Pastor’s Corner – Blessed Christmas 2020
God is with us! The story of 2020 seems to be one event after another causing us to ask the age old question “God, where are you?” Well, Christmas is finally here to remind us of the eternal answer — “I am with you!” The child born in the manger is a gift from God; He is God! He is God who came to save us from the heartache and brokenness of the world.
Christmas isn’t a day to hide the bad with good. Pretending everything is “ok” for a day doesn’t solve the problem; in fact it usually makes it worse. According to the Chicago Tribune, divorce rates skyrocketed 200% – 300% after the first of the year. Legacy.com reveals that more deaths happen in January than any other month of the year. Unfortunately, it appears, pretending to cover over our own heartache doesn’t fix anything, it only delays it.
How in the world can this horrible news be titled Christmas blessings? Please read on!
God sees our heartache and did something about it! He left His throne and came to dwell, live and experience this earthly world in the same way we have. He didn’t come to earth for its beautiful seasons and happy people. In other words, He came to save us, not be like us. He only became one of us because it was necessary to accomplish His gift of salvation.
A few years ago, I went to Guatemala for a mission trip. I learned a saying there from the missionaries “Fixing things doesn’t change things.” It is a normal human desire to see something that is “unjust” or “inequitable” and want to fix it immediately. This immediate solution usually makes the issue worse because it only changes the circumstance, not the sin issue that is behind it. We can make the same mistake with our Christmas celebration.
Christmas celebrations often try to pretend everything is fixed, if even for a day. Divided families pretend to get along and we plan to gather like there is no pandemic. No holiday or amount of pretending will fix any of this. BUT, God can and did bring about the power to change that which is necessary. In Christ, we have the power to cope with and even overcome the heartache that comes from broken families and pandemic. In Christ, we have the ability to feed the hungry and heal unjust circumstances.
This is best expressed in the reality that, even though Jesus came to save us, many of the troubles we endure didn’t disappear. We still experience death, temptation, illness, heartache and sorrow. If God saved us why do we still endure these things? Because removing these issues wouldn’t change the problem; the problem is systemic sin. Our nature is sinful and selfish, we spend lots of energy defending ourselves and protecting those we love. This instinct to defend and protect end up causing hurt in the world. Only when we lay it all down and trust in God to provide; only when we truly believe He has provided it already in His Son our Savior, in the manger; will we be free and our world be changed.
This is what happened at Christmas. Jesus lay down His rights to the throne, His power to destroy selfish people (all of us) and became one of us, except without sin. He came to save us by being one of us and it worked! Everything is changed. When we live in that truth and trust our Heavenly Father with our own lives it changes us too! When we know He would die for us before letting us get hurt we, too, have the power to bring that same change to the world around us.
At Christmas, God came to earth to remind us, “I am with you!” Christ laid down His life for us and we are saved; this is the Gospel. Believing in Him allows us to lay down our lives for one another; this is the fruit of the Gospel and is made possible only by the change that occurs in us through the Holy Spirit. What a blessed gift to you and to me.
Merry Christmas and may your full life in Christ be renewed again in Him; may your heart and mind be transformed by the Gospel and fill you with His peace. “And when the Shepherds saw Jesus, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.” Luke 2