Our last Secondary School Assembly was a delightful experience with a Christmas theme. The event featured festive songs and games, a beautiful rendition of 'O Holy Night' by Anna, and entertaining Christmas songs from 5'10" (the band). Additionally, Mr Bell offered prayers for the success of the upcoming overseas trips to the USA, Japan, and Europe. Our College Captains, Marna and Oscar, shared a meaningful message we would like to pass on.

Luke 2:13-14 Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests." Jesus's birth is a significant moment in the Gospel Story. The word Gospel means good news, and it is this good news that gives us hope and great joy to celebrate Christmas. Jesus's birth can be referred to as the coming of the Messiah, as a man to build a relationship with us and guide us in the ways of His truth.

The book of Matthew introduces the concept of an "upside-down kingdom" where it says the "last will be first, and the first last. A kingdom where the humble inherit the earth and the rich are sent away empty." Jesus came as a living example of how this kingdom applies to us, as Jesus is a king, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

Jesus's birth further aligns with His kingdom of humility and grace as He was not born in a fancy palace, with servants and doctors caring for Him. Despite his humble birth, it was a significant moment as Jesus had a royal announcement of His birth as King, which we can read in Luke chapter 2 when an angel appeared to a group of shepherds and said to them:

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for everyone.

Notice the keywords in this verse are "Good News", which implies the Gospel Message, and "great joy for all people". This is followed by a great company of angels giving praise to God.

Again, the announcement to shepherds aligns with the humility of God's kingdom. In Jesus' time, shepherds were the lowest of the lowest jobs in society. It is crucial that we understand that shepherding was the lowest job someone could do. Culturally, there is a good chance that the shepherds could have been middle-school-aged girls. This shows the value God places in both boys and girls, that he would announce the coming of the King of kings and the saviour of the world in such an awe and majestic way to a group of boys and girls doing the lowest job in society. It was not to nobles and royalty but to the lowest in society.

The theme of a Kingdom of Humility continues when the Bible says that Jesus was born in a barn, which would have most likely been a cave or wooden structure with animals and manure, but definitely no palace. In fact, archaeology shows that mangers were made of stone and were typically made to hold water and not hay.

Dave Adamson, a pastor who posts on Instagram, gives some other insights into Jesus's birth and its symbolism. He believes that Jesus was born in September during the Jewish feast of Sukkot, when the Jews celebrate ‘God being with them’ during the Exodus story earlier in the Bible. This celebration of God being with them ties into why Scripture says Jesus would be called "Emmanuel, which means God with us".

A September birth would mean that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary in late December during Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights. This is symbolic of Jesus, known as 'the light of the world.'

We know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which literally means "house of bread", and it was the place where blemishless lambs were born that would be used for sacrifices as atonement for sin. Jesus was our perfect sacrifice who has paid the price of our sins and is the bread of life.

Jesus told them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." John 6:32-33

So what does all this mean?

It means Jesus, God with us, is the light of the world. He is the bread of life and the source of living water, and is it a coincidence that he was placed in a watering trough after his birth. He is the King of a kingdom that is the right way up in humility and love. From the beginning of time and including his earthly birth, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has relentlessly pursued us for a deep and meaningful relationship and to unite us into a Kingdom of grace, peace and love that will last forever. Remember the good news this Christmas, the Gospel of love, that Jesus loves you.