Faith and Worship – December 2015

December 2015

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And, behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” Some of the details have been left out, but there you have it in a nutshell – the reason we celebrate Christmas.

These are the words that were spoken to a young Jewish virgin as recorded in the Gospel According to Luke (1:30, 31). Mentioned in other passages are the facts that prophets several hundred years earlier had predicted this miracle, that a woman who had never been with a man sexually would give birth to a baby, that this Baby would be the very Son of God, that He would come to save people from their sins, and that He would be born in an “insignificant” little town called Bethlehem.

It’s one of the greatest miracles in history. The greatest cure for man’s greatest sickness – sin. What we could never accomplish for ourselves, God, through Jesus, accomplished for us. That’s why we who are Christians are not ashamed to greet others with the words “Merry Christmas!”

Much has been made in recent years of this traditional Christian greeting. “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings” and other “lame” phrases have been offered as preferable substitutes. They’re not necessarily wrong. They’re just incomplete. They are, by design, offered as options that don’t include the reason for the season – Jesus Christ!

But for the Christian, there would be no happy holidays or season’s greetings without recognition that it’s all about Jesus. The rest is “fluff.” Christians enjoy giving gifts as much as anybody, and we just allow ourselves to be reminded that the greatest gift EVER given was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Christians enjoy the season, too. In fact, the peace and joy so often talked about at Christmas is ours EVERY DAY of the year.

So when Jews want to celebrate “Happy Hanukkah,” we’re good with that. After all, the Temple needed to be rededicated after its defilement by Antiochus of Syria. And when African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa to honor their African heritage, that’s OK, too.

America is a diverse land with a diverse population, and the First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees our personal right to freedom of religion (and freedom of speech). This holiday that we celebrate as Christians, the reason for the season, and the cause of all our celebrating, is Christmas. We are not ashamed, nor are we hesitant, to still verbalize those well-known words – “Merry Christmas!”

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Ron Brisson has been in ministry for 35 years, including the past 18 as Lead Pastor of New Life Church in Rolesville.