Summer Editorial: Christmas Message from Ray Coster Moderator of the Presbyterian Church

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas is the time set apart for us to celebrate a birth not a principle; to celebrate a person - Jesus –God’s indescribable gift! (2 Cor 9: 15) The world in which we live, with all its joys and sorrows, is the world God stepped into to embrace us with his love and to redeem us from our sin.

People on every continent and in every age have sought to understand the spiritual dimension of life. They have gazed upon the image of God in nature and been impressed, but never satisfied. As people we long for relationship, not just ideas. Christmas reminds us that God is relational – he comes to us where we are.

Part of the wonder of this “indescribable gift” is the strangeness of the story. Jesus’ birth was unusual; all of Nazareth would have been known. Mary had conceived before she was married. The evil-minded always love to direct their darts at those who have a reputation for purity and none was more pure than Mary. What gossip did she sustain? What jibes did Jesus receive as he grew up?

Are there things that happened to you in the past or that you now regret? Remember that you are not your past mistakes. Lets not allow ourselves to be labelled by a time and place when something bad happened. Christmas is a message about new hope and a fresh beginning.

Consider also Jesus’ genealogy. His family tree was tainted. There were some famous names on it but also some infamous names. David is there, but so is Bathsheba. Ruth is there, but so is Rahab the prostitute.

Does your ancestry give you concern? Then no one understands you better than Jesus. Remember that you are not your family tree! There is a huge distance between your roots and the branch where you are now growing.

Perhaps you feel you have been at a disadvantage in life because you lost a parent or loved one early in your life. There is a tradition in the Church that Jesus lost his earthly father Joseph when he was young. If so, his early years and working life in Nazareth would not have been easy. He threw himself into life as a carpenter and refused to become a victim of circumstances.

As well as being a wonderful family celebration, Christmas can also highlight for many of us the difficulties and problems of life that we live with daily. Jesus knows and understands. Christmas reminds us that Christianity is all about a person who loves and embraces us. Christianity is not just about doctrines and teachings, ideas and philosophies. Christmas reminds us of the presence of One who had so much against him in life; the One who comes to give us a fresh start and a new chance.

May this Christmas be for you all a celebration of Jesus’ living relationship with us offering new hope, fresh beginning and loving embrace.

God bless you,

Ray

A Christmas Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me that you have worn my flesh, measured its frailty and know just how I feel. Help me to lean in even closer to you for comfort, assurance and help as the world once again celebrates your birth. Amen