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From the Pastor's Pen

A Christmas Thought
December, 1998
Dr. Clarence Byerly

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength," (1 Cor 1:25).

How God surprises us! He does things totally backwards from how we do them.

The Christmas story is one of those foolish events in history. It is crazy that God would send His only begotten, innocent Son into this violent, hatefilled world. How foolish to have Jesus born of a virgin. Who ever heard of such a thing? Mary wasn't even quite married and very, very poor.

God's foolishness had his son born when Joseph and Mary were far from home, and couldn't even find a Comfort Inn to lay their heads. Where was the hospital? The doctors? The insurance to pay for it all?

And then, the baby was born in a smelly stable among the animals. Talk about sanitation! This birth would have driven the obstreticians wild. A stable! Doesn't God own the universe? Yet He chose a manger instead of a bassinet in a newly decorated, Toys-R-Us baby room!

How we miss the point! God's foolishness is wiser than our Ph'd's, but you would never know it at Christmas. We celebrate every thing but the miraculous coming of the only One who can Save us from ourselves.

We get cranky, fatigued, overindulged, depressed, and consumer crazy, and call it a religious holiday. We fuss and fight. We travel hurriedly here and there. We feel something is missing.

Just what kind of Christmas do you really long for? Something positive, exciting, reinvigorating? Lifechanging?

Let me offer a suggestion for how to reclaim the joy that is supposed to be in the season. Celebrate "Advent." The word simply means "coming," or the coming of the Christ. Advent always comes the four Sunday before Christmas. It is a time of preparation for Christ's first coming and anticipation of His second coming.

Many families and churches celebrate by having four candles, one of which is lit each Sunday. Scriptures are read as the gatherd family reflects on the meaning of Christ's coming.

There is something about Christmas that is mysterious, holy, and spiritual. The giving and receiving of gifts evoke a sense of love and kindness and goodwill.

What kind of Christmas will you have? Will it be celebrative and joyous? Will you experience God more deeply at this time? It all depends on the Christmas you long for.

How will you experience the joy of Christmas? One way is to slow down and reflect on the meaning of the season. Find a church family to worship with and to study the prophecies of scripture revealing the birth of Christ. Keep your focus centered on Christ. Learn how to manage the distractions of lights and decorations and gift-buying and parties and events. Kick back and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Your circumstances or problems may be overwhelming or difficult but when the truth of God's coming into this world is realized, we can find reassurance and hope to keep on keeping on.

The uniqueness of Christmas is that God has sent us a Savior. You might be thinking, "I don't need a Savior. I can take care of myself." A savior is one who saves us from something and that something is sin. We all have sin. At least, I have never met a person who admitted to living a perfect life. God created us and He ought to know if we have lived the way He intended. He says we are sinners in need of a Savior. The grand truth is that God has come down to earth in the person of Jesus.

And, let's celebrate regardless our circumstances. Have a great Christmas!


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Updated November 14, 1999