Christmas is a season of celebration for the young and old everywhere. It is a time to remember the birth of Christ into our world but also into the lives of many Christians – those who accept him as Lord and Saviour.

It is also a time to revisit the first Christmas as churches and Sunday schools enact the nativity play.

In the ‘Christian’ world it is a time of several activities – shopping, watching Christmas movies, sharing and receiving gifts, family gatherings, generous hospitality, carol singing and attending a church service.

However, it is often forgotten that the birth of Christ on the first Christmas broke the status quo in heaven and on earth – it split the history into two, disrupted the normal, disturbed the people in power, and derailed the schemes of the Devil through God’s salvation plan.

Since then the world was and is no longer the same. Nevertheless, the present day church finds herself caught up in this tradition and wants to again maintain a status quo.

The Scripture says that the message of Jesus’ birth puzzled and caused fear in Mary when she was chosen to be a vessel to birth the saviour of the world (Luke 1:30).

It brought fear to Joseph when he discovered his betrothed was pregnant. He was ashamed and wanted to divorce her (Mat 1:20).

It brought fear and anger to Herod the King even to the extent of killing children of the age of two and under (Mat 2:3,16).

These individuals were unsure what the future held when confronted with the birth of Christ and tried to find solutions, as they felt appropriate.

Nevertheless, amid such uncertainties and confusion, the birth of Christ brought hope to all those who wanted to encounter the divine, entrusted their life and their fears to God, and accepted Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Saviour.

May it be shepherds, the wise men from the east or Elizabeth, the cousin of Mary and her husband Zachariah. Not to forget the parents of Jesus – Joseph and Mary.

All of them were ordinary people. These encounters were an unexpected act of God, His gracious intervention and private communication to strengthen their faith and hope in a time of uncertainty and ‘crisis’.

Unfortunately, this reverential fear of encountering God, the Creator and Saviour, during Christmas is taken for granted.

However, this Christmas like the first, many followers of Jesus Christ will encounter the fear, anxiety and uncertainty that looms large around them because of circumstances beyond their control.

In some places destroyed homes and infrastructure because of natural and human-made disasters mean living without the safety and security of families, a home, food to eat, and a place to worship.

This compels them to focus on their Saviour and Lord with a hope in divine providence in their given circumstances.

Because of their faith in Christ, in some places Christians will be targeted and in their vulnerability may have to underplay the Christmas celebration and not hold one at all and instead seek divine Protection.

In other places, it would be a time of grief and suffering because of the losses they have suffered and are suffering because of their faith in Christ.

In some places due to geo-political circumstances that are beyond their control, they would seek divine presence in their isolation.

It is believed that the Bible says more than 365 times do not fear, for God’s providence, protection and presence is assured to God’s children.

Therefore, while the world during Christmas focuses on the first coming of Christ, it is important that the Church, the body of Christ, hopes and waits on the promise of the second coming.

As the Church awaits and prays ‘Maranatha,’ our Lord come (1 Cor. 16:22), it also needs to cry Hosanna – save us my king (Matthew 21:9).

Meanwhile, the mandate is given to all who claim to be followers of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to witness the love (Eph. 3:18-19) and the life of God (John 10:10) that bring light and life to the lost, least and the last.

We as the body of Christ in this world are to share this message of hope to all those who are in fear and circumstances beyond human understanding to bring God’s peace – Shalom.

May we as followers of Jesus Christ be the messengers of God’s love, joy, peace, and happiness this Christmas in word and deed.

Knowing that the Holy Spirit is already involved in the hearts and lives of those in need of God’s love and salvation.

Let the same encounter of the message of angel Gabriel be to each one of us – do not fear for the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God has brought good news to the whole world.

We Christians now continue to carry this powerful message of God’s love and life to the entire universe.

Additionally, for those Christians waiting for this hope of love, joy and peace to be a reality this Christmas, let these words from Martin Luther Jr. be true for all of us – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This Christmas, may God’s love transform us to worship Him in truth and spirit so that we continue to witness His light to bring life and transformation in the community we live and in the world we inhabit until our Saviour the Lord Jesus comes again to judge all – MARANATHA!

Rev Dr Prasad Phillips is the Deputy Executive Director, for Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life, UK.