AS WE CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, we sing “Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’ ” For it was the angels who first came to those who were humble and ready to receive and serve the newborn King – Christ the King who was born in poverty, and whose parents, Joseph and Mary, could find no room in the inn; Christ who was born in a manger made for feeding animals. God sent His Son, Jesus, to blaze the path of humbleness, love and peace in this world as the Good Shepherd and King who would lay down His life for our sake and for our salvation. Many ask, on this day in particular, why was it necessary for the Word of God to become flesh? The child Jesus, conceived Mary’s womb, the fulfillment of all God’s promises, was named “Jesus” which means “the Lord saves.” And what would Jesus save us from? Matthew’s Gospel makes this abundantly clear – “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God sent His Son into the world because we needed a Savior who could reconcile us with God. Remember, it was our ancestors in the Old Testament who bore the image of God and yet disregarded God, who gave God inadequate attention, who mistreated each other, who institutionalized injustice, and who (conveniently or otherwise) misunderstood the laws and commands of God. Even though God spoke through the Prophets, our ancestors persisted in living their misguided ways. So Love and Truth personified – the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ – came into the world to save us from our all too human ways, and to follow the divine way – the light of Christ leading us and illuminating a path of salvation in a dark and sinful world. Throughout the ages Christians have professed this salvific truth in the Nicene Creed: “For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” And Christ, the light of the world, was among the children of God – His brothers and sisters – teaching right from wrong, teaching how to live one’s life as children of God, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, to simply reflect love of God and love of neighbor in one’s thoughts, words and actions. And yet our ancestors crucified Christ on the cross; Christ undertook this great sacrifice for our sake. Jesus, the eternal Word of Truth, Love and Light, became flesh for us so that He could offer His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world through the shedding of His blood on the cross! The Word became flesh to show each of us the infinite love and tender mercy of God for us sinners. God raised his Son from the dead, so that we may share in His eternal life. God wants to fill our hearts with true and lasting joy as we show our gratitude for the greatest gift He could possibly give us – His beloved Son. Let us adore Him by embracing the way, the truth and the life of Christ, and “Be doers of the Word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Folks, the joy of Christmas is not just for one day or one season – it is an eternal joy experienced by those who listen to Him, humble ourselves before Him, embrace Him, and follow Him. May all of us experience this life of true joy, peace, happiness and contentment in Christ beginning today. From all of us…Blessings for a Merry Christmas!
- OF NOTE… Please join me in thanking all who cleaned and decorated our two churches so beautifully for Christmas, our musicians and choirs for their added work and preparation, our various ministers and servers, and all who dedicated their time and God-given talents to making this Christmas a truly joyous day of celebration!