Before I forget, let me say that I hope everyone reading this had a very Merry Christmas! I have to confess that Alex and I were actively praying for a white Christmas, so for those of you who don’t like snow, feel free to be angry with us. But the rest of us are blissfully happy to have been able to look out and finally see the lovely dusting of snow everywhere.
Please do be praying for your brothers and sisters who have had a tough week of it, though -- like Marge Beall, who's in the hospital recovering from a nasty fall earlier in the week.
In our service this week, our fourth Advent Candle was lit by the Doremus family -- and we had a lot of Doremi here to do it, too! It was great to have the whole extended clan on hand to read Scripture and share the importance of remembering the joy that the birth of Christ should bring to our lives.
That evening, the Wright family was able to come back and light the Christ Candle as part of our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Megan and Alex shared Scriptures about Christ being the light of the world, and Wendy shared how that light should be the light of our lives as well. What a joyful time of year to be a Christian, celebrating the birth of our Lord -- but how important it is for us to be shining and reflecting that light throughout the rest of the year!
In our message, we continued our look at the Christmas Story from the perspective of the classic “H & Ws” -- what, where, how, who, etc. This week, we focused on the “why” of Christmas. Why exactly was Jesus born that first Christmas?
There are a lot of reasons that we could share, of course. But there is one clear, consistent response that the Bible gives us for the “why” behind the “what” of Christ establishing His Kingdom on Earth at Christmas. We see that reason explicitly expressed in verses such as Matthew 20:28, John 10:10, Romans 8:3, Galatians 4:5, 1 John 4:10, 1 Timothy 1:15, etc. -- that Jesus came into this world specifically to save us, to redeem us, to buy us back from sin and death and bring us into life and righteousness. But if you look closely, you’ll also notice two consistent undercurrents in many of these passages and others like them:
1) He came to save people who were alienated from God, enemies of God, people who were lost and didn’t really even care to be found. He paid a great cost to save people who arguably never deserved His effort.
2) He came to buy not only salvation for those people who’d abandoned Him, but to buy adoption as well. It wasn’t enough just to pour out His blood to bring them into eternal life -- He wanted a genuine, caring, eternal relationship with those people. He paid a great cost to bring into His own beloved family people who arguably never deserved His love.
And remember, 1 Timothy 1:16 says that He did all of this as an example for how we also should live.
So stop and think about your own family, or about the people whom God has placed in your life. How do you treat them? Do you echo God’s grace, or the world’s expectations? Do you show Christ’s unlimited patience, or your own frustrations? Do you consciously follow Christ’s example, or just do what comes naturally?
If we remind ourselves of the “why” of Christmas, then what’s the best, most accurate way of honoring Christ as we celebrate His birth?
And then, how can we consciously keep reflecting that throughout the rest of the year?