"When they saw the star, they were overjoyed" - Matthew 2:10
The Christmas story has become the most famous story of all time. Every year, billions of people reflect on a series of events that purportedly happened in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, which culminated in the birth of a child named Jesus, who Christians believe to be the Son of God.
How has this narrative managed to capture the hearts, mind and cultures of so many generations? There is so much about this story that is fascinating, perplexing, insane and inspiring in equal measure. There's the moment when the Angel Gabriel appears to the 'Virgin Mary', there's the Nativity-classic moment when the Inkeeper declares that there is 'no room at the inn'. There's the 'Wise Men' who have an encounter with evil Herod, there's the shepherd and their sheep who are overwhelmed by the appearance of a divinely-orchestrated star. In short, the Nativity story has all the key ingredients of a captivating, timeless story...it never seems to get old, and it never seems to lose a single drop of it's magic.
I think the reason behind the Christmas story's timeless appeal is it's timeless message of hope. At the core of Christmas is love, gratitude and hope. Indeed, the Nativity story itself is perhaps one of the most inspiring, comforting and inspiring narratives in existence.
In her Christmas broadcast of 2002, Queen Elizabeth II shared that 'I know just how much I rely on my own faith to guide me through the good times and the bad". She continued, "like others of you who draw inspiration from your faith, I draw strength from the message of hope in the Christian gospel", which the Queen described as "fortifying" her for life.
Whether we believe in God or not, I think that we can all believe in the magic of Christmas. It is a time of gratitude, comfort and love. Indeed, we can all take comfort in the Christmas story, with it's inspirational narrative of light overcoming darkness and good overcoming evil. Like the Wise Men, who are described in Matthew's Gospel as being 'overjoyed' at the sight of the Christmas star, we can all feel comforted, overjoyed and inspired by the 2,000-year-old story of the birth of Jesus Christ. In the same way as the Wise Men presented him with gifts, we can all see Christmas as an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the gifts in our own lives, however large or small they may be.
May the light of the Star of Bethlehem inspire us and strengthen us through the darkness of winter. May we feel comforted by it's illuminating presence and inspired by it's message of hope for the future. Wishing you and your loved ones a peaceful, happy and very Merry Christmas.