A Christmas to Remember

As we go into the Christmas season, it will be different than any other year we have experienced. It will definitely be memorable.

Even in our era of internet connections, we may feel less connected than ever before. We have experienced upheaval, strife, and division in our world. There has been widespread loneliness, entering into hospitals alone, and limited in-person contact with family and friends. People in skilled nursing care facilities have been feeling very isolated.

Most have experienced lockdown, quarantine, and social restrictions. There has been a lot of job shuffling, layoffs, and businesses barely staying afloat. Parents, teachers and students are struggling and exhausted from going from in-person learning, to hybrid models, to distance learning.

How do we navigate through this time without becoming depressed, without giving into addictive behaviors that cycle out of control, without a sense of hope and loss of purpose?
Some of you have managed life okay, but you still wonder about the chaos and confusion that remains during this time. Where is this all going to lead?

It is as important as ever to remember the very first Christmas when Jesus was born. He was born to poor Middle-Eastern parents under an oppressive Roman government. They were forced to take a census in the city of their ancestral roots. Jesus' parents had to travel about 90 miles to go to Bethlehem where there was chaos and no room. Jesus was born in a lonely place, a stable. There, the child was visited by an unlikely group—shepherds, who were watching their flock in the field.

Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus? What is it about His life that is so remarkable? His name means, "He saves." He saves us from our sin. We have all done wrong before God. This wrong is called sin and it separates us from Him.

Jesus lived a perfect life and He is the only one that could die to take our sin upon Himself and make us right with God. He rose again from the dead to prove that He indeed conquered sin and death. He now promises a life that is eternal after death. It is a life without any more sickness, pain, sorrow, and death.

The promise and good news of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection is that He gives us new life, hope, and peace like no other. The hard part about this is that we need to repent, that is, turn away from our sin and turn to Him as the only ruler, Lord, and Savior of our life. It doesn't mean that we need to clean up our life before coming to Him. It means that we come to Him knowing that He has already done everything for us. We put our complete trust and faith in Him to save us. He gives us life as a gift of grace.

The greatest gift that we could ever receive is the gift of His presence. He promises to be with us to the very end. We can bring all of our cares, worries, anxious thoughts, loneliness, confusion, strained relationships, all to Jesus. He knows our sorrows, weaknesses, and struggles.
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Mark Anderson