Well, here we go again with this “war on Christmas” thing. How dare Starbucks change the design of its holiday cups!! What were those shopping mall managers thinking when they took the Christmas trees out of the backdrop for Santa! It is easy to make fun of such silly criticisms, but behind these rather extreme points of view about the danger of Christmas slipping away, you can sense an authentic anxiety about growing secularism in the culture. It’s not so much that we are losing Christmas but that we are losing touch with the sacred. People are looking for meaning and fulfillment in all the wrong places, while houses of worship gather dust.
There’s that old cliché phrase we use sometimes: “Is nothing sacred?” We could ask that again today, in light of the overwhelming commercialization and secularization of holidays in general, Christmas being exhibit numero uno. Have we abandoned all sense of purpose beyond our own material enrichment? Is it finally true that he or she who dies with the most toys is the winner?
I’d like us to take a step back this year and re-discover Christmas by studying the sacred texts in which all of our yuletide traditions are rooted. How did lowly shepherds find their way into the story, along with high born kings, or sages from the East? What do the Christmas stories tell us about Jesus Christ himself? What does it mean to “believe” and to “have faith in” these stories today? And, perhaps most important, what would be an appropriate and meaningful way to observe Christmas that would help us restore its place in our spiritual lives? Please join me for three evenings of discussion: Wednesdays, December 2, 9 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the Massapequa Church.
Pastor Knowles will lead a series of three Advent Bible Studies on the Christmas stories as found in Matthew and Luke and the “non-Christmas” stories of Mark and John. The study sessions will be on Wednesdays, December 2, 9, & 16 at
7:30 p.m. in the Boardroom at The Presbyterian Community Church of Massapequa. There will be 45 minutes of study and 15 minutes of prayer each evening.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the first week of the calendar year the church celebrates Epiphany. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, it means “to show, make known, or reveal.” For Christians, Epiphany is to serve as reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of humankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.
The dictionary defines epiphany as a sudden and profound understanding of something. Oprah Winfrey has an article that is featured in her magazine entitled “ What I Know for Sure,” in these articles she expounds on what she calls “aha moments” and shares a moment of epiphany about her various life experiences. The one thing I know for sure is that we need an epiphany of the awareness of God’s presence to encourage our hearts and to help us see Christ as Emmanuel (God with us) in our daily lives. God wants us to have a sudden and profound awareness that He is Emmanuel, God with us and that we are never alone. This awareness of God takes a special work of the Holy Spirit because it is hard to remember and easy to forget that God is with us when we face trials or even the mundane rituals of life. good works.
As I begin the New Year, my prayer is that I will have not just one but several epiphanies of God’s presence in my life. I challenge you to do the same. When we recognize that God is with us our worries and fears will have to take a back seat. We can let God take the wheel and let peace reign in our hearts.
The scriptures say that Christ is “Emmanuel God With Us.” We are reminded of this during the joyous holiday season. But God promises to be with all year, not just at Christmas time. Now that Christmas is over and the carols are no longer being sung, and the beautiful displays taken down, can you still sing the words “joy to the world and peace on earth good will to all?” When you have an epiphany of God’s presence every day, you will experience an inner peace that gives you joy that lasts all year long despite change and circumstances.
We have many changes ahead for us this year; we will be sharing ministry and worship with the Massapequa Community Presbyterian and most importantly preparing for the coming of a new pastor. We don’t know what any of this will look like or what the future holds for us but the one thing I know for sure is that God is with us and that we can trust that He will lead us in the right paths.