This year our Christmas tree went up on the first day of November at the request of my children. I thought we would be the only family in New Zealand to have our ‘tree raising ceremony’—an annual tradition in the Hill family—but not so, many people have already decorated their houses, and Instagram is awash with Christmas trees and Christmas activity.
In our house, and I suspect in many people’s houses, it was a reaction to the disruptive and uncertain year we have all had. Christmas comes wrapped in annual family traditions and ceremonies that speak of stability, celebration and expectation. It centres each member of the family on gathering, eating together, exchanging gifts, summer holiday and relaxation. We have all been eagerly awaiting Christmas.
Christmas also reminds us of the coming of God to earth, Emmanuel, God with us—the hope, the promise, the life-giving gift. Jules Badger’s article ‘The Gift of the Divine Exchange’ says we cannot have the birth of Jesus without the death of Jesus. The baby born to die. And yet, he was and is so much more than this. And as we move into the Advent season, the season of expectation, let us unwrap the wonderful divine gift given to each one of us—the gift-giver is God and his most precious gift is of himself.
Christmas is not just a day, it is a season, so take the time to pause and plan for Christ in your family Christmas. Bring the wonderful Saviour into your preparations and family occasions and unwrap the inestimable, incomparable Christ this Advent.
I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.
James Hudson Taylor
‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
‘Ā e whānau ia he tama, me hua e koe tōna ingoa ko Īhu: nō te mea māna e whakaora tōna iwi i ō rātou hara.’