By Ryan Trares
Daily Journal staff writer
The Christmas season means a multitude of things to different people.
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Families look forward to the season to gather after months apart. Friends and co-workers host holiday parties to bask in the revelry of another year completed.
Children dream of the stacks of gifts that will appear underneath the tree on Christmas Day.
But at its core, the season is about something more simple than that.
The Daily Journal has asked pastors from around Johnson County to share their feelings about the holiday season. Their responses cut through the ancillary byproducts of Christmas — the carols, the tree, the presents — and help people refocus on the reason we celebrate on Dec. 25.
Pastor John Flamme
Concordia Lutheran Church, Greenwood
“What does Christmas mean to me? A far better question is: ‘What does Christmas mean to you, the readers?’ If Christmas means only: Santa, reindeer and presents under the tree — then we have totally missed the true meaning of Christmas. The angel who spoke to Joseph said it perfectly: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
God in the flesh was born on earth to save us from our sins by his perfect life, his innocent death on the cross and by his resurrection to life. Jesus was born to die to reconcile us with God so that we might live for God today and forever with our Savior in heaven. That is what the Bible says Christmas means.”
Pastor Matt Giebler
Greenwood Christian Church
“Christmas means …
We are loved, because God invaded time and space to restore us to himself.
We have hope, because God keeps his promises. As soon as sin fractured our world, God promised a redeemer, and Jesus is that Savior.
The point of Christmas is embodied in this statement from (author and founding pastor of New Life Fellowship Church) Peter Scazzero: ‘… you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet you are more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope because Jesus lived and died in your place.’”
Pastor Phillip Curtis
Franklin First Assembly of God
“Father God sending Jesus to accomplish what would be needed for mankind to be restored to himself. Jesus, because of His love for mankind, being willing to strip himself of all privileges and rightful dignity and become human in order to accomplish what the first Adam failed to carry out. Simply put, the first phase of man’s availability for redemption is Jesus bringing deliverance from the guilt and power of sin.”
Fr. Steve Schaftlein
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, Franklin
“For me, the birth of Jesus reveals God’s unconditional love for us. By becoming one of us God immeasurably increases the value and dignity of every person. With this dignity comes the responsibility for us to recognize the divine presence in every human being. As the ‘Prince of Peace’ loves and respects everyone and everything, so must we.”
Pastor David Crandall
Friendship Church, Greenwood
“It’s easy to lose the purpose of Christmas in the twinkling lights, blow up Santas and glittering tinsel. As fun and exciting as those things are they are simply the trappings of the holiday, that often overshadows the incredible event that the entire season is designated to celebrate. Christmas is to celebrate the moment that God became man, the divine embrace humanity, and the Creator entered his creation, a miraculous event that I still don’t fully understand.”
Pastor Matt Swisher
Smith Valley United Methodist Church, Greenwood
“For me, Christmas is the time to remember that God enters into the messiness of our lives and offers us grace. No matter how badly we’ve messed up, or how far we’ve gone, God’s love is for each one of us.”
The Rev. Jeff Buck
Mt. Auburn United Methodist Church, Greenwood
“Each year Christmas reminds me that things can be different. Not just that I can be better but rather God wants things different and proved it by the giving of a baby, wrapped up in strips of cloth and giving for us. Christmas reminds me that God is personally involved with us to make peace a possibility and hope a reality.”
Pastor Danny Anderson
“Christmas is God’s way of revealing the path to peace – peace with him, with others and within ourselves. It is his love revealed. Love is what creates and sustains peace because love is the choice to do what is best for others.”
Pastor Jim Clayton
Journey Church, Franklin
“Christmas is a reminder of how much God loves us, and how far he will go to be with us. Jesus left the comfort and security of heaven to be born as a baby, completely dependent on a young couple (probably teenagers). God had to have his diaper changed! Jesus traveled extensively, showing love and compassion to many people, but His ultimate destination was a Roman cross, to open the door to heaven for us, a door we enter through faith in Christ and what he did for us.”