Christmas Meditations And Reflections
12/19/2014 08:00AM ● Published by Aimee Cormier
Gallery: Pastors' Inspiration [4 Images] Click any image to expand.
Compiled By Michelle Matthews Calloway
Christmas is a time of wonder and joy for old and young alike. It’s a time to enjoy time well spent with family and close friends. Though the holiday is known for its hustle and bustle, Christmas should be observed with contemplation and gratitude. Indeed, we would do well to acknowledge and remember “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
We asked four area Pastors to share Christmas expressions that can serve as devotions and meditations. Their goal and ours is to inspire you to slow down, pause and reflect on God’s manifold blessings. We encourage you to take time to look up and read the verses shared in each reflection. Our prayer is that these words and their accompanying scriptures will enable you to focus on the true meaning of Christmas and rejoice in the birth of our Savior. Joy to the world!
The Greatest Event In The History Of The World
The event was wonderfully foretold by the great Jewish prophecy-writer Isaiah (7,14—but read the entire scene in 7,1-14), whose words over 700 years later were deemed fulfilled when quoted by the Christian Gospel-writer Matthew (1,18.22-23).
The event was so important that God sent his angels to announce it to humans; first to Mary, a betrothed virgin (Luke 1,26-38), and then to Joseph, her husband (Matthew 1,18-25), who was told that Mary “will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1,21).
The event was so earth-shaking that, even before it happened, Mary foretold to her cousin, Elizabeth, that “from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1,48—but read the whole scene in 1,39-56).
The event, when it did happen, was described with 20-20 hindsight by the Apostle Paul as having occurred “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4,4—but read all of 4,4-7)—that is, when everything in human history was “just right.”
The event happened while Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem for a census: “While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2,6-7).
The event was so heaven-shaking that, on the night it occurred, a multitude of angels lit up the sky and filled the air with the report that a completely new era of peace had begun (Luke 2,9.14—but read the whole scene in 2,1-14).
The event was humbly honored by a group of shepherds, society’s lowliest and poorest (Luke 2,15-20), and then also by society’s learned and wealthy foreigners from afar (Matthew 2,1-12).
That same event will be joyfully celebrated yet again this year on December 25, as is done every year, when the entire world-wide Christian community proclaims in prayer and carols this famous apostolic creed:
The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth…
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but
might have eternal life” (John 1,14 and 3,16).
Fr. Richard Greene Pastor, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish “On The Teche”
2514 Old Jeanerette Road, New Iberia
Episcopal Vicar, South Region,
Diocese of Lafayette
Joy to the World Psalm 98:2-9
Isaac Watts wrote a song almost 300 years ago entitled, “Joy to the World.” We think of this as a Christmas song, but if you look at the lyrics it is a song of praise. The words were inspired by Psalm 98.
Christmas is a stressful time for most people. Instead of bringing JOY, Christmas can bring frustration. A woman in her frustration blurted out in a crowd, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!” Some in the crowd nodded their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”
We need to remember who is responsible for the whole Christmas thing. It is all about how God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life. John 3:16
Unfortunately, many people leave Christ out of Christmas. Instead of looking to Jesus, people look for JOY anywhere and everywhere else. The kind of JOY the Bible describes can’t be found in possessions or entertainment or even in looking deeply into your inner self. The first line of “Joy to the World” sums it up. There is one reason that we can find JOY in this world. We can have joy because The Lord has come! That is what Christmas is all about. Receiving Christ is the important first step, but we must let him reign in our lives.
For each of us there is a menacing character that threatens to rob us of all our JOY. But at Christmas we can remember that the tiny Baby in the manger is stronger than all the giants in your life or mine. God has given us the Victory through the Gift of his Son. And that is why we can sing: JOY TO THE WORLD!
True JOY will be ours this Christmas if we will RECEIVE Christ, REPENT of our sins, and let Jesus REIGN in our lives with Truth and Grace. We need to look beyond the tinsel and lights and see the real cause of JOY. Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!
