THE PASTOR’s PEN DECEMBER 16, 2018
Dear Church Family and Friends,
I learned in Christian College that John’s Gospel does not contain the Christmas story. I beg to differ. I think the Gospel of John contains the Christmas story in a nutshell and clearly gives the motive of Christmas. John 3:16 (KJV) 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. You see the motive of Christmas is love, God’s love for a fallen world.
Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.
—Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894)
I have always thought of Christmas time, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem to open their hearts freely, and to think of other people as if they really were fellow passengers through life, and not another creature bound on some other path of life to some other destination.
Christmas is best enjoyed when it isn’t centered on decorations, gifts, or festivities, but when love is at its core. Love is the motive for Christmas. Christmas should mean taking quality time with your family and friends. It’s about cherishing and celebrating the love you share.
Christmas is a time to renew bonds of love. It’s a wonderful time when loved ones can show appreciation for each other. It’s also a great time to use that love to build bridges of understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness.
Christmas is a time to see the world through the eyes of love. It’s a time to remember that the world is made up of people like us and to see them for who they are inside. All have problems like we do, no matter who they are or where they come from. And we all need love. We need to love each other.
A couple of years ago on America’s Funniest Home Videos, a young boy was shown on Christmas morning. He came down to see a large present beside the tree and ran over to tear it open to see what was inside. The paper went flying and suddenly he broke into a dance and jumped around the room saying, “Wow Just what I wanted I really love it. Wow ” After awhile he went over to look at it again and said with a puzzled look on his face, “What is it?”
On that first Christmas the angels announced the birth of a new child. The heavens were opened and all the company of heaven broke into praise. Shepherds went racing to Bethlehem to see what it was all about. And for two thousand years we have been jumping up and down saying, “Just what I wanted! Exactly what I needed!”
But in the next breath we look again inside the stable and ask, “What is it?” We are puzzled by God’s gift.
Jesus mirrored God’s emotions over his lost children as he wept over Jerusalem. Luke tells us Jesus longed and wept for His people, crying out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.”
The Christmas story is not as cute as it is profound. A child born to die. A child destined for suffering, abuse and misunderstanding. A child whose life was in danger shortly after his birth. It is a story of a God who gave until it hurt — until He had nothing left to give. Why? Because God loves this world even though we are unloveable.
It’s amazing to realize that God knew what would happen and was still willing to place His Son at the mercy of our inhumanity. God realized there would be multitudes in every generation who would not believe or even care, and yet He was still willing to send His Son. And if you were the only one in all the world who would receive His gift, He would still have come just for you. It was an act of mercy which our hearts, minds and spirits have difficulty understanding.
Christ gave up his position and place in glory, so we could have Christmas. It began in a dirty manger and ended on a dirty wooden cross. He was born in a borrowed stable and was buried in a borrowed tomb. God became a refugee in the midst of his own creation.
God had a plan in mind. It was not a last minute plan which God hurriedly put in place because it looked as though things were going badly. From the very beginning God knew what He was doing. And it was all motivated by love!
Every day is like Christmas for us because Jesus is so good to us every day, but this time of year is extra special because He pours out His love in extra measure. We feel His love from loved ones, acquaintances, and even strangers. There’s just something about Jesus’ birthday that turns people’s hearts and minds to peace and love and goodwill. It brings out the best in everyone because it brings Jesus out, and He’s the best!
Until next week, Love and prayers,
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