“Greetings” is the first word of the Christmas story. Today, it has come to mean a pleasant way to say hello to someone, but often, no more than this. Yet, in the Christmas story, the word “greetings” (Gk. χαίρω) is remarkably rich in meaning.
Mary’s role in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world is utterly unique (Luke 1). So the words had to carry deep meaning. ‘Greetings’ was a word related to rejoicing and a free gift of grace. Over the past 20 months, there has not been much reason to rejoice, and we’ve all needed extra grace to get through.
And yet, the simple word “greetings” carries deeper meaning. Linked to rejoicing and grace, but also the idea of being favourably disposed. We love it when people like us, when they are favourably disposed towards us. It might make us rejoice; or make us aware that this kindness is indeed a grace.
But Christmas time reminds us further, that it is God Himself who is favourably disposed towards us. This is the reason why God became a Man: because in God’s infinite mercy, He is favourably disposed towards us. That’s why the most famous Bible verse, John 3:16 boldly declares, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…Jesus.” As Kim Fabricius humourously reminds us, it is as if the the Gospel can be summed up by God speaking just two words to humanity, “Hey, Boo!”
To put your trust in this Jesus, is to find a deep joy and a life-transforming grace. It is to discover the Greeting of God, that He is favourably disposed to us, that through those who put their faith in Him, Jesus Christ is once again born into the world, and for some people we meet, we might be the only ‘gospel’ they ever encounter.
Jesus came to us to restore our relationship with God. In the womb and in the tomb, God is favourably disposed towards us. And in between these two events, stands the Cross on which Jesus died for you and me. You can know the favour of God this very day. The free gift of God’s grace is available to you right now because God is favourably disposed towards you right now and invites you into this amazing story of redemption and rejoicing.
That’s what the Advent of Jesus Christ is all about. In part….