I have long loved Christmas! Even before I met Jesus (which only made me love Christmas more). I felt it was the most magical time of the year. Every December 1 the Christmas tree would go up and the house would be transformed into a wonderland with Christmas music, lights and decorations. I knew Christmas was coming because of the promise of A Charlie Brown Christmas to be aired soon on television. Even without knowing the true meaning of Advent, it felt important—it had become tradition that my parents would buy me a waxy but very exciting chocolate Advent calendar so I was ready days ahead. I would always be the one to arrange our little nativity scene next to the fireplace. Once everyone (“The Wise Guys” and the shepherds, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus) were in their place, I was ready. I would eagerly await the countdown to Christmas, wondering if there could be any time of year more exciting than this.
As an adult, I still love the Christmas season. I prefer the less waxy chocolate calendars now, and I make sure everyone in the family has one. I am still in charge of the nativity scene, but now the stable remains empty except for the animals, while Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi and, of course, little baby Jesus move closer and closer each week but don’t arrive on the scene until Christmas morning. Now, every Advent, with both awe and gratitude, I realize more and more how dangerous and thrilling is the journey toward Christmas. The invitation to consider Christ’s Incarnation, to wait on Jesus and experience His presence through the Holy Spirit, is humbling and comforting. Waiting is rarely easy or comfortable, but it’s within the waiting and wonder of the Advent journey that we find the hope and healing of our soon-coming King.
Revelation 12 may not be the passage of choice for most Christmas Eve sermons, but it is certainly one of the most gripping Christmas accounts Scripture offers. Why is there a dragon in this nativity scene? Here we’re given a glimpse of the battle that goes on in heaven at the same time as the birth of Jesus. It is a cosmic battle over God’s authority—the ultimate battle of good versus evil, light versus darkness, between God and the dragon.
Mary and Joseph’s journey of faith and obedience, plus the taxing and difficult physical journey to Bethlehem, is very real—but so is the spiritual battle that took place because of it.
“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in labor and agony as she was about to give birth” (Revelation 12:1-2, HCSB).
“Then another sign appeared in heaven: there was a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and 10 horns, and on his heads were seven diadems” (Revelation 12:3, HCSB).
This red dragon would seek to destroy and devour the woman and her son. His goal is always to terrify and torment. The battle is fierce and long, and though the dragon seems relentless, he fails!
This is not only an ancient cosmic story. This is our story today and will be a part of our stories until the day the Lord returns—that the enemy opposes the rule of Jesus and seeks to destroy God’s people. We have much to be thankful for, and God is certainly at work in the world. But it is no secret that we are living in times when the meaning of Christmas is in jeopardy, not simply because of consumerism. In times of fracture and brokenness, it is not easy to hold on to hope.
We know that the presence of evil in the world is real. We know that dragons exist. In fact, G. K. Chesterton famously wrote that fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist; fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.1There is a dragon that lurks in our midst trying to distract us from God’s goodness, trying to deceive us and confuse us, waiting to pounce and convince us that we are alone in the world! What we need to remind ourselves of, and what we need to tell the world, is that dragons do exist, but born to us was THE Dragonslayer. This means that no dragon in my nativity scene or in yours can thwart God’s plans or promises. The dragon has already been defeated! Hallelujah! Rejoice that there is a greater power than any dragon that tries to take hold of your thoughts, your life, and your loved ones today. His name is Jesus.
Kaarina Hsieh has served in pastoral ministries for over 20 years. She is the former dean of students at Tyndale Seminary and has served as lead pastor at Parkway Forest Community Church, a vibrant and diverse church in Toronto, Ont., since 2012. Kaarina Hsieh has served in pastoral ministries for over 20 years. She is the former dean of students at Tyndale Seminary and has served as lead pastor at Parkway Forest Community Church, a vibrant and diverse church in Toronto, Ont., since 2012. This article appeared in the October/November/December 2022 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2022 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Home page photo © istockphoto.com. Photo above © AdobeStock. Designer edit added.
- G. K. Chesterton, “The Red Angel,” in Tremendous Trifles, first published in 1909.