Christmas is amazing!

“That’s amazing! But that isn’t why we celebrate Christmas.”

That was the line that was the hook for my telling of the Christmas story the other day at the OMF family Christmas party. It was essentially a party for all of us OMFers in Sapporo to celebrate Christmas together as a big family. It’s obviously not the same, but helps to fill the hole left by not being able to celebrate Christmas with extended family in our passport countries.

But as I prepared to tell the story I was struck again by how amazing the story of Christmas is!

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props for my telling of the Christmas story (handmade by Anna)

How would it have felt to be ordinary Mary minding your own business when suddenly an archangel appears with greetings from the LORD?! Amazing! She was “greatly troubled” – not surprising!

But then the news she hears must have been even more puzzling. “You’ll conceive and bear a son … He will be called the Son of the Most High … He will reign forever.” As a bloke, it’s hard to imagine what it’s really like to be told you’re pregnant! But to be told that as a virgin, and on top of that, you’ll give birth to the Son of God? Amazing!

What would Mary have thought? We recently discovered a song that raises this question well:

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

How would it have felt to be in carpenter Joseph’s shoes? He’s heard that his betrothed, lovely Mary, has gotten pregnant. He knows he’s not the father because he has justly treated her with the dignity she deserves. Gutted! He’ll have to break off the engagement. But then an angel appears to him in a dream – amazing! The angel says Mary’s baby isn’t from some other fella – the baby was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit! What’s more, this baby will be called “He saves” because he’ll save people from their sins – amazing!

How would it have felt to be the engaged couple, heavily pregnant, having to travel the 70 miles by foot / donkey, just for the sake of some distant emperor’s power trip? To arrive at their home town and have nowhere to stay? To go through child-birth for the first time, with no midwives, no doctors, no epidural… Another song that has become a favourite depicts the labour pains of birthing the Saviour of the World:

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David’s town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother’s hand to hold

It was a labour of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labour of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
On the streets of David’s town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labour of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labour of love

For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labour of love

It was not a silent night
On the streets of David’s town

What about the shepherds, looking up at the starlit sky on yet another ordinary night with the sheep, when suddenly the sky is lit with the glory of the Lord and an army of angels?!

What about the men who travelled far to see the newborn King, led by, of all things, a star?!

What a story! It’s all amazing! Angels galore, virgin birth, star-gazers, prophecies fulfilled…

But the most amazing thing of all, the reason we celebrate Christmas, was that the baby was none other than the Son of God. The almighty, holy, Creator of the Universe, the God who is infinite, who cannot be bound by time and space. This BIG God, made himself very small. This omnipotent God became as weak and dependent as a newborn babe. He came to live among us, to become one of us.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). (Mt 1:23)

The sad thing is that most people in Japan do not know any of this. They don’t know how amazing Christmas is. They may give presents, eat ‘Christmas cake’ and KFC. But they do not know why Christmas is amazing, why it’s something to be celebrated.

  • Please pray for the many Christmas events going on in churches around Japan that many would come.
  • Pray that many more Japanese this Christmas would know Immanuel, God with us.

A very merry Christmas to you! Enjoy celebrating the most amazing thing about Christmas!

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A Japanese Christmas cake

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