A couple of weeks ago I set out to find the meaning of Christmas. I think, somewhere along the last hundred years, we began to lose the true meaning.
If you watch television, it seems that it’s mostly about what you buy and give away. About cooking the perfect dinner for everyone, or watching a football game. The flip side of that coin happens to be, to me anyway, about how you feel if the turkey was dry, you received socks instead of the new Canon camera, and the fact you had to hug your great-aunt Susan.
Again, that is only my opinion.
So, I set out and asked that question during my last few visits to the Fountains and the Malls.
Brandi, who just turned ten, said it was about her hope for snow. “I want to make snowmen,” she said while bouncing around. “Christmas is snow, and that is what I hope for.”
Her younger brother and their parents said to print his answer, David, “Santa is going to make ME the older brother!”
“We found out,” said Brinda, their mother, “that we are having another child. For us, the holidays are about family and drawing closer.”
“It’s the Church stealing,” declares Josh, when I stopped him outside the bookstore. “It’s about how the Church took a pagan holiday and tried to Christianize it.”
Ms. Moore, a wonderful woman who was more than willing to share her ideas with me, began by telling me it’s the season we gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
“You must understand,” began Ms. Moor, “the saying is true, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’ It is Him, His life and His works we celebrate and attempt to emulate.”
Ms. Moor is right. For a Christian, the holiday of Christmas is about the birth of Christ.
Muhammad Tariq Aziz, who happened to be standing nearby when I asked Ms. Moor the question asked if he could answer as well.
“I am no Christian, but Muslim,” says Muhammad, “however, for those who believe on Christ as part of their faith this then should be a season for them to renew their faith as if they were to possess the faith of a child.”
There were other answers I had received. Some are saying that all the celebrations take away from the reason behind Christmas. Others said that it is not a holiday we should be celebrating.
Most, sadly, shared that it is a time to give and receive. It had saddened me that the answers seemed to be from all over the place.
I reached out to Abundant Living Faith Center and Pastor Charles Nieman. Pastor Nieman shared with me his view of Christmas, and what it means.
Pastor Nieman begins with the proclamation made by the angles, “Glory to God on the highest and peace on Earth and goodwill towards men.”
“What do they mean,” says Pastor Nieman, “by ‘Peace on Earth’?”
Pastor Nieman says that for years he wondered about that phrase and what it means. He rightly points out that from when that from when it was said, right up to today, we don’t have peace on Earth.
“Everywhere we look,” points out Pastor Nieman, “there’s conflict, wars, rumors of wars. We hear all kinds of turmoil, genocide, and all kinds of stuff going on in the Earth.”
Pastor Nieman then asks if God missed it. I have wondered the same thing. The Bible tells us that there would be this peace on Earth, which there would be that goodwill between all of us, and I don’t see it. Maybe I’m missing something in this.
“I think what God was revealing to us that day,” says Pastor Nieman, “was because of the birth of Jesus that there was now going to be peace on Earth between God and man, that there was no longer going to be conflict.”
Pastor Nieman says that the word used for peace, the Greek word that was translated into “peace” means the end of hostility.
“The end of hostility where?” asks Pastor Nieman. “Surely not nation to nation, person to person. But, definitely between God and man.”
What Pastor Nieman said is that God provided a way to end the hostility between man and God. In the Old Testament, there is a lot of anger. I’ve often said the Old Testament is a rather angry collection of books that does shine hope on a future free of hate, rage, war.
“I like to say it like this,” says Pastor Nieman. “Because of the birth of Jesus, and what He was going to accomplish through his life, death, burial, and resurrection, that God isn’t going to be mad at anybody anymore. That there is now peace on earth.”
It also goes on to say goodwill towards men.
“This is how I heard it,” says Pastor Nieman, “Goodwill among men.”
I agree with the Pastor. We are now embodied with God’s goodwill towards us, and we need to share that goodwill towards others. We need to find peace, make peace between our neighbors and us. Even our enemies, we need to find that peace that exists.
Pastor Charles Nieman said all of this and more. I would like to invite you to watch the video of Pastors Nieman’s view of Christmas, and what it is. It’s amazing, and it’s only ten minutes long. It’s time well spent.
Saturday was a day that the members of Abundant Living Faith Center worked on fostering Goodwill between men, and sharing the love of Jesus.
In San Eli, the church shared that goodwill, that love in a physical, tangible way.
ALFC began distributing smiles, and meals at 9 am this morning. Over the course of the morning 4000 toys, 800 blankets, grocery bags, and turkeys were distributed.
I’ll say this much, seeing the smiles on the faces of those children as they picked which toys they wanted, and their parents knowing they were going to be able to put a holiday meal on the table lifted my spirits. There was just so much joy, and goodwill you simply could not walk away sad.
When I spoke with Pastor Charles Nieman yesterday, about the food and turkeys, he made a very good observation to my comment of how large the turkeys were.
“For some families, this will be several meals for them,” said the pastor. He’s right; those turkeys will be a meal of love that lasts beyond one day, just as the toys will be a physical reminder of ALFC’s love and the love of God for a long time to come.
What is your Church doing for Christmas? If you would like us to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Steven at 915-201-0918.