40 years ago, my family and I found itself in a mess. I was a very sick little boy, laid up in hospital with meningitis. But there is only one thing I really remember about my battle with the illness: a book given to me by my Mum and Dad to cheer me up – and cheer me up it did!
It was titled, “Tubby and the Lantern” – a warm-hearted story of a young boy, his pet elephant, and the enormous lantern the elephant makes his friend on his birthday.
The family Tubby the elephant belongs to are lantern makers – so is everyone else who lives on his street – but Tubby’s family makes the best lanterns of all!
I remember that the illumination of the lanterns on the pages somehow sparked my spirits. And the joy that I could see these lanterns bringing the townspeople who made them, somehow also shined on me during this difficult time.
And that is so like Jesus.
He is the light of the world. As a babe, Jesus stepped into the darkness of this world. But He didn’t just step in, He broke through and showed us there was another way.
Jesus came down from heaven into a messy world that was in need of hope. Trumpeting a new day.
Birthed into a literally messy location – a dirty stable, a feeding trough as a bassinet, surrounded by stinking barn animals – shepherds and wise men went searching for Him and found Christ the Saviour in the mess. And the glory of God shone all around.
What they discovered was hope, joy, and salvation for all people everywhere… even in the mess God gave us His best.
And there is still a lot of mess in our world today.
Poverty, drought, hunger, conflict, and exploitation abound. Yet, in the middle of all that mess, we consistently find Jesus breaking through the injustice, darkness, and desperation. He illuminates people’s lives and provides them with hope as they receive the blessing of education, good nutrition, livelihoods training, and safe communities.
As we receive the light of Christ afresh this Christmas, what a wonderful opportunity we have to extend that light and shine it on those stuck in the mess of poverty and injustice. By joining God in his redemptive mission, we too can be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Shining His light this Christmas. Give generously. Be Hope today: baptistworldaid.org.au/be-hope