A long time ago in a Galilee far, far away… A new hope awakens…

Thirty eight years ago on 2th May, 1977 my whole world changed. No, it wasn’t the day that I made a commitment to Jesus…it was the day that the original Star Wars movie – A New Hope – was released. I remember watching it in a packed theatre at Nambucca Heads. It was a story of good overcoming over evil; of a young man from humble beginnings whose life affected the whole of the universe…but it was also the story of overcoming personal setbacks and temptation to achieve redemption for those around him.

Apart from the new age under currents to the story – the original Star Wars has been said to be the story of a generation. Fifteen years ago the franchise produced the prequel trilogy that caught the attention of another generation and now…after a wait of more than 30 years since the ‘Return of the Jedi’, the movie, ‘The Force Awakens’ will reconnect the story with a whole new generation. The amazing thing about this film franchise is that it is a story that appeals to all generations. Journalist propose that no other story before or since has such a wide appeal. However, I would like to suggest that there is one story that continues that is bigger than Star Wars…the coming of Jesus at Christmas!! It is the original story of redemption that has never been superseded and is still as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.

What a headline! God sends his son to become a man; a humble birth…a simple life…without the trappings of power and wealth. He walks anonymously through his childhood and early adult life only to burst onto the pages of history – with the acknowledgement from God that he is God’s son and we should listen to him. His rise in popularity is accompanied by his refusal to be manipulated by anyone’s expectations, except his father’s will. He spoke with authority; his power was astonishing; his compassion all-encompassing and love self-sacrificial. We celebrate his birth because of what he did as an adult…it’s a celebration in hindsight – looking back we can see God’s hand in bringing about the culmination of a grand plan. But at the time few, apart from some lowly shepherds, some foreigner wise men and two elderly people knew anything. If Mary hadn’t kept these things in her heart and meditated on them, what would we know of the Christmas story today?

What we do know is that from that day we were given a gift that is for all generations for all time; a gift of love and a hope that gives us confidence to deal with all of life’s twists and turns. What a wonderful story…but it’s more than a story, it’s the truth and the truth will set you free. But you have to do something with the gift, you’ve got to receive it and unwrap it and use it. You can’t leave this story on the shelf to dust off once a year. If you truly receive the gift of Christ and believe in him then your life is changed…he is Emmanuel (God with us)…he never leaves you and he is always there to guide you, protect you and empower you to make a difference in our world, one person at a time.

God bless you this Christmas,

Tim Winslade


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