, ramps up in the autumn with the shops’ first displays, then perches near the end of December waiting to arrive as you cross the days off your advent calendar. Even if you don’t bother with Christmas yourself, it’s hard to escape its growing presence each year.
But waiting in life is not unique to Christmas We find ourselves waiting for many things. Waiting for the work day to end. Waiting for a friend to arrive. Waiting for the appointment to come round. Waiting for a baby to be born. Waiting for news. Right now, somewhere in your life, you’re probably waiting for something.
How are you using the time? Getting ready for whatever it is that’s on the calendar? Or just getting on with life, so the event doesn’t play on your mind? We do that, don’t we? Distract ourselves with tasks or pleasures so that we don’t think too much about what’s coming up. Maybe you’re doing that right now.
Many do so with the biggest thing we’re all waiting for. Which is? The end. Of? You. Me. Ultimately, all of us are in life’s waiting room for the “big event” – death. We might worry about it or simply ignore it. But whatever we do, it doesn’t change the fact that the days are ticking off, the end is coming.
Is it a bit morbid to talk about death at Christmas? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be. Death actually has a very positive and lovely place in the story at the heart of Christmas: Jesus’ birth. Eight days after he was born, an elderly man called Simeon met Jesus with his family. He held the baby and said this:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.”
Simeon was near death but he felt peace. Why? Because God had long promised to save from the mess we’ve brought onto ourselves through self-centred, rotten, God-ignoring behaviour. And God’s rescue plan includes defeating death with its power to trap us in miserable, unending darkness. Simeon knew Jesus was that plan.
In his terminal condition, Simeon found peace. He was ready to meet God and pass through death into a finer, eternal life. How did he get ready? By trusting in Jesus Christ, God’s Saviour. You can do the same. Don’t waste your time in the waiting room of life distracting yourself from what lies ahead for us all. Be like Simeon. This Christmas, find hope for your future in Jesus Christ.
These words come from the “Contact” leaflet we distributed in the Christmas of 2016. To see the whole leaflet, please click here: Contact – Christmas 2016 (PDF)
We also have eight Christmas readings available by clicking here.
And our Christmas services may be found on this page.