One of my favorite songs of Christmas is the carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem. My favorite part of it is the last two lines of the first verse:
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the Everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears, of all the years, are met in thee tonight.
Looking at those words helps to reveal what Christmas does for us. This world can appear full of darkness, full of pain, full of brokenness, but there is light and love born into the world. In the midst of the dark streets, the Everlasting Light shineth. When we encounter darkness in our own lives, it can certainly give way to fear; but it’s important for us to remember that Light conquers darkness.
Think about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – there is no darkness in a spot occupied by candlelight. The Everlasting Light that has been born into the world gives us hope and can take away our fear. Darkness and brokenness can cause fear, but the Everlasting Light has been born into this world to offer hope. The last verse of the carol is important as it says:
O holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell
Oh, come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel!”
The first verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem shows us what Christmas really means. It reveals that the birth of Jesus is the source for all our hope. But the last verse shows how this is accomplished. While we only celebrate the birth of Jesus once a year, the meaning of Christmas isn’t a one-time thing. The true purpose of Christmas is welcoming Christ into our lives every day of the year – to abide in us.
Christmas is a time when we can focus on the joy and hope that comes from a birth in Bethlehem. We remember that love was born into the world and can be born into our hearts. There will be times when we encounter pain and hardship in the world, but a baby born in Bethlehem gives us hope and restores us to new life. Christ is born of Mary but He is born in our lives every day. Make a point this Christmas to welcome Him into your heart and to abide in you.
– Brooks Lambert, Ministry Intern