This is December's newspaper column....
It is season to prepare for Christmas, and it is time again to recall the story of God’s Son and His attempt to reach the human race with His reconciling love -- God entering the human race to serve, teach, lead, heal, and die for human beings.
This historic calendar of the Church has December 25th as the day we remember the birth of Jesus, and we celebrate it for 12 days. On the 13th day we remember the Epiphany when the Wise Men from the East find Jesus by following a star in the sky, and they pay homage to him by offering him their gifts. The first Sunday after the Epiphany recalls the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River in Israel by John the Baptist, and the beginning of Jesus’ 3½ year ministry.
The first Sunday of Lent recalls the temptation of Jesus when he fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and encountered the wiles of the devil. Palm Sunday revisits Jesus’ prophetic entrance into the City of Jerusalem on a donkey. Maundy Thursday is the day when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Communion/Eucharist) while celebrating the Jewish Passover. He was arrested later that evening and was crucified on the next day (Good Friday) taking upon himself the sin offering for all human beings fulfilling many of the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament.
The following Sunday (Easter) he rose from the dead and appeared physically alive to hundreds of people for the next forty days. On the fortieth day he ascended back into heaven leaving the disciples with a commission to go and make disciples. Ten days later on the fiftieth day (Pentecost Sunday), the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised his followers, descended on those first century believers giving them God’s Presence and Power in their lives. This empowering of the Spirit continues to this day as human beings believe in Jesus and repent of their sins.
All of this begins on Christmas when we remember the birth of Jesus. As miraculous as the birth was, the miracles still continue to those who receive Jesus today. As nice as the story of the birth of Jesus is, what is more important is to discover the Truth which this story teaches.
It is Christmas-time again. Christmas music. Christmas trees. Lights and decorations. Shopping. Family-time. Good food. Gifts. All great things. But all are worthless from an eternal perspective if one misses what this is all about -- a Savior born to be a sacrifice for sin; a savior born so that humans can know the God of the Universe; a savior born to bring the love and forgiveness of God to the human race.