The Christian gospel is really quite simple: God created us, loves us, and will not – in spite of our sinfulness – leave us to the horrible fate we deserve.
He pursues us. He wants us to live as we were meant to live. So he came among us as Jesus of Nazareth and paid the debt we owed because of sin. Now he invites us to belong to him by grace. And we have baptism, holy communion, and the church as divine gifts to affirm his presence among us today.
Precisely because the gospel is true, the Christmas Story must be told. It must not get lost among the tales and yarns – innocent and sweet as they may be – that we tell our children about Frosty, Rudolph, or the Little Drummer Boy.
Every so often, you hear about a teacher being reprimanded for telling children there is no Santa Claus. He or she may have to send a letter of apology to the parents who are upset. I have a longer list of theologians who should apologize to their students, denominations, and congregants for the biblical truths they have denied in their presence.
The story of how God’s love was enfleshed is the most important message in all of human history. The story of a baby, shepherds, and Wise Men is important because it is true. It is history with theological content. It is setting into motion the purpose of God from eternity past to reconcile humans to himself through the one who is both God and man.
For me, a “white Christmas” is less a snow-covered December 25 than the vision of human uncleanness washed white by Jesus’ blood. It is inviting men and women to come to Christ for new life, hope, and empowerment. It is an appeal for weary, discouraged, and despairing souls to come in their defilement to find a love great enough to give them a reason to live.
The “Christmas spirit” is kindness and compassion, forgiveness and love. It is giving these priceless gifts to others because they have already been given to us. It was not a man in a red suit who brought them. It was a baby born in a manger – a baby who grew up and became strong enough to carry a cross to a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Because the Christmas Story is true, it matters more than anything else.
God Bless and Go Cats!
Rev. Scott Murphy is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Russellville.