The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

What Is Christmas?

by Jim Clayton, Quill Reporter, La Harpe

Christmas is upon us and it seems that every where we turn the same thoughts are being echoed, "It has been stressful, expensive, and it came upon us too fast.'

Is that what Christmas is all about? Are we supposed to be wrung out emotionally and financially, counting the moments until it is over?

That seems an unlikely view. Have we lost sight of what it is all about?

The first six letters of the word Christmas speak to the true meaning. It does seem that if we are going to call a major holiday-CHRISTmas-it is important to at least find out why it is called that.

We decided to put a question to the local clergy in La Harpe and find out what is the true meaning of Christmas.

Assistant Pastor Rick Goettsche of The Union Church put it very succinctly,

"The pat answer would be to talk about the over commercialization of Christmas, but that would not speak to the true meaning. Christmas represents the fact that Jesus was born to eventually die for our sins."

Pastor Tom Wright of the La Harpe, (Terre Haute and Durham) United Methodist Church said, "I see Christmas as being four things.

"The baby Jesus was God's olive branch or peace offering to us. God is not mad at us.

"When the baby Jesus was taken to the temple to be circumcised Simeon put it this way, "I can now die in peace, for I have seen God's salvation.' Salvation means defender.

"At the same time, Anna referred to the baby as the redemption of Israel, which means ransom.

"What does Christmas mean to me? It means:

1. Jesus is our peace,

2. Jesus is our salvation,

3. Jesus is our defender,

4. Jesus is our ransom."

There does not seem to be any holiday stress, or burn out associated with those two answers. What else could Christmas mean?

"What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Christmas is God in sandals," said Pastor Darren Beachy of the La Harpe Christian Church.

"God revealed himself in a little baby named Jesus, who grew up to be the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

Through the life of Jesus, we come to know true peace, joy, and love for God and for one another," he added.

"God sent His Son into the world for the purpose of dying for our sins," extolled Pastor Jim Johnson of the Agape Church.

"Jesus is more than the cute little baby we remember at Christmas, we have to remember that He was born to die."

The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas can be traced to the wise men who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus.

Wright also had this to say, "We have it all backwards. Christmas should be a time when we receive what Jesus gave to us,:salvation."

Based on what these men say, it is unlikely that the true meaning of Christmas has anything at all to do with the mall, sales at the mall, or sitting on the lap of Mr. Claus while at the mall.

It does, however, seem much more fitting that this holiday would have more to do with the one for whom it is named.

"Through the life of Jesus, we learn that we are truly free and have true purpose only when we serve one another and serve God.

Christmas is a life of following God in sandals," says Beachy.

The Bible says in John chapter three verse 16, "For God so loved the world that He gave:"

And what he gave was not a new bicycle or an X-Box 360, it was His son, ":His only begotten son,"

So, as these men of the cloth have suggested, the true meaning of Christmas has little to do with what we see in the commercials on television and the ads in the paper.

"We need to receive the gift of God, not the gifts of men," suggested Wright.

"We need to make sure that the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus, is born in our hearts anew this season."