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    Christ is Here

    In the busyness of Christmas, we must not lose sight of the significance of Jesus' birth December 14, 2011 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Shortly after Thanksgiving, I drove by a big box store that had a large sign proclaiming, “Christmas is Here!” My first reaction was one of offence. I knew that the commercialization of Jesus' birth was at the heart of this announcement. The advertisement reflected an uncomfortable truth about the season: The earlier that businesses engage in Christmas preparations, the more money and profit they can make.

    As I reflected further, I became saddened by the thought of this store (and others like it) encouraging people to buy expensive gifts to celebrate the holiday. This is not the true spirit of Christmas.

    The focus of this season should be on the arrival of the Christ child. During this period of Advent (the weeks leading up to Christmas Day), we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. This event resonates with the intentional plan of God to both express his love and redeem his created ones. As Scripture reminds us, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4).

    If by human standards God had been silent for years, this all changed with the drama that we refer to as the Christmas story. The narrative makes good material for school and church plays. The characters are not all willing participants, but in the end God facilitates his entry into the world of humankind.

    Advent, in its simplest form, means coming. Our journey through Advent marks the fact that Christ is here; he has come. There is permanence about his presence that supersedes the idea that a shopping season has arrived. The Christmas season permits us to celebrate, gather with friends and family, and engage in expressions of love through gift giving.
    I hope we understand the significance of John 3:16 as it declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave ….” The gift came in the form of a baby, born to Mary in Bethlehem, but equally significant is the love that spans the years all the way to his death on Calvary. The primary message is that Christ makes himself available and as a result we are privileged to live in this age of grace.

    This poem by Ann Weems sums up God's plan through Christ's coming.

    Christmas comes every time we see God in other persons.
    The human and the holy meet in Bethlehem or in Times Square,
    For Christmas comes like a golden storm on its way to Jerusalem—
    Determinedly, inevitably…
    Even now it comes
    In the face of hatred and warring—
    No atrocity too terrible to stop it,
    No Herod strong enough,
    No hurt deep enough,
    No curse shocking enough,
    No disaster shattering enough—
    For someone on earth will see the star,
    Someone will hear the angel voices,
    Someone will run to Bethlehem,
    Someone will know peace and goodwill:
    The Christ will be born!

    I am committed to challenging my own thinking this Christmas season so that Advent does not come at my convenience. I want it to resonate as more than a calendar entry or a cycle of commerce. In order for Christmas to be here, so must Christ.

    In Corrie's Christmas Memories, Corrie ten Boom brings this holy season into focus when she writes, “For you know, if our Lord were born a thousand times in Bethlehem and not in you, you would be lost anyhow.” In some ways we are all innkeepers who are confronted with the question: Is there any room for Jesus? It is a personal matter.

    I accept the fact that I live in a world where much of the meaning of Christmas is lost in the commercialism and frenzies of the preparation. Having said that, I declare that I am taking back, with appreciation, the significance of the holiday. I personally acknowledge that in the midst of it all, Christ is here and he remains. It is my hope that each of us will welcome the Christ child into our lives as a permanent reality of God's eternal love.

    “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
    The gift is given. Christ is here.

    Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.

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