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Child's drawing of an Advent candle

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Christmas Day

Let Christmas Transform Us

Isaiah 9:2–7
Luke 2:1–20

by Sally Vonner

Sally Vonner

Happy (birth)day Jesus, Savior, Messiah, Lord. You are the best gift ever and we get to celebrate your birth every year on this blessed day. Joy to the world, the Lord has come!

Today is the day for Christians to celebrate with joy that Jesus has come into the world, quietly in a stable. No balloons and flowers for his mother Mary. Luke’s description of Jesus’ birth is at low volume, verse 7: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.” This is our Savior’s birth, no frills, not even a baby crib, and yet, he is the perfect gift from God — more than enough.

This time of year, New York City is ablaze with Christmas trees and lights, themed department store windows, tourists, shopping, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. I love the energy and jubilation felt all around me. But then, when Christmas Day and the holidays are over, the joy and jubilation fade, and often the kindness, too. I wonder, after all the preparation for celebrating Jesus’ birth, do I take to heart the good news the angels bring to the shepherds in Luke 2? Do Advent, the Christmas pageants, cantatas, and Christmas Eve services fill my heart with enough hope and joy to carry me through the days ahead, the difficulties and possibilities?

Fulfillment of God’s promise

For Luke and other gospel writers, Jesus’ birth is a fulfillment of God’s promise we hear from the prophet Isaiah (9:6–7). Jesus was born for us, God’s son given for us, and he comes with authority to bring peace and goodwill to all people and establish justice and righteousness. The good news is that Jesus’ birth (celebration) each year is a time to reflect and embrace that he came to bring life, hope, joy, peace, and love to all people. Jesus came to transform lives. Just like the lowly shepherds were given a front-row seat to marvel at God’s gift to the world, so are we, year after year. Like the shepherds, you and I don’t have to be perfect people, social media influencers, or kings and queens, we only need to be believers. We only need to believe that Jesus came for us to share in his power and message to “love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbors as we love ourselves” (Luke 10:27) and to stand on the side of justice and righteousness.

I believe Luke’s message is also a reminder to have humility like the shepherds, to return again and again glorifying and praising God for all that we have seen and heard about this day when the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord is born! May we never stop hoping and working for a new day where all God’s children are welcome and treated with justice. Let us take this message to heart again this year, especially as we see unjust wars and hate expanding daily around the world. We need Luke’s message of hope, joy, and redemption in the power of God’s transforming love through Jesus Christ more than ever. Let this be our guide every day going forward. Glory and praise to God!

Sally Vonner is general secretary and CEO of United Women in Faith.

The children’s art is from the 2023 Daily Prayer Guide.

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