I confess: Easter is actually my favourite holiday in terms of Christian symbolism and sometimes I think Christmas festivities can often overshadow the importance of the Easter story. I mean, at Christmas, we seem to focus on baby Jesus, which is cute, totally. But all the excitement happened over the three days of Easter, right? – a crucifixion, a resurrection – how action-packed!
But when I return to the account of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, I realise the great cause for celebration such a moment deserved. More specifically, what is so beautiful in the beginning of the Gospels is the sheer surprise and reverence that people had when the Lord tells them He is coming to be with them. It caused Mary to burst into song and proclaim:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” (Luke 1:46)
Christmas is the time for great praise, thanking God for Emmanuel; for coming into this world to be with us through His Son, Jesus. It is a time for us to be like the shepherds being greeted by the heavenly hosts, or like Mary and Elizabeth, who were swept up in the awe of the fact God had been true to His promise, and had sent Israel’s redeemer.
It is in God’s promise of a Messiah that we see the Christmas narrative and the message of justice intertwine.
The story of Jesus’ birth, in some ways, is like the beautiful, middle act of the Bible: The Old Testament shows Israel’s longing for the Messiah, the Anointed One, who would establish his Kingdom, “upholding it with justice and righteousness” (Is. 9:7). Then the New Testament begins with Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, being born, and with Him, the proclamation that the Kingdom of God now reigns.
So the story of Christmas – the story of God coming into our world – is not only the fulfilment of justice for Israel, but is really the beginning of God’s redeeming justice and resurrection power for all of Creation.
We rightly celebrate the justice message with the Christmas message every year, when we sing these words:
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.
We rightly celebrate it because where there is Jesus, there must be justice. And what makes me so joyous is that the inextricable messages of justice and Christmas can be celebrated all year round!
Yen Daly is a (totally awesome!) TEAR supporter and volunteer based in SA.
This piece was also published on TEAR Australia's website