Introduction - The Magic of Christmas
by Rev. Mark Connolly
There is no doubt that the Christmas Season touches the imagination of the world. It is magic. It is a fantasy season. It is myth and reality all coming together in the minds of children as well as adults. People of all walks of life are influenced by Christmas, whether they are Christians or not.
Toynbee, the famous historian called it the most important day in the calendar of the world. Siegmund Freud questioned why Christians in their conduct could let this day and its meaning be forgotten so quickly and so easily.
Christmas is an important time of reflection and meditation. It is the time when God decided his son and his sons gospel should be introduced to the world. The shepherds in the Judean hills, the angels singing about the birth of Christ, the story of the wise men - all of us have been the beneficiaries of this story for centuries. Because of this birth event, nations have temporarily stopped wars, people show more civility and the spirit of this first family Christmas is experienced in many of our own families.
But God never intended that the birth of Christ should just appeal to our imagination. When the son of God entered this world, he brought a new gospel, a whole new set of values. And this gospel was not only intended to reach our imagination, but our intellect and our wills. The gospel of Christ has but one goal, to bring people to everlasting joy. He could speak to the poorest of the poor and give them hope by telling them that he would not leave them orphans. He could speak to the lepers, the outcasts of society and tell them have confidence in me and I will help you overcome the world. To the families, where brother was angered by another brother, he taught we must forgive those who have trespassed against us. This gospel theme of forgiveness went through his public ministry, always based on love. He taught that if necessary we must be willing to forgive seventy times seven. And his personal act of love and forgiveness for all mankind was summed up in his own words, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. This was the set of values he brought into the world on that first Christmas. His gospel life and message, his value system haven't changed from that first Christmas. We seem to forget that the Christ of Christmas and the Christ of Calvary are one and the same.
That value system that he brought into the world is the same value system we have to bring into our world. Our gospel, our value system, has to be Christ oriented. Our gospel should find others seeing Christ in us. Being Christlike isn't just a nice theological expression, it is a theological reality. Whenever there is a homeless person, wherever there is a sick person, wherever there is a person in our own family in need, that is where we should be. Christ reminds us of this when he said, wherever two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them. We have all heard the expression when I was hungry, you gave me to eat, and thirsty you gave me to drink. This is more than just another theological expression, it is a theological and scriptural reminder of what Christ expects us to doing after Christmas day is over.
Christmas was the occasion God selected to give man an idea of what his journey in life would be. That first Christmas saw a child who would grow, live and die out of love for all. Christmas is the beginning of the greatest love story of mankind. To make that first Christmas meaningful in our lives all we have to do is imitate the Christ child, who as an adult taught us to love one another as I have loved you. The message of the gospel does not change. Christmas will always be a love story between Christ and you.
"He will be great,
For a child has been born for us,
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