Word of the Month

The Joy of Christmas

December 2000

How happy it makes us, when peace and joy quicken our heart and soul. Especially at Christmastime, many people long for this. However, we cannot overlook the fact that two thirds of mankind does not celebrate Christmas; they follow other religious views or philosophies. And how many Christians are still aware of the deep meaning of the feast of Christmas, the birth of Christ, God becoming flesh?

When Jesus was born, very few connected this event with the proclamation of the Prophet Micah: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2). Nevertheless, his birth gave occasion for immeasurable joy even to this today, because with the sending of his Son, God gave mankind the greatest gift!

Bethlehem was not one of the major centres of the ancient world; even today, it is still a small city with some 30,000 inhabitants. And yet, Bethlehem Ephratah played an important role in biblical history: Jacob buried his favourite wife Rachel on the way to Ephratah; it is where Ruth met Boaz, her future husband; David, the shepherd boy whom God had selected to be King, was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means "house of corn" and Ephratah means "fruitful", thus, a fruitful house of bread. And there, as the prophet foretold, Jesus Christ, the bread of heaven, came into the world. God arranged it so that the Roman Emperor Augustus ordered a census and therefore, Mary and her husband Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem. Thus the prophecy was fulfilled.

When Micah made reference to the origins of Jesus, whose goings forth from of old and from everlasting, in like manner the activity of the Son of God - his death on the cross, his resurrection and his ascension - culminates in the goal: the entry into the Kingdom of Glory with his bride, the eternal fellowship with God that was promised by him. The knowledge of this future awakens Godly joy of Christmas and the true peace of Christmas.

Thus I wish you a time of Advent filled with peace and an equally blessed joy of Christmas,<br/> <br/> Yours,

Richard Fehr