*A few times a year, we combined with our Chinese Congregation. This was one of those times.
Christmas can be complicated. Several factors make Christmas complicated:
- the older we get
- the more kids we have
- a divorce somewhere in our families
- "interesting" family dynamics
- the loss of a loved one who we miss dearly
- shopping & schedules
There is no magic potion or formula to uncomplicate that part of Christmas. However, if there is anything that should never be complicated about Christmas, it should be the simple message & story of Christmas.
The angel who announced the Savior's birth to the shepherd described it as "good news" that will bring great joy to all people." At the heart of the story of Christmas & Christianity is the simple idea that Jesus is Good News for all people. Even if you aren't a Christian, or have doubts about Christianity, it is hard to proclaim the message of Christmas as bad news. If you think of Christians or Jesus as anything but Good News, it is probably because someone either misrepresented Him or distorted the Good News of Jesus. That is our fault, not your Heavenly Father's.
One of Jesus' closest followers, John, who knew Jesus, ate with Jesus, watched Him live, watched Him die, saw Him after the resurrection, and cared for his mother, wrote His account of the life of Jesus. In John chapter 3, he is recounting a conversation between a religious leader & Jesus, when he gets too excited and bursts into the conversation an incredible statement.
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. - John 3:16-17 (NLT)
God loved - Which for Greeks & Romans was contrary to how they viewed the gods. They thought, "The gods played. The people paid." Yet this God loved the whole world, not just the Jews and not just people in this time period.
God gave - He so loved the world that He did what in love people do - He gave...His Son! Then His Son, Jesus, continued that trend and gave His life for the world.
We believe - Our response to this love & gift is to believe or place our trust in Him. Not to trust completely or partially in ourselves, but to put our energy, weight, and trust in Him.
We receive - In exchange for our belief, God gives us eternal life. Eternal life is not just life in Heaven, but Jesus defined it as a relationship, or intimate knowledge of God.
He came to give us a gift. If you believe, you can receive it.