RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the true meaning of Christmas

Missing Christ

Until high school, I was a struggling student, caring more about fitting in than getting good grades. This immaturity caused me to surround myself with individuals with questionable character. By the time I reached junior high school, I was somewhere between amoral and naïve, going through the motions. This spiritual condition led me to miss Christ’s role in Christmas as presents distracted me from the true meaning of Christmas.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:7-8.

Perhaps, I was hindered by Catholicism, going from point A to point B. After celebrating my first communion, my parents enrolled me in CCD, the Catholic version of Sunday School. Unfortunately, adult Sunday School classes were fun, CCD was more like going to school, but more boring. Instead of simplifying this process, the pursuits of sacraments, theology and traditions staggered my faith.

For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [[g]endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness], 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The most important aspect of CCD is preparing 8th graders for Confirmation. While I still didn’t grasp Jesus’ role in the mass of Christ, I was exposed to God’s free gift of salvation, Romans 6:23. Looking back, going through the Confirmation process laid a foundation for my current faith. As you unwrap your gifts this Christmas, don’t miss the spiritual truth of a Savior born to save mankind from sinful desires that wage war against human souls.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond Tradition

In order to keep with tradition, individuals will travel across the country if necessary to be with their family.  American minds have been programmed to gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas annually, getting stressed out and becoming broke in the process.  Is this cycle really worth repeating or has the meaning of these special holidays become lost in translation from one generation to the next?  Perhaps the meaning lies somewhere beyond tradition.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, Philippians 4:6.

As a former teacher,  I know Thanksgiving has become commercialized and stripped of its original meaning to avoid becoming politically incorrect.  Yet, if you search hard enough, you will find what really happened to celebrate this occasson.  Early on the Pilgrims initially tried communism, sharing the land and it’s harvests for the common good of the community.  However, when hard working individuals realized there was no reward for going above and beyond what was expected, production declined making that first winter difficult to survive.  Recognizing this flawed system, the following year families were allowed to keep any excess harvest, bartering and trading with Indians.  When the concept of this free market system took off, the Pilgrims and Indians came together after the fall harvest to thank God for providing enough food to get families through the winter.

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High, Psalm 7:17.

Unless you are homeless or poor, it’s hard to appreciate the effort necessary to collect, gather and store food for several months without a refrigerator or modern applicances.  Some nights, families went to bed starving, not knowing when or if another meal will be provided.  This desperate environment forces you to either work tiredlessly for food or develop a complete trust that God will somehow supernaturally provide.  Today, Americans have so much more than the Pilgrims ever did that many become spoiled, complaining about superficial aspects of life.  Sure, it would be great to be rich, buy family members lavish Christmas gifts and not have to worry about making a car or house payment.  Yet, it’s time to go beyond the tradition of Thanksgiving and Christmas to see life for what it is, a gift from God.  Don’t let earthly demands for these holidays steal your joy.  Rather, each time you wake up, look around at the blessings you have been given so that a spirit of gratitude will reign despite what others may do or say this holiday season.

by Jay Mankus

A Second Chance at Sight

In the 1988 film, Scrooged, Bill Murray is looking for a second chance in life.  Meanwhile, Alfre Woodard, playing Murray’s secretary Grace Cooley, prays for a Christmas miracle.  Inspired by visits from Christmas ghosts of the past, current and future, Murray risks his job by highjacking a live Christmas program to communicate the meaning of Christmas.  In the process, Cooley’s son who hadn’t spoken a word in years, breaks his silence at the conclusion of this live event.

As for me, I’ve received a second chance at sight.  Only a few people were aware of the pain I endured for 2 months this fall.  Unable to bear it any longer, I went to my eye doctor to see if I needed glasses.  Thinking old age was the main culprit, a set of tests revealed that my retinas were swollen, filled with fluids.  As the initial medicine made my condition worse to begin with, the nightmare of not being able to read things like the Bible was a real possibility.  However, 2 weeks later, God has given me a second chance at sight.

Therefore, as you open presents this Christmas season, don’t overlook the most precious gifts of all.  Whether its your senses, friendships or the memories of those who are no longer with you, Christmas is a time of second chances.  A season of forgiveness with the birth of a Savior, Matthew 1:21, who came to give you a new leash on life.  This Christmas, I got a second chance at sight.  As for you, may the power of the Holy Spirit reveal to you what you should be most thankful for.

by Jay Mankus

 

Exchanging Fear With Joy

In Luke 2:8-9, an ordinary group of people have a supernatural encounter with angelic beings.  These blue collar workers. shepherds in a field, were interrupted from their daily responsibility of overseeing their master’s sheep.  As bright lights shined on their face, each was gripped with fear, paralyzing their bodies as each dropped to their knees trying to protect their eyes the glory of the Lord.

Noticing their response, the angel sent by God brings a message of hope to a dark night in verses 10-12.  According to Luke 2:13, a great company of heavenly hosts appear.  The Greek word Luke chooses is stratus, referring to layers and layers of angels in the skies.  This event doesn’t happen at church or in temple, rather God celebrates Jesus’ birth out in the open.  Somewhere in between Luke 2:9 and Luke 2:14, the shepherds exchange their fear with joy as the angel sang praises to God.

Unfortunately, this simple story has been neglected, overlooked due to modern practices of this holiday.  Christmas is not about exchanging gifts, receiving items that you either don’t need or have too much of.  Rather, Christmas is spiritual practice of exchanging your earthly fears with the joy of Jesus entering the world.  Romans 5:6-8 highlights the true meaning of Jesus’ birth, coming to earth and dying as a perfect sacrifice so that the fear of death is eliminated.  May the promise of John 3:16 transform for you the purpose and meaning of Jesus on this Christmas Day.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: