No Christmas Without Christ – by Greg Albrecht

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Friends and Partner Letter for December 2014

He is both a speechless child and He is the Word…He lies in a manger, but he holds the world in His hand; He is nourished at the breast but He feeds the angels; He is wrapped in swaddling clothes but He clothes us with immortality… He does not find room in the inn but He makes a temple for Himself in the hearts of believers. For Strength took on weakness that weakness might become strong.

– Augustine, (354-430), Sermon 190.

As we begin this last month of the year, we see another frenzied Christmas shopping season of excess, with retailers unleashing promotional devices and marketing tricks upon the public at large, urging and tempting North Americans into yet another round of conspicuous consumption, much of it in the name of Jesus. Shopping malls, veritable cathedrals of consumerism, teem with shoppers whose cars are crammed into overflowing parking lots. Meanwhile, in places both near and far to the shopping mall shrines, the homeless and the impoverished huddle for warmth
around camp fires, cooking scraps of food they have scavenged by dumpster diving.

Christ-centered Christmas joy and contentment is not experienced or found in conspicuous consumption. God’s favor is not given through a religious business transaction undertaken in an edifice where salvation is promised in return for works and effort.

Christmas is about God who, in the person of Jesus, came to us willing to confront the very worst of what it means to be human, and to love us anyway. The Son of God, God-inthe-flesh came to die for those who would put him to death and for the religious methodology, systems and institutions that would hate and condemn him.

The Son of God was born into the world, not as a prince, but as a pauper. So, to deck up the legendary scene of his nativity with precious hangings, pictures, glittering lamps and other ornamentation, is to destroy whatever valid symbolism it might otherwise have had. Truly, we human beings have a wonderful facility for thus snatching fantasy from the jaws of truth. – Malcolm Muggeridge

Let us not think of Jesus as spiritual Prozac, designed to cure our depression by masking the symptoms but never offering a cure for the true problem. May we not be seduced by the silly and empty proposition that Jesus can be purchased and sold either at the shopping mall or in a church building. Jesus is not a product that may be purchased with human currency or effort. Jesus is neither a cute stuffed animal nor a gadget whose batteries must be replaced.

Let us instead glorify God in the highest, for Jesus, the gift of God, who completely revolutionizes our lives from the inside out.

Let us reject the truly audacious Christ-less teaching urging us to bring Jesus into our lives. The truth is that the only way to know God is to accept his invitation to come into his life!

Knowing God is not like purchasing new gadgets, devices and appliances to improve our lives, nor is it similar to sprucing up our house with a new coat of paint. Jesus came to reveal the Father, who invites us to move out of our house and into his. God, in Christ, came to pitch his tent in our neighborhood – to be near us, and to ultimately invite us to move in with him.

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses. – Taylor Caldwell

Apart from a relationship with God, given by his grace, in and through Jesus, this world is a sad and lonely world characterized by inhumanity, a pitiful place where humans are tortured by other humans, sold as chattel into sexual servitude and bondage and where civilians are brutalized, butchered and beheaded in the hatred of religious warfare. Blood continues to be spilled on our “good” earth, diseases rage unchallenged and hunger is a daily, all-pervasive reality for hundreds of millions.

Our enslaved and lonely world is a desperate place 1) of homeless and impoverished refugees and aliens, 2) of selfseeking, pleasure-crazed addicts and abusers and 3) of religious slaves who endlessly attempt to please God by their efforts.

Jesus comes to this desolate, forlorn world of the disenfranchised, homeless and spiritually abandoned refugees, offering the good news of an eternal relationship with God. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light… (Isaiah 9:2).

By God’s grace we see Jesus, the Light of the world, and we know, by that same grace, that he will never forsake or leave us. We will never, ever be alone.

What an incredible blessing it is for us, who have been physically and spiritually blessed by the providence of God, to be able to “pay forward” our blessings.

What an incredible blessing to be allowed to participate in a time of giving – in remembrance of Jesus, who himself is the greatest gift of all! We may purchase gifts for friends and loved ones, and we may give to those in both physical and spiritual need.

We may send cards of friendship and greeting. We may both sing and listen to others sing of the miracle and majesty of Christmas, the incarnation of our Lord. We may host and attend parties, making merry with food, drink and laughter.

The root word of Christmas is of course Christ, without Christ there is no Christmas! Jesus came to purchase us with his blood, to demonstrate and prove God’s love for us. Indeed, the very purpose of the birth of Jesus is to leave no doubt that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) loves this world!

Together we thank God that he assures us that neither a selfcentered orgy of greed and excess nor obsessive religious deeds and effort can ever remove Christ from Christmas. Materialism and Christ-less religion might blur and obscure the real meaning and significance of Christmas, but we don’t need to fuss and worry about how we need to work really hard to put Christ back into Christmas. Jesus is truly the same yesterday, today and forever and he will always be the reason for the season.

Because of Him,
Greg Albrecht

Letters to My Friends

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