The First Christmas


The story of Christmas as told by Zeke the Donkey

Christmas means many things to many people but it might also mean different things to the same person at different stages of life.

When I was a kid, Christmas meant a day off from school and great shows on Channel 5. My family never really celebrated Christmas. So all those stuff about turkeys, gifts, Santa Claus and Christmas Trees was something that happened on TV which had no relevance to me.

My wife on the other hand loved Christmas as their family would celebrate by going to their Auntie’s house for festivities. They weren’t Christians at the time, but one of her Aunties was and they would merrily follow her to midnight mass and do the presents and other Christmassy stuff. Those were the good old days when they still used cotton wool to put on Christmas trees to simulate snow and you could work out the age of the Christmas tree from the colour of the cotton wool.

Now of course we celebrate Christmas together as a family and have the Christmas tree lit up and presents for the kids. But it is still my wife who does most of the decorations and the planning for the festivities. For her, it is something that she had always grown up with. For me, I go along with it but I sometimes find it really stressful, if you know what I mean.

But the festivities are really all the outward stuff. One can have the tallest Christmas tree, the present you have been always wanting, (for me that would be the Canon 5D Mk II and for my son, an Xbox – both of us will have to wait till next Christmas maybe) but those things will only bring you happiness for a short while. The joy of Christmas is really what happens on the inside and what happens on the inside is dependent on our relationship with our loved ones and for Christians, with the Saviour who was born on this day.

So Christmas is always a time for me to remember the birth of Jesus. I guess the nativity scene is something that most people recognize immediately and will be able to tell you that the baby in the scene is the infant Jesus. But knowing that the baby is Jesus has as much impact on you as knowing that the next president of the US is Barack Obama. But if you could pick up the phone and call Mr Obama, that would be a different story altogether.

Just recently, I managed to watch the short movie about the life of gangster turned pastor, Rev Neville Tan. There was a part in the film where he was kept in solitary confinement for a period of time and was starting to turn crazy. His fellow inmate passed him some toilet paper which turned out to be pages torned out from the bible. Since he was bored he started to read it starting with the account of the birth of Jesus. He recalled that when he got to the part about a Virgin giving birth, he could not help but laugh and laugh as he found it amazing that Christians would believe such a thing.

Of course, naturally speaking, a virgin could not give birth. I guess to most people who do not know Jesus, this would be preposterous. However, in the case of Neville, his life took such a dramatic turn after he accepted the Lord into his life that one would have to say that it was easier to believe in a Virgin birth than to believe that a person as hardcore as Neville could be so completely and utterly changed.

We are all brought up with the adage: “Seeing is believing”, but sometimes we have to believe first and than we shall see or as St Augustine, the 4th century theologian puts it,

鈥淪eek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.鈥?lt;br />

For Neville and indeed for many of us, it is after he took that step of faith that he understood who the baby in the manger really was. And because of that child, instead of living a wasted life, he lived life to the fullest.

We live in uncertain times and I personally know of people who are in difficult circumstances. I can do only so much to help, but I know and am fully convinced that it is Jesus who can make the real difference. He has done it in my life, the life of Neville Tan and countless others. That is why we call Him Saviour and that is why we celebrate Christmas.

Have a Blessed and meaningful Christmas everyone!

If you would like to know more about Jesus, please email me at leslie.tay@gmail.com

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