Christmas Chapel Reflection – December 13, 2021
Jeremy Alexander, Bible Teacher
As people we love to tell stories. Whether it’s talking about what happened this weekend, posting a story to social media, watching a movie with friends, or reading a good book. Our lives are shaped by the stories we tell and hear.
We are constantly surrounded by stories that are trying to get our attention. Stories that say we have to be better. Stories that say we have to achieve a certain status. Stories that say we’re not good enough. Even stories that say no one else is worth our attention. Most of the stories we hear and buy into place ourselves at the center of it all, we’re the main character and the story is in fact all about us. Our needs, our desires, our goals.
These stories create a chorus calling to us daily, constantly. And often we buy into them. We live our lives as if we’re the main character. We think that this story of life is really all about us. And to be honest, it seems that often our life stories can move along great with us as the main character. I mean we make it through most days okay as the star of our stories, at least, this is what we tell ourselves as we drift off to sleep at night. In reality, living our lives as if we’re the main character often leads to loneliness because we make life all about us. Living as the main character can often lead to anxiety as try to control things and achieve all the things we’re told is important and necessary – status, college, power, popularity, and so on. What’s more, in the process of being the main character and looking out for ourselves, we often hurt those around us.
The story of Christmas offers us something different. It is the story of God. The story that God sees us, he hears us, he has not forgotten us. It is the story that God himself, the one who created all things and in whom all things hold together, this God has entered into the story of our world and the story of our lives. We no longer have to be the main character in our story. In Christ Jesus, God has come to dwell with us. This is the good news of the gospel, the good news of Christmas
The Christian story is one where we aren’t at the center, we’re no longer the main character. It really is all about God himself. A God who brings us peace, so we no longer have to spend our lives trying to achieve. A God who brings us hope, so we no longer have to control everything. A God who brings us reconciliation, so we no longer have to be alone.
This next song you’ll hear (Oh, Holy Night) captures for us the beauty of the Christmas story and the glory of the gospel message. In Jesus our souls, that deepest part of us, have finally felt their worth once again, hope springs anew because grace and mercy have overcome sin. But that’s not all. The gospel is also a story about our love for one another. In the story of Christmas we hear the message of freedom and community. We are reconciled not only with God through Christ, but with one another as well. The second line of the song reads:
Truly he taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break
For the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Because of the power of this stanza, abolitionists in America used this hymn to help communicate their message of freedom. This message of freedom is the story of the gospel lived out in real life. In Christ, God has come to reconcile all things to himself and in reconciling all things to himself, we are reconciled to one another. The barriers that divide us – class, income, status, race, ethnicity, customs – no longer count because Christ. This gospel story is not just about us as individuals, but about us, united together as a family – as brothers and sisters. The story of Christmas is a story of our reconciliation with others, but that only happens if we stop being the center of our own stories. If we can for a moment get out of ourselves and see others as God sees them. If we can treat others as God treats them. If we can embody and live out the reconciliation that comes with the God child Jesus.
The stories we hear and tell often drive us to focus simply on ourselves, how am I going to make through another day, will I get what I want out of this life, will I achieve what I need to or want to, will things go well for me. Christmas reminds us that the gospel offers a different kind of story. It gives us hope for more than our lives as individuals, it calls us to open our lives to others. Others who don’t look like us, who don’t speak like us, who don’t eat the same food, who think differently, who have different customs, different ways of acting, and different political affiliations. In Christ God is reconciling all things together, which means we are being bound together with one another. If we miss this, we miss Christmas. If we fail to love our neighbor, the ones we pass on the streets, in the halls, the ones in our classes, in our lunches, in our community, then we have failed to love our God.
So let me ask you: What are the stories you’re listening to and telling yourself? Are you trying to live out a story where you’re the main character, or are you hearing the story of Christmas, one the calls to you to see God as the center of your story?
As you hear this final song, I hope you will reflect on what it might mean for you to understand a new and a fresh that in Christ, God has taught us to love one another.
May this Christmas time, be one where we learn to a new story, one with God at the center, one where we can all learn to love one another, learn to truly be brothers and sisters.