As Americans across the country celebrate Christmas this week, the reasons for celebrating are numerous. Time off from work, breaks from school, the giving and receiving of presents, lights, laughter, the anticipation of Santa and food, food, food are all great reasons to be filled with cheer at this time of year. All these things give me great joy, too – and believe me, my family thrives on them.
Most Americans will attend a church service on Christmas Eve, or at least pay some sort of tribute to the birth of Christ. For far too many, this practice of the season is more routine than real.
Despite the fact that Christmas, is celebrated BIG time in every store, in every mall, in every town in America, many people are still afraid to examine Who it is we celebrate.
Folks don't want to get "too religious" when it comes to Christmas – it's OK to sing "Silent Night," or "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" – just don't stop and ask people to reflect on what the words mean or they start twitching and shifting their weight from foot to foot.
One of the joys of having my own column is the ability to address issues that some find too uncomfortable to discuss. This week, while everyone is celebrating Christmas, I'm going to address just that – Christmas.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – the Messiah.
What does that mean for you and me?
It means God loves us. It means we can have a personal relationship with the God of all Creation. It means we can be forgiven of our sins – no matter how numerous or how bad they are – and start life anew.
Christianity as a religion often gets a "bad rap." And, quite frankly, much of it is deserved. Why? Because far too many folks who call themselves Christians resemble nothing of the Christ who was born in Bethlehem so long ago. I shudder when I think of the many mistakes I've made, of the many times I've failed to reflect the Christ who lives in me.
But how well someone else does or doesn't represent Christ mustn't stop you from deciding for yourself whether or not to accept His love and forgiveness. His absolute love, comfort and grace are available simply for the asking. To accept or deny Him is up to you, and you alone.
Why did Christ come to Earth? What is Christmas really about?
John 3:16 states it simply and powerfully: "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."
There you have it. That is the reason for celebrating – not just on Christmas, but every day.
A good start for those who seek Christ on Christmas is to read all of the third chapter of John.