St. Paul's Evangelical
Free Lutheran Church
21513 Leitersburg-Smithsburg Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
Evangelical - Confessional - Faithful
The Pastor's Thoughts
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel."
"There shall come forth a shoot from Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him"
"And He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."
This month we celebrate the Incarnation of our Lord, popularly known as Christmas or "the holidays". In a world that seems uncomfortable with anything relating to the Divine or miraculous, we confront the most miraculous event in the history of the universe - God becoming a man. How we react to the annual observance of this event tells a lot about how seriously we take our status as the people of God.
Over the centuries many forms of celebration have arisen around the Incarnation season. We all know them and certainly some of these things are rightly held in high esteem. But there are many others that a true disciple of Jesus must condemn. Gluttony and greed abound at this time of the year. Buying and selling take over the lives of people to a degree not seen in other seasons. Extravagance is everywhere.
And yet, what is it that we are celebrating? The coming of a God-child in a stable. The birth of the One who would say of Himself that He had no place to lay His head. The arrival of the One who told us that we are to love God more than others and others more than ourselves. While we spend our time in revelry that leads often to nothing more that January bills and occasional headaches, acid reflux and tension, the Babe in the manger is calling us to lives of service and self restraint. The One who came that we might live, asks that we live as He lived.
I would not tell anyone to give up Christmas celebrations. Parties and presents and good times are not evil. Jesus Himself did much of His teaching at meals with friends. But when these are the primary things, then they are indeed evil. Evil because they ignore the reality of the One we honor and replace it with what our fallen human natures desire more than they desire mercy, peace and justice.
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