Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Message 2012

As published in the Sunday Times - 25th December, 2011

Above all, Christmas is about sharing love. It is remembering that the Christ came into this world, because God loves us. It is about love for all regardless of our status in society. The lowly shepherds were witness to this amazing phenomenon. Animals were present at the birth of Jesus signifying that this event was important not just for humankind but for the whole of creation, the whole earth.
St. Augustine, writing in the 4th century CE reflects on the birth of Christ:
He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father... The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He who fills the world lay in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness (Sermon 187).

At the heart of the gospel of salvation is God’s incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. “Incarnation” is a word whereby we join other orthodox Christians in upholding a difficult but saving truth: Jesus Christ was completely human and fully God. Jesus was not God in disguise, or a man who was almost divine; he was truly human, truly divine.

God came to us as a baby, born in a human family. Jesus hungered, thirsted, and hurt, just like us. He was tested and temped like us (Heb. 4:15). He was no make-believe person and the final proof of that was his horrendous death on a cross. True, he was rightly human in a way none of us are. Though he was “tested as we are” says the Letter to the Hebrews “yet he was without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Though we “walked in darkness,” (Isa. 9:2) he was radiant light. Though we have this propensity to rebel against God and try to be gods unto ourselves, he was fully obedient, even obedient to death on a cross. 

So the message of Christmas is both complicated -“In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor. 5:19 ESV); and simple - “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” (John 3:16 The Message).

The act of giving gifts, of celebrating with feasts and parties, is in reality a joyful expression of love. What is important that the type of gift, the quantity and quality of food and the intensity of the party not distract us from the intention of sharing love with one another. When the presents are put away, when the food is all finished and when the party is over, Christ remains. God remains. God is love. God is peace. God is good will toward all.

Rev. James S. Bhagwan – Associate Minister
Gaepo Methodist Church,
Seoul, South Korea
25 December, 2012

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