By Reverend Gerald Casson
Christmas is upon us. Christmas means different things to different people. For some, it is a holy day of faith in which we remember the birth of the Savior. For others, Christmas is a fun time to gather with family and friends, give gifts, and have parties. For some, Christmas is a sad time, a time in which we remember and miss loved ones past.
In the church, we spend four weeks preparing for Christmas, the birthday of Jesus. The four weeks prior to Christmas in the church are called Advent. The word, Advent, refers to the coming of Christ. During those four weeks we light a candle each week to remember aspects of who Jesus is to us and why he came. The four weeks prior to Christmas we light a candle representing Christ our hope, the love of Christ, Christ our joy, and Christ our peace. I think that it is obvious that our world and our lives could use more hope, love, joy, and peace.
One of the lessons that God is reminding me of this Christmas is that while there is much darkness in the world today, there is also a great deal of light. If you watch the news, mostly, it seems like darkness. But God reminds me at Christmas time that Christ was born into the world for the very purpose of dealing with the darkness of this world and that no darkness can overcome the light of Christ.
In the beginning of the Gospel of John, John writes about the coming of Jesus by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being. What was coming to being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot
God reminds me not to allow myself to focus too much on the darkness. I believe that if we really look, we will see signs of hope and light all around us. I am blessed to be surrounded by very generous, giving, and loving people. In my church, people care for one another and support one another in good times and bad. The community of Johnson City is filled with wonderful churches and ministries that exist to make a difference in the lives of others. These churches and ministries are signs of hope and light that make this community a better place. And while we may not be able to dispel all the darkness we see, God reminds us that if we focus on the darkness, pretty soon, that is all we will see.
Christmas time is a reminder of the love, joy, hope, and peace of God that are gifts given for all who will receive. These gifts are very real and make a huge difference in how we experience the world every day. These gifts can change our experience of the world, bringing light and change into our lives, healing broken relationships, and giving us a very real hope that will not disappoint.
I am thankful for all the good people in my church community and across Johnson City who seek to share God’s gifts of love, joy, hope, and peace with others. As we focus on these things together, they grow and they change things. Continue to be signs of hope and light! God bless you.