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Message From Pastor Leon

posted Nov 28, 2016, 10:41 AM by Tracey Morris

A pastor friend told me of a time when his congregation was invited to set up a Christmas display in one of the town’s shopping malls. This was back in the ‘old days’ when such public religious displays did not result in court cases, but were welcomed and encouraged.

A committee of volunteers went to work on the project. They decided to use for their theme a line from the second verse of the Christmas carol Good Christian Friends, Rejoice: “CHRIST WAS BORN FOR THIS.” They printed those words on a large banner, which they put across the top of a screen. Then, while that hymn played continuously in the background, a variety of images were shown on the screen, one after another. There were photos of families decorating the Christmas tree, congregations worshiping at a candlelight service, and children acting out the nativity story for their Christmas program. Interspersed with these familiar and pleasant images, were also images of more unpleasant scenes; images of poverty, war, disease, and floods, along with images of hospital beds, accidents, and graveside services. Through it all, the hymn played on the Christmas message that “Christ was born for this.”

“That is a great display,” I told the pastor, “and really true to the Christmas message.” Christ was indeed born for happy times and for sad times; for all of us, in whatever situation we find ourselves, all the time.

But after two days the mall management called and asked them to either change, or remove, their display. It was a creative idea, they said, and the happy pictures are fine, but they did not like all those sad pictures mixed in. “It’s too depressing,” they said, “and bad for business; people don’t want to think about those things during the holidays.” Even though Christ was born to offer hope and healing into all those settings, they did not like the mixture of images. Christmas was supposed to be only joyful.

But to quote another line from another well know Christmas carol, we sing of the birth of that Christ child that “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Jesus was born to bring us hope for a better world now and for the life to come, and to speak a word of comfort into our fears and sadness. To ignore that part of the Christmas message is to miss the whole point.

Christmas can be filled with joy, though for many people it is not a happy time at all. But either way, the message of Christmas is true, and hopeful, and offered to everyone, and at all times, for as the angel said to the shepherds, “A Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:11).

Have a Blessed Christmas!
Pastor Leon