Word of the Month

Christmas Joy

December 2003

How beautiful it is when one has preserved the fundamental principles of the gospel and continues to acknowledge them with a joyful faith. These include the incarnation of God‘s Son, as well as His act of redemption and His promised return! This produces joy - but not only at Christmas!

What would our life be if Jesus had not taken on flesh or if the Father had not sent His Son to bring the sacrifice of reconciliation and redemption? What would our life be if Jesus had not conquered hell, resurrected, ascended into heaven, or given the promise to return again and take His own unto Himself?

What would our existence be like if the promise of His return did not determine the way we live? We would simply spend a few years on this earth, experiencing a few joys, a few disappointments, some happiness and sadness, some laughter and tears, and then it would all be over at the end. Would such a life be worthwhile? Hardly! A life without the Redeemer - without the Risen One, without Him who ascended into Heaven, without the returning Lord - would be poor, empty and ultimately pointless.

That is why we remember Christmas with such thankfulness and joy, because of the fact that God sent His Son to earth for the redemption of mankind. "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord," the angel declared to the shepherds. Beforehand, he had reassuringly urged them: "Do not be afraid!" (Luke 2: 10,11).

This cheerful comfort is also part of our Christmas joy. In a restless time, in which one might be fearful of many things such as war, accident and illness, poverty, burdens and trials, injustice and loneliness, the promise laden Christmas message continues to resound: God is with you!

"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears," it says in the Psalms (Psalm 34: 5). It is also important for us to seek God. The shepherds at that time went to Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread.' In the divine services, we gather peace, joy and blessing. There the dear God meets us in word and grace, and calls to us: "Do not be afraid, I am with you on the narrow way to your heavenly home." This strengthens our faith and our certainty that Jesus Christ did come to earth, and has made our redemption possible through His sacrifice.

(From divine services by the chief apostle)