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The Hope of Christmas

It's just a few days until Christmas, yet here we are reading 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, and Hebrews. Not exactly where we think we should focus during Advent. However, I find there is a Christmas message we can take away from all this.

In all three letters, we find encouragement of how to live as Christians in a hostile and materialistic environment. We are told that regardless of the opposition, we can be confident that God's power will give us the strength needed to remain firm in our faith. Can you think of a more materialistic time of the year than Christmas? I can't.

Look what Christmas has become in our society: School programs are now holiday programs; Christmas trees are holiday trees; nativity scenes are prohibited at public buildings in many communities; radio stations play Christmas music 24/7, yet you are hard pressed to hear about Jesus in most of the tunes; TV ads at Christmas encourage us to buy more stuff and spend more than we can afford. The world is working very hard to take Christ out of Christmas. As Christians, we need to share the good news that Jesus is the reason for the season, and because of this, we are people of hope no matter what is going on around us. We need to be intentional about not falling prey to the chaos and "stuff" of Christmas, but instead, stay firm in our faith and focused on Jesus.

In Hebrews chapter 11, we find great examples of people of faith in the Old Testament patriarchs. No one knows who authored Hebrews, but it was written to a group of Jewish Christians, encouraging them to persevere in their faith regardless of persecution and difficult times. Hebrews 11:1 states, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Verse 39 tells us that the Old Testament people described were commended for their faith even though none of them received what had been promised.

These patriarchs lived before the coming of Christ and still held firm to their faith. We, however, live on the other side of Christmas. We see God's planned revealed - the hope He gave us - in the birth of a Savior. How are we sharing that with others this Christmas season?

Many people experience feelings of peace, joy, and love at this time of the year, but have no idea why. They perform acts of kindness, shower loved ones with gifts, celebrate with special foods and parties, but give no thought to the One who is responsible for the warmth they are feeling. Some are so stressed out by the busyness and expense that they heave a sigh of relief when the day is finally over. Others dread Christmas because they feel lonely due to the loss or lack of loved ones.

The Christmas message is just as relevant today as it was on that night in Bethlehem so long ago. People are still in need of the Savior, and we need to share that truth while standing firm in our own faith.

Because of Christmas, we can be people who overflow with hope, for on a special day in a special place, God sent His son to take on human form. The baby in the manger grew up to be our crucified and risen Savior.

Because of Christmas, we can have the assurance of spending eternity with God, our loved ones, as well as all the people of faith who have gone on before us.

So, whether you celebrate with a crowd, just a few, or find yourself alone this Christmas, celebrate and stand firm in your faith. Enjoy the festivities when you can, but never lose sight of the greatest gift of all -- Jesus, Immanuel, who came to give us hope, forgive our sins, heal our hurts, and offer us eternal life if we put our faith in Him. Let us also be willing to share this gift of hope with others!

~ Bev Tuitman

December 16th Readings
2 TIMOTHY 2:1-4:18

December 17th Readings
2 TIMOTHY 4:19-22
HEBREWS 1:1-4:13

December 18th Readings
HEBREWS 4:14-7:28

December 19th Readings
HEBREWS 8:1-10:39

December 20th Readings
HEBREWS 11:1-12:29

December 21st Readings
HEBREWS 13:1-25
1 PETER 1:1-2:3

December 22nd Readings
1 PETER 2:4-5:11