- - Sunday, December 23, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For most of humanity across the globe, Christmas never comes.

Even in the United States, a nation founded on Christian principles, Christmas never arrives for millions.

A holiday? Yes. Presents? Certainly. And, of course, there are celebrations galore. Families and friends gather, sharing love and laughter.

It’s a truly meaningful and wonderful time for many Americans. It’s even becoming popular to say “merry Christmas” again.

But Christmas — true Christmas — is increasingly absent from minds and hearts.

How do you have a merry Christmas, anyway?

“Merry Christmas” means one thing only: to joyfully honor the birth of Christ. So, for those who neglect to focus on Jesus, Christmas never actually arrives.

Even in the midst of the parties and presents, the greatest joy is missed. The hope and grace and unconditional love that come with knowing Jesus is absent. The good news of the forgiveness of sins and of eternal life is ignored.

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Jewish prophet Isaiah announced that He was coming, as recorded in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Luke, a respected physician, recorded the good news of Christ’s birth and how the word began to spread. He wrote in Luke 2:8-14:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

“‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

In 1741, George Frideric Handel composed the greatest oratorio of all time. Handel’s “Messiah” brilliantly and beautifully gives the Old and New Testament accounts of Jesus’ miraculous birth, horrific crucifixion and glorious resurrection.

Despite the facts that the Bible is the world’s best-selling book, that Handel’s “Messiah” is performed every year around the world and that millions of churches dot the landscapes of countries across the globe, Christmas is still missed by the masses.

Does your family miss Christmas too? If so, vow to really have Christmas this year by celebrating Jesus.

The greatest gift you can ever receive is to accept the love and saving grace that Jesus wants to give you. And the greatest gift you can give your family and friends is to share His good news story with them.

Reading the biblical accounts and listening to Handel’s “Messiah” by carefully paying attention to the words and soaking up the magnificent music can be life-giving. Jesus himself tells us that He came to give us life. Here are just a few of expressions of His life-giving love for you:

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:9-13)

May true Christmas come to your heart and home today and always.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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