I love the Christmas season for many reasons.
But none of these Christmas activities compare to the real reason for the season -- Jesus Christ.
One of our values in North Alabama Methodism is to center ourselves in Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. These are more than words on a page. This value describes the posture of devoted Christ-followers.
Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus is God Incarnate . . . God with us . . . God come to earth. Jesus is fully human and fully God. Scripture and Christian tradition teach us that Jesus was born to a godly young virgin named Mary and her humble carpenter husband Joseph. Under their guidance and care, Jesus grew up to be a remarkable teacher and leader. As part of his ministry on earth, he healed the sick, cast out demons, preached the Good News, raised the dead and much more. Hope began to build among the Jewish people that he was the long-awaited Messiah. He gained so much popularity that the powerful of the day felt that he threatened their privileged position. He was crucified and placed in a tomb. This was not the final word, though! God resurrected the crucified Jesus from the dead, breaking the power of sin and death and making it possible for humans to experience new and abundant life Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. On the day of Pentecost he sent the Holy Spirit to be God’s constant presence and power in the lives of Christ-followers across the ages.
Centered in Jesus: Christ-followers believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God. More than that, Christ-followers live a life that is centered in Jesus.
Such a life cultivates an ongoing and growing relationship with Jesus . . . is deeply aware of Jesus’ constant presence . . . follows Jesus’ teachings . . . and looks to Jesus for guidance in making both small and large decisions. When one centers in Jesus, s/he lives a life of radical obedience to God and God’s way. This affects the Christ-followers’ attitudes about money, service, time, themselves, other people and God. Centering in Christ is both the hardest and the most rewarding part of Christian living. It simultaneously requires everything of us while freeing us to live lives full of meaning and purpose.
Yes, I love Christmas for many reasons. None is as significant as the real reason for the season, though. Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. My prayer is that we will do more than know who Jesus is. I pray that we will center our lives in Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference