Before we get on with the new year celebrations, can I say just one more thing about the end of 2017 and the Christmas we celebrated in the midst of a lot of grief in the world?  Seems like I ran into a lot of people who just couldn’t quite get excited about fa-la-las with so much sadness and negativity - even evil out there.

Before we move on, I want us to consider one thing that helps bring light to the shadows: Think what it would be like if Jesus had never been born.  All the glitter and hype would be a hoax and nothing more than a cruel joke.  There would be no hope, no peace, no forgiveness, no eternal life, no Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us, no knowledge of God, and no possibility of change (at least not for the better).  One last time in this winter of emotion, focus on Jesus.  It really did happen.  The virgin birth, the angels, the shepherds - all true.  As true as the piles of new socks and stacks of fruitcake that appear under our trees.

Santa may or may not have come, depending on your imagination, but Christ has already come!  Emmanuel - God with us!!  It is all true.  The miracle did happen.  God came down, bursting into our existence.  He became one of us.  Good news, everyone; God loves you so much that He sent His only Son, so that the darkness of our days would be lit up like the night skies were over the fields of Bethlehem.  "For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given.  And the government shall be upon His shoulder.  And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Almighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace!"

Somehow, I believe we ought to be entering a new year worshiping our Savior, praising our Lord, and looking for new ways to give Him glory.  Shouldn’t we be as quick as the shepherds to go find Jesus?  And shouldn’t we, having caught a glimpse of Jesus in the midst of our living, be as vocal as the shepherds in sharing what we have seen and heard?  I pray that I will not forget this past Christmas; it sure would not have been the same if Jesus hadn’t come.