You need not be a genius to come up with a few rightful contenders for the ‘Word of the Year’ 2020. If your guess has anything to do with a virus that caught the world unawares, then I imagine it might just be good enough! Some words, more than others, have suffered from exhaustion by over-use, yet remain apropos in their nonstop use.
From national lockdowns, to intense loneliness and isolation, to the breakdown of physical and mental health, to the loss of livelihoods and most distressingly, to death – the scale of this pandemic is unrivalled in recent times, even as it continues to threaten the normality of everyday life.
Days have rolled into weeks, and weeks into months since the unwelcome arrival of an invisible but ravaging foe. Much credit is due to the countless army of men and women around the world waging war on different fronts against a common enemy. The battle is yet fierce, and the future uncertain, but in the horizon looms the season popularly dubbed ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, Christmas! At last, some good-spirited festive cheer to finally undo the gloom of the past few months. Would that it were as simple as that!
Jesus, the reason for the season
Undeniably, the pandemic has proven to be no respecter of persons, race, gender, or even religion – talk of a leveller. In the face of such foreboding universality, what good is the Christmas story? What hope does the Christian faith offer? Are believers left at sea in very much the same way as everyone else appears to be? Not in the least, as we recall the unfolding of God’s eternal rescue plan, glimpsed on that very first Christmas.
Luke, one of the Gospel writers, presents us with an orderly account of Jesus’ birth so that we may have certainty about this historic event (Luke 1:4). In a world of fake news and fantasies, certainty becomes more of a necessity than an optional extra. Considering what is at stake, Luke’s careful research effort seems a small price to pay for certainty.
The first Christmas was no fairy tale, but a fulfilment of prophecies made long ago, with divinely orchestrated events that led up to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem that starry night. His mission was clear – ‘to save his people from their sin’ (Matthew 1: 21).
In his First Advent, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, was born as a baby, lived a life of perfect obedience, and suffered the anguish of the cross to secure our salvation. Having successfully completed his earthly mission, he ascended to heaven with a promise of His return.
In keeping with his redemptive purpose, Jesus, in his Second Advent, will come with great power and glory for the full and final salvation of his people. His coming will usher in a world where there will be no more tears, nor pain, nor death, not even the slightest trace of the wreckage of a pandemic.
Between these two Advents, God has sent us His Spirit, and is working in us to transform us into the image of his dear Son. (2 Corinthians. 3:18)
As we anticipate Jesus’ second coming, it is important that we relish the memory of his first coming, without falling into either extreme of unbridled secular funfair, or faithless despair.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Whereas in the past we’ve had to wade through the fog of a jolly frenzy, now we are confronted with a haze of uncertainty, even so, we must peer through to reach for Christ, the reason for the season, who gives strength for today and hope for tomorrow.
“Christmas is back on!” read the headlines. Well, it was never really off – Christ has come, Christ will come again.
Sike Osinuga is a Christian woman learning the ropes of being a godly wife and mother, one wobbly step at a time. An erstwhile Telecoms Engineer, she enjoys reading good books and writing. Her passion is to know Christ and to make Him known. She blogs at http://www.thrivebytheword.com”