BY JOE B. COATES
This past Wednesday at the Advent luncheon at our church, Hazlehurst United Methodist, those of us that attended had the opportunity to hear a Christmas message from Bro. John Matthews of First Baptist Church.
These Advent luncheons, you see, are attended not only by us United Methodists, but also by Baptists, Presbyterians and so on and so forth. The luncheons are more of community gatherings in which we break bread, fellowship, sing a couple of hymns, hear a word from our pastor Rev. Anna Fleming-Jones and are sometimes entertained by a special guest singer or speaker, like Bro. Matthews. The luncheons are over for the season, now, but Lenten luncheons will be held in the spring in much the same fashion.
Anyway, I was moved by Bro. Matthews message, which came from Luke 2, the birth of Jesus. He contrasted it with the current state of the holiday, as we refer to Christmas now. Long story short, the entire focus of the shepherds, the wise men who would come later and others in the story was on the newborn king, Jesus Christ. Our focus today seems to be more on Modern manger scenes that show animals and the whole crowd of folks who eventually visited the new baby in the manger, but in Luke 2, Bro. Matthews reminded us, none of that was there at one time.
Christmas is strictly about Jesus. Yes, many of us have manger scenes on display in our homes. Manger scenes in cities and towns are erected, then ordered to be torn down by some obscure court in favor of some atheist organization. And, we get upset. But, the real reason we celebrate Christmas is at the center of the manger.
We should be celebrating the birth of Christ our saviour. We should be celebrating God’s gift to the entire world that changed the entire world. We should be giving that gift to everyone we know. In some cases we do, but in many others, sadly, we do not.
Challenge yourself to give that most important gift to someone else this season and beyond. Maybe to a friend or family member or a complete stranger or even a fellow church member. Make Christmas less about buying and giving presents with packages and boxes and bows. Make it more about the spiritual gift of unconditional love sent by the Father through the birth of Jesus to the entire world, but especially for you.
BY JOE B. COATES