December 1st, 2019

The joy of Christmas is here - of course, it never should have left. We speak of needing the "Spirit of istmas" all the time, and we should. Still, this man-made holiday celebrating a God-made event is a good time to stop and reflect about God's precious gift to us. As most of you know, and for those who don't I may be popping your bubble here, December 25 is not actually the day Christ was born. It is a date set by the early church to mark the birth of the Savior and counter the influences of paganism celebrated in festivals that were held at this time of year.

A funny thing is that we still need to counter the influences of paganism yet today. These influences take the form of commercialism and hedonism more than simply worshiping another formless, faceless deity. However, they are just as insidious and prevalent. In reality, contemporary paganism is probably more dangerous than the kind of paganism the Church was working against at the time when the date for Christmas was determined. That paganism was easily recognized as just that - a worship system that was opposed to God and tried to direct attention to other things. While the contemporary "isms" may not be classified as an organized system of worship, the force behind them is just as bent on deflecting attention away from God to other things.

Don't allow these influences to rob you of the joy of Christmas. The joy of Christmas comes from the celebration of God's marvelous Gift to the world through His Son, not the emphasis we see in our society on sales, gifts, money and everything that goes along with this. We may have set the date for Christmas, but at the core of the celebration is the work of God, not the work of man.

Yes, indeed, the joy of Christmas is here and will never leave as we focus on the Gift that brings joy. The angel Gabriel told Mary, "He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth." (Luke 1:14) Let his birth be the cause of our rejoicing.

Pastor Steve Willis