Rev. James Proctor Pastor, First Church of God in Christ
1901 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, Jeanerette
Superintendent, Franklin District, Louisiana First Jurisdiction
Emmanuel God With Us
The most delightful, uplifting, enjoyable and magical time of the year is Christmas. Being with family, loved ones and friends is so fulfilling, refreshing and nurturing to our hearts and to what is truly worthwhile for our well-being.
As we celebrate the Birth of the Savior, we remember the humble, simple and human beginnings of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer, born in a stable. At the center of the Christmas scene is Mary, the devoted and faithful Virgin who conceived the Savior through the grace of the eternal Father. How profoundly touching is the picture of Jesus, Mary and Joseph the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. The Holy Family is a lesson for our human family and us.
In the Christ-Child, the divine flesh becomes human and visible to us. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In the face of the Christ-Child, we see the face of God. As we accept in faith the presence of God among us, Jesus is Emmanuel!
May we wonder and appreciate the presence of the divine in us, in our loved ones and in others. In Jesus, God has come down among us so we have one like us to bring us to God. With Jesus, we human persons have dignity, value and worth.
How blessed we are to know that the Savior has shared our humanity in all things but sin. May the Child Jesus enable us to live in his peace, in his grace and in his mercy. May the example of the Savior born for us guide us in our personal relationships. May we share with one another the joy, the wonder, the hope and the gentleness of the Savior. Jesus is the Lord, Teacher and Shepherd at Christmas and every day of our lives.
Fr. Gary Schexnayder Pastor, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church
610 Raintree Trail, Lafayette
The Christmas Story: The Dawning of the Kingdom of God in Our Midst
We are all very familiar with the events of some 2,000 years ago on that mysterious and life-changing night. We know the story of how Joseph and Mary, at the very time when they most needed the security and comfort of home and the help of family and friends, are forced by circumstances beyond their control to leave their home and head for Bethlehem.
We know how, in the hazards of that journey and in the midst of political intrigue and upheaval, Mary is forced to give birth to Jesus in a stable, in the company of farm animals.
We know the story of how the shepherds, having heard the words of the angels and their song of glory, came to pay homage and to worship before the newborn King. These stories are all very familiar, all part of our Christmas celebrations. Of course, what we have actually done is to combine the differing accounts from Matthew and Luke’s gospels of the birth of Jesus into what is often described as the “Christmas Story.”
Since the nativity story is so well known, we must always guard against reducing this event to just another nice story – the birth of a child in trying circumstances, or indeed seeing this child as someone from the past when he is the dawning of the very kingdom of God in our midst. He is our salvation, the one we have come to recognize as the Son of God and our Savior.
As devout Jews, Mary and Jospeh would have known of this long cherished promise that was at the heart of their faith. Little did they realize, though, that they would each play such an important role in its fulfillment.
This was a holy event planned by God—a fulfillment of a promise long ago given. A divine child had been conceived, one who would save God’s people and bring them redemption. How very unlikely that this humble couple from a backwater town, in a turbulent and rocky part of the great Roman empire, had been chosen to play center stage.
What questions must have swirled around Joseph’s mind and heart as he came to understand God’s plan for his life. It would certainly take the reassurance of an angel to rise to this challenge! This is exactly what God did for him. “Do not be afraid,” he is told. “Don’t let human fear get in the way; have courage and trust.” Reassured by the angel, Joseph is able to embrace this new role, put aside fears and concerns, and do God’s will rather than his own.
We may not be called to such a mysterious and holy role as parents of the Christ-child, but we are each called by God to be part of this great plan as it continues to unfold through the generations. As we continue our celebration of the birth of Christ, let us take this opportunity to review our response to God’s call.
Yes, we can be full of trepidation and concern as we face the ups and downs of life, but we can buoy our faith by the examples of the faith and hope of Joseph and Mary. May the Christ-child be born in our hearts this holy season which we call “Christmas,” so that others may come to know that God is, indeed, faithful to his promise and that the life he offers us through his son Jesus Christ fulfills the words of Isaiah the prophet: that the one who is to be born is Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Wishing each and every one of you a blessed Christmas and a happy new year!
Fr. Mark Derise Pastor, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church
1303 St. Jude Ave., New Iberia