Chuck Terrill: The substance of Christmas
The substance of Christmas is communication.
Angels communicated with Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. The shepherds communicated Christ immediately; “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20). If you know the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus, you ought to tell it to others.
One wintry evening not long ago, some of our grandchildren and I watched the animated classic: “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Though a moral story, the theology is asked. I am glad that the Grinch's heart grew three times larger, and he returned the village's stolen presents. But, the real meaning of Christmas was absent.
Immediately following the Grinch, on the same local channel, we watched a show about Shrek. Shrek is an ogre, married to an ogre, with ogre triplets. Apparently, it was the first time the ogre family would celebrate Christmas.
Shrek went to a bookstore and purchased “An Idiot's Guide to Christmas.” From that book he learned about Christmas trees, decorations, and presents. Those parts of the holiday tradition he didn't have any trouble with. His book didn't tell him anything about Jesus, however.
Like most of you, I love the traditions of Christmas. But I love the Christmas story the best. There is a Book that does tell us about the real meaning of Christmas. It is a wonderful book, and its message is true.
The Apostle Paul told the entire Christmas story in one sentence in 1 Timothy 1:15: “This is a trustworthy statement, worthy of full acceptance; that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Paul said, “The Message of Christmas is a Reliable Message.” He called it trustworthy, and he accepted it as the truth.
Paul said, “The message of Christmas is a Gospel Message.” Christ's main objective was to save sinners, and he accepted Christ as his Savior.
Paul concluded, “The Message of Christmas is a Personal Message.” Paul made it personal by stating his own need of salvation, considering himself the “worst” of sinners.
The message that Paul proclaimed has not changed, though it has been told and retold for thousands of years. It is a trustworthy message worthy of full acceptance.
Make it personal.
Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 417-847-2460.