Why A Quiet Christmas Can Be Meaningful

This year’s celebrations may be somewhat muted, but they offer us a chance to reflect a little more on the true meaning of Christmas.

Leslie Koh

Why A Quiet Christmas Can Be Meaningful
Why A Quiet Christmas Can Be Meaningful

Once again, this year’s Christmas is going to be very different from the Christmases of pre-Covid-19. With all the restrictions still in place because of Covid-19, celebrations are likely to be rather muted. Forget mass festivities, big parties, outreach events, or house-to-house carolling; expect simplified church services and smaller gatherings—if at all.

For sure, some of us will feel a little sad, knowing we’re going to end this year on a rather anticlimactic note. Covid-19, it seems, has robbed us of the celebrative mood that we usually get to enjoy at Christmas.

Perhaps it might cause some of us to wonder: Is this what Christmas is all about?

My personal thought is . . . yes.

After all, the first Christmas 2,000 years ago was rather quiet, too. Apart from the amazing incident of a multitude of heavenly host appearing to a group of unnamed shepherds (Luke 2:8–14), there was little fanfare to welcome the birth of the baby who would grow up to shake the world to its very foundations.

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It was also not a great time for God’s people. They were labouring under Roman rule and did not enjoy complete freedom to carry out their cultural and religious practices.

But all this did not detract from that amazing evening. For those who knew what was going on—like Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds—the first Christmas, though quiet as it may seem, was full of significance.

While they had little opportunity to celebrate publicly, they could mark the day in their hearts. For Christ’s arrival was not only going to change the course of human history, but it would also change their own little worlds—their individual lives and personal destinies.

Not only that, no big, public celebrations or outreach events were needed to ensure that the news travelled. The first witnesses of Jesus’ birth “spread the word” (Luke 2:17) simply by telling others, by word of mouth, what they had seen and heard. The wonder in their eyes, the excitement in their voices must have been more convincing than any evangelistic event.

Can we do the same today?

While Christmas celebrations this year are going to be quiet—an online service and perhaps a small family gathering—they can be just as meaningful, if not more.

Not having the annual flurry of church activities gives us a little more time to reflect on what Jesus’ arrival really means for each one of us. Not having the usual outreach event gives us an opportunity to share the good news with a loved one or a friend in a personal way. Like the shepherds, our personal testimonies of how God has transformed our own lives will make the best Christmas story to tell others.

Just as the suspension of physical church services, which happened when Covid-19 first struck, helped many of us to review our perceptions of what “church” is really all about, I believe that having a quiet Christmas can help us rethink what this season is really all about.

I am praying that this Christmas, God may quieten my heart and spirit to focus my thoughts on the birth of His Son, and allow this marvellous truth to renew my faith and transform my life. Perhaps you may wish to take time to do likewise?

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.