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Archive for Saturday, December 25, 2010

Faith Forum: How would you expect Jesus to celebrate his birthday if he were a modern man?

December 25, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated 12:00 a.m.

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The Rev. Shaun LePage, pastor, Community Bible Church, 906 N. 1464 Road:

How would I expect Jesus to celebrate his birthday if He were a modern man? Exactly the same way He did in the first century.

He didn’t celebrate the exact date He was born in Bethlehem. But He did celebrate His birth. He celebrated not by getting presents, but by giving the most tremendous gift of history.

Here’s how I know: Shortly before He died, Jesus asked,

“…What shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?” (John 12:27).

“This hour” referred to His death. Though He clearly would have preferred to avoid the Cross, He knew He would follow through and die for us. Why? Look what He said next in John 12:27: “But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

There’s Jesus’ birthday! He “came” to earth (was born) for that “purpose” of taking on Himself the wrath of God for the sins of the world.

Unlike us, Jesus chose to be born. He existed before His birth and “gave up His divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-9, NLT).

That’s how Jesus celebrated His birthday: By fulfilling the purpose for which He came. And that’s exactly how I would expect Him to celebrate today. This also tells us how He wants us to celebrate His birthday: By believing that He died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.

Charles Wesley got it right: “Mild he lays his glory by; born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth! Hark! The herald angels sing: ‘Glory to the newborn king!’”

— Send e-mail to Shaun LePage at shaun@community-bible.org.

The Rev. Pam Morrison, pastor, Amazing Grace Community Church, 1251 E. 1900 Road:

There are two things to be noted from the Bible about Jesus. He worshipped and served. Often he would withdraw to a quiet place to pray, then wade back into the pressing needs of the crowds.

I say this because as a modern man, I imagine we’d find him worshipping often during Christmas. On Christmas Eve, candles glittering in the dark, “Silent Night” touching our deep yearning for peace, Jesus would be singing with us.

How would he be present in service? I’ve been reading about Missouri’s secret Santa who gave away $1.3 million dollars over years, a practice begun as he lost a job. Spotting a car hop in the cold, he gave her $20, discovering this truth: you can lose the shirt off your back, but if you still give, you win over fear and loss, remaining “rich.” Jesus taught that, so he would do similar things.

He would put food on a plate at a shelter, sit by the bed of someone in pain. He would be in the home where a job’s been lost or divorce has struck, playing with kids, speaking hope into adults.

I’ve thought a great deal about where a modern Jesus would be this Christmas as my own father is dying. I have seen Jesus in the kindness of many: young CNAs who offer tissues, a therapist singing “Amazing Grace” in the dim light of a hospice room. Jesus has touched the broken places in a family to make it whole. Yes, if he was a modern man, Jesus would do all the things that many compassionate people do, for he is the one who spurs the impulse. I am grateful that Jesus is not a man and limited. The light is in the world and the darkness has not overcome it.

— Send e-mail to Pam Morrison at revpmorrison@aol.com.

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