'Wake up' to salvation every day, especially Christmas

Posted: Friday, December 06, 2002

"'Twas The Night Before Christmas," is a beautiful story of a sleeping family the night before Christmas. I'd like to share another sleeping story.

Paul in his letter to the Romans 13:11-14, calls to us in a loud voice to wake from our sleep. Our salvation is nearer than we believed: the night has passed, and the day is at hand.

His cry is to wake up now. Today. Every week of every year, every hour of every day and every minute of every hour, a cry goes out to us to wake from our long winter's spiritual sleep to the gift of eternal life from our God and father, the gift of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was born into the World to save men from their sin and evil persuasions.

The Christmas celebration is a beautiful time. The giving of gifts, the bright colored lights, evergreens decorated in bows and ornaments ... all portraying joy and prosperity.

These things herald the season and a joyous expectation of an arrival day of Christmas.

Advent in the Catholic church is the four weeks prior to Christmas day. Advent means "coming." An advent is something that is coming soon.

When we are expecting a visit from someone special, there is an alertness inside of us. We are awake, listening and preparing for that special someone.

Prior to Christmas, we spend time cleaning the house and decorating for visitors. The same is true for our spiritual house.

It is a special time for giving, a time for giving forgiveness, where God asks us to forgive and if anyone has anything against us, to ask their forgiveness. Forgiveness is such a special gift.

Christmas is all about our God forgiving us and asking us to join him in the heavenly banquet dinner he has prepared for us through his son, Jesus Christ as the beginning celebration of our eternal life in heaven where there will be no sorrow, no pain, no death, no wants.

The word Christmas comes from the Old English phrase Christes maesse, meaning "festival of Christ."

Also, according to Encarta Learning and Research on Encarta.msn.com, scholars believe the frequently used shortened form of Christmas -- xmas -- may have come from as far back as the 13th century. They say the "X" stands for the Greek letter chi, an abbreviation of Khristos (Christ), and it represents the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

As Christians, our focus is on the cross -- the gift and the giver. The gift being Christ and the giver, our heavenly Father.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

The gift from God is eternal life through Christ and the cross he bared for our sins. That is what Christmas really is all about. It is the joy of eternal life given to us from the creator of the universe, the one and only true God-almighty -- God and his son Jesus Christ.

The gospel of John, 17th chapter, is a great gift, a reflection of what God wants us to know about himself and Jesus Christ.

This chapter is a gift in itself to us this Christmas, giving us light to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and why he was sent on this momentous Christmas day we celebrate.

There is no mention in scripture what day Jesus was born. Most scholars and researchers have agreed it probably wasn't even near Dec. 25.

In fact, December was a pagan time of celebration of winter solstice in the fourth century.

Before Christmas was introduced, beginning on Dec. 17, Romans honored Saturn, the ancient god of agriculture, in a festival called Saturnalia. The celebration lasted seven days including winter solstice, which usually occurred around Dec. 25 on the ancient Julian calendar.

It is said that the Roman Catholic Church chose Dec. 25 as the day for the feast of the nativity in order to give Christian meaning to existing pagan rituals. The Church's focus then was not so much the actual day of Christ's birth, but that because of his birth, death and resurrection, the advent of his second coming was eagerly focused.

The same is true among all Christians today. We eagerly await the second coming of Jesus Christ, as our eternal reward forever. The eager expectation of Jesus coming is our reason for the season, the joy of our advent of excitement.

As we shop for gifts for our loved ones this Christmas season, deciding what gifts would best suit each one's needs, think about how, before the beginning of creation, God, our God of love, had planned to give us the greatest gift of all, for all our needs: his love through his son, Jesus Christ.

Mark Conway is a Christian evangelist living in Seward attending Sacred Heart Catholic Church. You may contact him by email at akmark50@hotmail.com

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