Most of us, on the day after Christmas, have a MESS to clean up. Some of us just ignore it and go shopping – Hey, it’s BOXING DAY! And after Christmas we all need more stuff, right? Truth is, the messes after Christmas vary in size and shape. Some are mainly just wrapping paper and leftovers. For some, the mess is way different – and it was there before Christmas even started. For some – it’s emotional; there’s a build-up to Christmas and then a let-down. For most of us, the mess after Christmas involves bills we need to pay, for the presents we gave. Presents that actually still belong to Amazon, Canadian Tire, The Bay, Visa, or Mastercard.
In our greater story, the mess after Christmas involved Herod and the political powers out to kill off any threats to His power. It involved Mary and Joseph resolving the mess that, in Nazareth, still looked like pregnancy out of wedlock – a scandal. What we see, though, is this pattern with Joseph – it’s night, Joseph has a dream – and then he has to take action. Once again, it’s like God is reading Herod’s encrypted messages. And that brings hope! God cares about our messes, He knows the future – and He reads everyone’s mail. No weapon formed against you will prosper! And that includes everything – even Covid.  


Hope came quietly on the night before Christmas. Well, quietly compared to the way rescues usually sound. No one close to Jesus’ entry would’ve ever guessed that the ultimate Saviour and Hero had come – would change everything for good, even though He started small. As in, about 6 pounds, wet, wrinkled, vulnerable and helpless. Looking back now over the past 2000 years, it’s pretty clear that He changed everything! And that is just the start! He changed the impact of sin on our lives; people who were ashamed of their lives and track record – found hope. People whose lives were scarred by injustice – found the hope and freedom of forgiveness and the ability to forgive. Tyrants lost their most potent weapon – fear. And the archenemy of everything good found out that his enigma machine had been compromised. Hope is being adopted by, loved by, and cared for by Abba! Hope is being forgiven by the person who knows the most about our scummy past! Hope is having a broken life – and knowing the One who knows where all the pieces are – and how to put them all together! Hope is God humbling Himself – for us.
The Night before Christmas ended when Jesus showed up in the morning light. He delivered what He’d always promised: HOPE.


My wife, Lori, has an idea for a book and has been gathering material and thinking about it, planning it – for a long time. It’s about all the pieces – sometimes broken pieces that make up our lives. And they just look like a shattered glass or the junk pile from a pottery factory… until you connect the dots. Most of us never find all the dots, but we begin to see a pattern. And that pattern says that God has been creating a magnificent story – drawing a breathtaking picture with all the dots that make up our lives.
The Bible – pretty much all 1300 or so pages of it, covering thousands of years of history, contains most of those dots. From wanderers to crusty prophets to kings and advisors to Moms and kids – the beautiful story of creation, tragedy, hope, disappointment, failure, forgiveness and redemption is told. We are not told everything; God still has His secrets. But we know… we know… it will all end in triumph! Better than it ever should.


In every great story there’s a great cast of characters – all very different from each other. There are the ordinary people, the villains – sometimes a super villain, victims – and, of course the heroes and heroines. In the Christmas story you find all of these. In the larger story there is a super-villain and a SUPER-HERO. The odd thing about the Christmas story, though, is that the super-hero and super-villain are disguised and unseen. It’s also surprising, in this story, that there are no flashy entrances – no people who are ‘Great-at’… as the obvious main characters. Only ordinary people living unspectacular lives – who choose greatness by choosing to serve. And some of the leading roles are played by people you’d never expect. And some of the most spectacular, bigger-than-life people, play almost invisible roles. Only God could gather a cast like this… and that gives HOPE to unspectacular people like me and you!   


In every great story, there’s a cast of characters, there’s history – dots to be connected so that the story makes sense, and, of course, a problem to be solved. The problem is always underlying – under the surface, behind the scenes – and known by the author. And usually, before things get better, they take a turn for the worse. The better the story – the darker and more hopeless things become. The solution to the problem is always surprising – and sometimes shocking. When you were born, you became part of a story that started thousands of years ago – a story that took a huge turn for the better on the Night Before Christmas – over 2000 years ago.  Things looked totally hopeless. In his book, the Chronicle’s of Narnia, C.S. Lewis describes this era as, Always winter but never Christmas. God’s people had been crushed – almost out of existence. Faith, religion – had become a crushing weight of rules and protocol. The King of the Jews was a tyrant. Expectations were high – but the chances of realizing them, dismal. In most great stories, hope has been totally extinguished, when something flickers in the corner – and a tiny candle of hope appears. In the great story of God – of which we are a part, the problem was, quite literally – NIGHT. Darkness. Life and light was being crushed out of existence by the weight of evil, sadness, pain, injustice – and the arrogance and over-confidence of the perpetrators. And then… a pregnancy – the entrance of HOPE into the darkest story ever.