For some people, the Christmas season is an opportunity to visit with friends and family they haven’t seen all year.
To others, the holiday is a chance to make others happy with a thoughtful gift.
At the root, Christmas is something deeper and more pure, though. Christmas is one of the most holy days for Christians, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
For that reason, ministers see the season in a different light.
Four Johnson County religious leaders have taken the time to describe what Christmas means to them. Their impressions differ, but the central tenet is the same — Jesus is the reason for the season.
Classic love story has happy ending
When I stop and take the time to think about it, Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people; but to me, Christmas is a love story. I don’t mean that in the way of a Hollywood love story, I mean it in the way of a true-to-life love story.
Like any love story, it comes with its highs and lows. Every year at the same time I’m laden with the tension of how to make it great for other people. How will the family I rarely see act toward me? How will I make this a great Christmas for my children without teaching them to be extremely dependent on physical belongings for their happiness? How will I manage the stress from all the busyness and the financial planning in the middle of all that? Will I be able to create great memories this year like I did last year?
All of this adds up to what we make Christmas to be. It’s a time of sharing, joy, tradition, anticipation, reflection and stress. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you are planning a wedding, except we do it once a year. We’re all running around trying to do this great thing of making Christmas so much better, when it really can’t ever get any better.
Why? Christ was born. The eternal Son of God, stepped into time, clothed himself with flesh and blood to include us in his real-life, epic love story. The angel of the Lord said it best in Matthew 1:21: “And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” He came not to complicate life but to simplify it. He came not to bind us with stress but to deliver us from ourselves. He came to equip us with a new way of handling our relationships, tragedies, victories and brokenness. He came so that we can experience faith, hope and love.
The truth is, Christmas is not reserved for just a few weeks out of the year. Real Christmas happens when we aren’t paying attention. It happens in that conversation that you should’ve had months ago. It happens when Grandma shares her cookie recipe. It happens when life deals you a bad hand. It happens with every hug and moments of togetherness.
Like every great love story, it happens whether or not we acknowledge it. Consider opening your heart and experiencing God’s love story this Christmas.
Russell Dennis Jr.
Heritage Baptist College
Bible offers ‘hope’ for faithful
As the first Christmas story unfolded, the Bible gave an insight as to what the Christ child would accomplish. Joseph was told that this virgin born son shall be called Jesus: “For he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).
Christmas to me means “hope.”
After a perfect world was lost through the disobedience of Adam, the first glimmer of hope was prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Later Bible passages would declare that this Messiah would come through Abraham’s lineage (Genesis 22:18), the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), the house of David (Jeremiah 23:5), and even to the very city of his birth (Micah 5:2). Fifteen specific prophecies of Christ were accomplished by the time of the humble manger setting in Bethlehem.
Well, did the angel proclaim the significance of that moment when he exclaimed to the shepherds: Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. The host of angels in the backdrop couldn’t remain silent. They sounded forth with glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Three things that men look for today were revealed at that first Christmas — joy, peace and good will. And with the birth of the Christ child, a true heavenly “hope” was now possible.
In the troubled days in which we live, mankind searches for hope. True hope is found in Jesus Christ.
“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)
Grace United Methodist Church
Jesus best gift anyone can receive
This is what Christmas means to me: In a world where our output determines our success and our success determines our sense of worth, Christmas reminds me of the truly important aspects of life.
Faith helps me understand who I am and why I’m here.
The gift of Jesus is the most important thing I could ever receive in my life. Taking time to celebrate his birth — through service, the joy of children, the way we decorate our homes and towns as a collective effort to make this time a special one of inclusiveness — brings us as close as we often get to understanding just what Jesus was trying to teach us.
Spending time with family and friends for a meal, exchanging of gifts, laughter and a time when I get to put down my worldly expectations of success and worth to just simply be Joe.
It is such a nice thing to return to that childlike view of myself and the people I love. It reminds me of where I came from, where I am going and the differences of what God tells me is important versus the world around me.
Christmas is a gift I wish was celebrated so collectively more than one month a year.
GracePoint Church, New Whiteland
Take time for Merry Christmas
Christmas is here again — though it seems like it was only yesterday that it was summer. Christmas wish lists are being filled out with the precision of a master list-maker, describing and explaining the exact color, the exact make and the exact location of each carefully thought out request.
It is a time of year that I love and look forward to even though it gets lost in the shuffle of our ever-increasingly busy schedules. We don’t have time to sit and just talk; we have to text, tweet, Facebook, email. It’s go-go-go.
Most of the time, the world seems to tolerate Christmas; but it seems to be becoming less about the reason for the season and more about the holiday. I don’t know about you, but I will now and always say “Merry Christmas.” I hear folks say or write “X-mas” because it takes less space or less time to write.
Have we come to the place in our busy lives that we cannot take the time or energy to give respect for Jesus Christ? He was the one who made time for us to come and to be born in a manger so many years ago in a town called Bethlehem and leave the comfort of heaven and start his live on Earth in a stall filled with livestock. Yet we don’t have time to say “Merry Christmas?”
I don’t know about you, but as far as I am concerned it has been and always will be merry Christmas. Please take the time this Christmas to read the story of Christ’s birth, which is found in the book of Luke, chapter two, and do like Mary — ponder the birth of Christ. It just might help you to remember that Jesus Christ is the only reason we say, “Merry Christmas.”