Monday, November 29, 2010

Understanding The True Christmas Story

Birth of Christ

 With the Christmas season being right around the corner, I once again find myself immersed in the "holiday spirit", enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas carols, the decorative lights on houses, and the supreme delight of warm, fresh eggnog on a cold winter evening. But more importantly, I can't help but smile when I recognize what the true meaning of Christmas is for us. You've seen it in Christmas plays that you were apart of, you've heard it as you were growing up, outlined in the lyrics of old-school Christmas songs like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and "Oh Holy Night", and you've probably even read it in Luke 2; but I implore you to take a closer look at what the birth of Christ means to us, and what it did for mankind. Follow along with me as I break down the true "Christmas story".

Luke 2
We’re going to look at:
-the birth of Christ
- the significance of this event

Summary of the Scripture Reading
Verses 1-7
-Age of the powerful and expanding Roman Empire, with Caesar Augustus at the forefront.

-Wanted control and domination of all aspects of society (i.e. requirement for registration)
 -regional provenance, ethnicity, name, place of birth, religion: all had to be registered.

-The implementation of these security laws affected the lives of ordinary people. Unfortunately forced migration was very common because of this. In this case, we have Mary (pregnant), and Joseph having to move to Judea, in the city of Bethlehem.
                   - did it to be with Mary, so they could register themselves in the city. Was his own town,(from the House of David).
Verses 8-12, 15-20

-Here we have the baby Jesus being brought up in this context of Marginalization. They were under poverty-stricken conditions, with homeless parents. Jesus was wrapped in cloth pieces and laid in a manger.

-Angel of the Lord appears to shepherds out on the skirts of the town (modest individuals with very simpleton lives).
            - when confronted with the Glory of God, their first reaction is fear!
            - only because whenever they were confronted with power, it meant suffering.    
            - “Do not be afraid” is the first part of the heavenly message.

-Notice in Verses 10-11 the phrase the angel of the Lord speaks to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid”, “I am bringing you good news, of great joy for all the people”
            - in Greek this is translated to: “panti to lao” – “Laos” means “ordinary people”.

            -The birth of this child implies joy and good news first of all to the
ordinary people!
            -“To You” is born this day a “savior”. Personalizes it on a whole new level: To and For the common person. Not just for a select few, but for mankind.

2 Key Aspects of the Birth of Christ

1)      The Gift of Peace     
  - [see John 14:27]                                                                                                      
  - Peace is the gift from God. It’s something we’re awaiting, not making ourselves.                      
  - In this light, the Kingdom of God becomes a reality for us.                                                 
  -God is promising that violence will be overcome completely.       
2)      God’s Peace with the Earth                                                                                                        
- This is God reconciling Himself with mankind.                                                              
- Even more so, He is revealing himself in the love of Christ.                                        
  [see Philippians 2: 6-11]                                                                                                  
  - God reveals himself to us, becoming one of us, and eventually to die for us.              
  - This prepares the redemption of all Creation.                                                               
  -Not only for a specific people, but for all peoples of all faiths.

*As you enjoy the Christmas holidays with your family and friends, take a moment in prayer to thank God for showing such wonderful love to us. It was the birth of Christ all those years ago that began His plan for the redemption of mankind from death from sin to eternal life through His son Christ. No one could've possibly known that that baby laying there in that manger could one day grow up to bear our sins on the Cross of Calvary, eliminating our penalty of death from our slavery to sin, bringing us back to a personal relationship with God. But it's because that we now know the importance of that significant event in our history, that we celebrate the beautiful grace of God; that He loved us that much. Never lose sight of this amazing gift from God that he gave to us, and as you share in the spirit of giving this season don't forget those less fortunate all around you. After all, we were the less fortunate ones once, and when we needed it most God revealed Himself to us in Jesus, giving us everything we'll ever need. God Bless you all! 

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