During this season we read the stories of Christ birth: Mary’s song, Joseph yielding, a trip to Bethlehem, a simple birth, and Wise Kings following a mysterious star. They are the Christmas stories.
There never has been another story such as that of Jesus. Never was a story so tender, so beautiful, so strong, or so pathetic, but if it is just a story it would have lost its power long ago. Men do not remake their lives, nations are not reborn, societies influenced with new thoughts, and new conceptions by a story.
The world has not been transformed by the telling of the story of His birth, any more than it is transformed by the telling of his death, and ascensions. What has transformed the world is the living presence of Christ in every successive century. What Jesus began to do two thousand years ago he has never ceased doing, and thus the world has been transformed.
This church is not gathered around the memory of a majestically beautiful story. We are here because the same living Christ is here, doing among us what he did of old; making us holy.
The Presence of Christ,
The parents of the students who attend Marshall Elementary School in Flagstaff, Az., received the following letter, “Dear Families, the Holidays are fast approaching and along with them is our own 11th annual Multi-Age Festivus Extravaganza! It will be held the last week of school before winter break …”
Festivus, as you know, was a comedy skit from the TV show Seinfeld that aired in the 90’s. It was a made up celebration by one of the shows characters as an alternative holiday. The celebration consisted of a bare aluminum pole, the airing of grievances, and feats of strength. Festivus originated as a joke, and now it is being rammed down the throats of gullible students as something to celebrate.
The children of today will be facing great challenges in their future. Therefore, it is the obligation of our society’s institutions to equip our children with truths they can use to meet those challenges. When a school teaches their students that a joke is a truth, they imply that life is a joke, and that school has abdicated its responsibility. They might as well teach their students’ problem solving is simply a matter of bread and circuses.
Teach the Truth,
The religions of the world, with the exception of Christianity, teach salvation by works. They teach in order to be accepted by God one must do more good works than bad works. As one Muslim explained it, “If I’m driving my car and drive through a stop sign, then I stop twice at the next stop sign.”
There is a story that explains the difference between the World’s religions and Christianity. A man fell into a pit and could not get out. Buddha passed by, looked at the man and said, “Poor fellow. You were foolish to get into such a mess. I’m sorry that I can do nothing to help you.” And Buddha walked on. Shortly Mohammed passed by. He said, “I am sorry I can’t help you out of the pit, but if you ever get out I may be able to give you some advice which will keep you from falling in again.” And Mohammad walked on. Then Jesus of Nazareth passed by. He said nothing, but got down into the pit and lifted the man out. The point is this: Jesus does for us what we, or anyone else, cannot do for ourselves.