Herald Journal Columns
Dec. 29, 2003 Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

What is it about Christmas that makes it wonderful and powerful

By Rev. Sherri Sandoz, Bethel Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

Christmas Eve has come and gone. And Christmas Day is all but over ­ but not so the season. The church calendar tells us that Christmas will stretch out until the Feast of the Epiphany, Tuesday, Jan. 6.

So, there really are 12 days of Christmas, and plenty of time left to ponder the important things.

By now, December's many activities ­ some Santa-related and some Christ-related, have become good memories. Or perhaps, just plain memories. And the pace of life has throttled back to something resembling routine.

Therefore, with a bit more time on our hands, this is an especially good time to consider, or perhaps, reconsider Christmas.

In the mad dash to decorate and wrap and bake, the question rests there in the back of our minds. What is it about Christmas that has us repeating this frenetic activity year after year? What makes Christmas so wonderful and so powerful?

Is it the festive atmosphere found in our families and churches and communities that makes Christmas so moving? But can't a similar atmosphere be experienced on the Fourth of July?

Perhaps it's the beauty we see all around us that makes Christmas so wonderful and powerful. The Christmas lights are dazzling. The choir selections are superb. The Christmas carols are ageless treasures. And the Christmas greetings spoken on the street add to the beauty of our life together.

But thanks to the changing seasons, don't we already bask in natural beauty as well?

Maybe it's the smiles on our children's faces. But don't they smile just as widely on their birthdays?

What is it then? What makes Christmas so wonderful and so powerful?

It is the birth of a tiny, helpless baby boy. But not just any boy and not just any birth. The season of Christmas is about God breaking into human history to declare His steadfast love through the birth of His Son in a cold, lonely barn.

In the midst of farm animals, a humble, meek, peasant girl named Mary gives birth to baby Jesus.

This is the wonder of it all. Mary holds in her arms a child as vulnerable as any born of humans and yet more powerful than any earthly force. Mary holds in her arms God's gift to us, the Savior of the world.

Christmas is the event then and now, that wondrously and powerfully reminds us that God in Christ, born of the virgin Mary, fully human and fully divine, is the Savior of the world.

And we are not.

It is not up to us to make the world or even our little part of it, come out right. It is too great a responsibility for us. Left to our own devices, we have neither the wisdom nor the discipline.

Instead, our task is simply to trust and obey God in our daily rounds and in the common ways of our lives. We can and should let God take care of saving the world from the grasp of sin, evil and death. It is our privilege, on occasion, for God's work to be accomplished through us according to His good will.

To consider or perhaps, reconsider Christmas, is to wind up here with a special Christmas blessing. It is to rest in the knowledge and the hope that, in the baby Jesus, God has broken into the world in which we live, the one which he has saved, is saving and will save.

We can rest assured that even the wars, divisions, lies and fanaticism of our time do not change this reality.


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