Many words are spoken by pastors at Christmas, and if you added them all together, that would be a lot of decibels. That, however, didn’t deter me from adding to the volume. A variation of this message appeared in our parish bulletin:
One need not look very hard or far to see that “Christmas” has come to mean many different things to Americans. It can be centered on Santa, Jesus, the solstice or just a civil holiday. Some even resent people trying to insert religion into this most important winter celebration. Many Christian churches have long ago abandoned Christmas day worship as that doesn’t fit the modern lifestyle and ways of celebration.
Whatever else Christmas may have become, in the Church we continue to find that Christmas, the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a mystery of God incarnate. St. Paul, our parish patron saint, writes these words which do capture the meaning of Christmas for the Church:
He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation … all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:13-17)
Christmas, the birth of Christ, is also our birth and entry into the Kingdom of God. The Nativity of Christ transfers us from this world to God’s Kingdom. It gives us citizenship in the godly reality and realm which have broken into our world, taking us beyond this world into the world which is to come.
Each year at Christmas, God speaks to us in this world in which darkness, uncertainty and menacing concerns continue to exist. We are to rejoice in and find comfort and hope in the same message heard 2000 years ago:
And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
A Savior. God’s people for over 2 millennia have hoped in these words. Do we not need the Savior today, in the 21st Century, in the midst of terrorism, uncertainty and unease? The threats and darkness may change through the centuries, but the need is as true as ever.
Yet, as in all past generations of Christians, we still have to contemplate the mystery. The need, the darkness, and the fact that Light has come into the world, yet some will not accept the light. Still, darkness has not overcome the light! The Light shines in the darkness – in our hearts and through us to all the world.
My sisters and brothers in Christ – thank you for being children of the light, helping to overcome the darkness. Thank you for all you do for each other and for God’s creation. Thank you for helping the church to exist and be a haven for those of us seeking God in this world. Your support, encouragement, prayers and help through this past year have been a constant source of blessing to me. I pray that the Light of Christ, which began shining in the world on the first Christmas day, will show you the way to walk in this world with faith, hope and love.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!