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Celebrating Christmas, but overlooking Christ

Celebrating Christmas, but overlooking Christ

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BISHOP SONNY E WILLIAMS – PRESIDING BISHOP

PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLIES OF THE WEST INDIES

St Vincent and the Grenadines District

Many of us continue to bemoan the loss of Christ from Christmas. John, in his gospel account, shows an inseparable link between Christmas and Christ. Without Christ, we lose, not just the real meaning of Christmas, but literally everything. John says,” Without Christ was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).

No Christ – and not just no Christmas, but no creation. John goes right back to creation. Can you imagine Christmas without Christ? Well, John cannot imagine creation without Him.

The ironic tragedy is that while many claim to celebrate Christmas, Christ finds no welcome in their hearts and their activities. Many are often too busy to acknowledge his presence or hear his voice. In Kahlil Gibran’s short story, “Eventide of the Feast” Jesus laments that he’s ignored more than ever at Christmas time, because people are too busy celebrating his birth to notice him.

Christmas is more than dazzlingly lighted squares, giving and receiving gifts and sitting down to a sumptuous meal at lavish family dinner parties. To many, Christmas has become a commercial concern. Many of the things we now associate with Christmas (though intently good) have nothing to do with Christ or with Christianity.

It is useful at this to point to remind ourselves of the beginning of the events that have spurned these celebrations. In the beginning, Christmas was celebrated in a manger and not a palace. The sign the angel gave for identifying the Messiah was not silk and satin, but swaddling clothes. Mary and Joseph were so poor, they couldn’t even afford a lamb for the sacrifice (Lev. 12:18). Therefore, they had to make do with turtle-doves and pigeons (Mark 2:24). The message of the birth of Christ was first brought to lowly shepherds. At the first Christmas, these shepherds brought no gifts.

Christmas must not just be another holiday. Christmas must be an exuberant celebration of the most wonderful birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. During this season, we must be reminded that God has rushed to our rescue to save us from our sins, at a terrible cost to Himself. Christmas is about Christ, from start to finish.

The chorus of Michael Fortunato’s song, “There is not Christmas without Christ,” speaks eloquently to this fact:

“There’s no Christmas without Christ

There’s no Xmas with no cross

Eternal life cannot be yours

Without God’s own gift that costs,

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

Over 2,000 years ago, there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn in Bethlehem. Let us make a Bethlehem in our hearts, where we worship the Christ of Christmas every day.

The honour is mine on behalf of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, St. Vincent and the Grenadines District, to wish all a Christ-centred Christmas and a Christ-centred new year.

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