A Christmas Message for 2014

viagra order times;”>By Gregory J. Welborn

click times;”>Christmas is here once again, and I truly hope that all of our readers will be able to enjoy time with loved ones and to experience the meaning of this special season. How uplifting it is to know that during our chaotic times we can celebrate and take strength from the birth of the One who will be called; “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

As we reflect on that, we must acknowledge that our times seem anything but peaceful. We sing songs about peace on earth and goodwill toward our fellow man, yet it seems out of place given all that has happened this year. We have seen resurgent and bloody conflict in the Middle East and Afghanistan, Russian aggression in Ukraine, the outbreak of Ebola and its footprint on our shores, racial tension in Ferguson and a cold blooded revenge murder of two policemen in New York. In the midst of all those, there still remain thousands of U.S. military personnel serving bravely and facing hostility in several of the world’s far-flung corners.

How do we reconcile the turmoil and the suffering with the Christmas message of joy and peace? It can seem impossible, and yet, Christmas is the story of God mary-kissing-baby-jesus-dark-hairedbreaking through turmoil and suffering every bit as severe as we have experienced in present times. At the time of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Israel had been suffering under the brutal domination of Roman oppression. People then were hurting, afraid and weary. There was pain, separation, cruelty and death – often times in severity we cannot even imagine from our 21st Century American perspective. Long ago, they longed for a savior – a messiah – who had been promised them in their most sacred texts and who would lift them out of their misery.

We know the story; an Angel foretells to Mary the coming of this savior of man, and then just nine short months later other Angels announce to the world through Shepherds and a star that the savior had arrived. The humble and proud, rich and poor alike, traveled to this manger to witness the miracle.

But the miracle was not as they expected. A messiah was supposed to be a mighty warrior – a great earthly king in the lineage of David – who would conquer their oppressors. What they found was a “lowly” descendent born in a backwater of both the Roman Empire and Israel. How could it be that such a birth could be foundational to our celebration of Christmas except for the fact that this birth was the manner in which God Himself took on the form of a man and thus entered into our chaotic, cruel and impersonal world?

The point of the story is that God kept His promise to rescue us, but did it in a different and far grander manner than we could ever have imagined. A military victory over the Romans would have been of short-lived significance in history. Other empires had come and gone, and the Romans would eventually be defeated. We know these things to be historical realities, but they have no significance – other than to a handful of historians – to our everyday lives. Even the miracles of Jesus, as great as they were for those who received them, would surely have faded in historical significance were it not for the fact that they beautifully foretold of a greatness which would be exhaustively spent on our behalf.

Jesus came to pay a price we all owe but none can fully pay. Without Him, we would all be continuously found wanting against the righteousness demanded by God. Before Him, men offered imperfect sacrifices in attempts to atone for sins against the perfection of God’s standards. No matter how many, how expensive, or how ornate the sacrifices, there would always be the question, “is it enough?” And there would always be the whispered answer in the recesses of our conscience, “no, it is not enough.”

So God entered into a world every bit as chaotic, cruel, hurting and painful as the one in which we now live to save us all from our sins. The Jews wanted a savior for their small nation. God gave a savior for all mankind!

The Jews wanted a savior who would bind the wounds of physical oppression. God gave a savior who binds the wounds of spiritual oppression. They wanted something inherently temporal and short-lived. He gave something transcendent and everlasting!

This is why historians – both secular and sacred – can say that Jesus of Nazareth has had the greatest impact on the world of any historical figure, bar none. This is why we celebrate Christmas. This is why today, in the midst of the chaos, we can reconcile turmoil and suffering with joy and peace. It is man who causes the suffering, but no matter how severe its affliction, it is God who offers joy and peace.

I offer a special prayer for a sense of peace and comfort to the families of NYPD officers Liu and Ramos, and one as well for the families of soldiers who will not be home for Christmas, for those who suffer the loss of loved ones to more “normative”, but nonetheless painful, causes such as disease, age and accidents, and lastly to all of us who still live in a fallen world. Our realities here will never achieve the perfection of heaven, but He who lives there came here to comfort and console, to save us from our sins, and to guide the way to our eventual and eternal home.

Merry Christmas!

Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community. He can be reached [email protected]/5l.com

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