Ancient Words: The Spirit of Christmas, A Time to Embrace
Solomon of old wrote that there is a time for every season…a time to embrace (“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing”, Ecclesiastes 3:5—KJV-BRG). Embrace definition: Hold (someone) closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection. To hug, hold, or cuddle warmly and affectionately. To accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically. To receive wholeheartedly with all of your heart.
Christmas Day, December 25, is a world-wide celebration. With days and weeks preparing the way for this, the world’s celebration of the birthday of one important baby, this miraculous event gives many reasons to embrace the Spirit of Christmas. Over the 5 Sundays in this December, we will look at 5 specific reasons to embrace Christmas. In doing so, we will also discover how to embrace Christmas because if ever there was a concept to embrace—-it is Christmas Day!
Embrace the Spirit of Christmas with forgiveness. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”,(Matthew 1:21). Christmas is about forgiveness! The angel announced to Joseph and the message echoes still today: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”, (Matthew 6:14). “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God”,(Romans 15:7).
Embrace the Spirit of Christmas with service. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us”, (Matthew 1:23). God came down on Christmas Day to serve and not be served. God came down to offer his life as a ransom for many. Christmas is about service! “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service”, (Romans 12:1).
Embrace the Spirit of Christmas with celebration. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”, (Luke 2:13-14). The angels in great chorus sang loudly with this ancient birth. Christmas is about celebration—song and music and dance! “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice”, (Philippians 4:4). “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven,” (Luke 6:23).
Embrace the Spirit of Christmas with gifts. “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh”, (Matthew 2:11). Christmas is about gifts and presents! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”, (John 3:16). God’s precious gift came to man on Christmas Day. The gift of His love was fully manifest in the babe in the manger. “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud….”, (1Corinthians 13:3-4).
Embrace the Spirit of Christmas with worship….(to be continued!).
Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The More Things Change
The More Things Change… Have you ever heard the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same?’ The phrase was coined by French writer and critic Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who lived during the 1800’s. I have heard it, in fact I have said it and it just occurred to me, do we really know what it means? If things change how can they stay the same? Elyshia has this sign that reads, “If there was never change, we wouldn’t have butterflies.” I have often heard it said that change increases anxiety. We live in a world filled with change and inconsistencies. We have all experienced change in our lives and will continue to do so. Some changes are good and some changes can be bad. Elyshia and I experience change every three to five years when we get moved to a new place. Which brings me to another change, the crazy weather here in El Dorado! It snowed one day and the next day it was like seventy-eight degrees! We are learning though. I think about changes in music trends, hairstyles, clothing styles and what happens after time passes and those things change, those styles come back! So, I guess in a sense the more things change, the more they kind of remain the same. Life will always be filled with changes and inconsistencies but Hebrews 13: 8 tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” I am thankful that I serve a God of consistency that can allow life transforming change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior we experience that change. The more things change, the more HE stays the same! Peace and Blessings.
Captain Jason Perdieu is corps officer of the Salvation Army of El Dorado.