Patch asked clergy members at area churches to share with our readers some of their thoughts about the meaning of Christmas and the significance of this day.As you share this day with your friends and family, please take a few minutes to read what local pastors have to say about the true meaning of Christmas.
Pastor David Kolander
Christ the Lord Lutheran Church, Brookfield
It is great to get gifts at Christmas, but to give gifts at Christmas can bring even greater joy. Seeing the reaction of a child or a special friend or an aging parent as they open something you picked out especially for them can fill your heart with happiness and your eyes with tears.
As Christians, we have the opportunity both to get and to give gifts at Christmas time. The apostle Paul wrote about this kind of spiritual gift-getting and gift-giving in his letter to Titus when he said of our Savior, “He gave himself for us to redeem from us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).
The meaning of Christmas rests squarely in God’s promise that he has given us the gift of “redemption.” God sent his Son to pay the price for our sins against him. That is why we can sing in one of the great Christmas hymns, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” That gift of redemption which we get from God then leads us to give to God the gift of our lives, since through Christ we are “eager to do what is good.” Our Thank You Card to Jesus is a life lived to give him glory and to benefit the people he puts into our life.
That is the kind of gift-getting and gift-giving we hope you are able to enjoy this Christmas through the One born in that little town on that holy night.
The Rev. Phillip Bogacki
St. John Vianney Catholic Parish, Brookfield
This time of year can be, ironically, quite miserable as we consider the credit card debt we’ve racked up over the last weeks, those things left behind at work we’ll have to finish, or relatives we don’t really want to see.
But this year in particular we share as a society even more worries than the past. Business in almost every sector has been soft. People are uncertain about their jobs, if they still have them. Someone I know at a large company recently bought out says he’s petrified of every Friday, afraid of being laid off before the weekend. Many in our parish are out of work for well over a year, drawing on retirement and precious savings, if they’re lucky.
And spiritual concerns follow. I hear more and more fears of the last days, of the apocalypse. There is a lot right now to feed fear. And it would be understandable to “hate” the world that we live in. And to be angry at God. All these worries and concerns.
How important it is, with this reality in mind, that we gather as a body of Christ on Christmas. Because what this Solemnity is about is a small child being born but even more fundamentally, we celebrate, reaffirm our faith in God’s fundamental “yes” to humanity. Jesus Christ is God saying “yes” to each one of us as human beings and the world that we live in. He affirms us as a gift, as a treasure, as a person of worth who has not only His undivided attention, but His very life that He will share with us.
What God creates He never leaves alone. We must never forget this because we suffer when we forget about this, when we don’t have time for this. We suffer when we forget about the dignity that we are given in Christ Jesus. And we suffer when we forget that this Christ Jesus shares our aches, our heartbreak, our anxiety, our loneliness, our depression. That’s what Christmas is about, it’s certainly being realistic about our concerns, but always remembering that nothing is beyond the love and the power of Christ Jesus.
All of the concerns we all have, whether they be large or small, temporary or worries we have had for a long time, why don’t we find freedom in him, freedom in this child? Leave them in this crib for God, who came among us, to deal with them. Leave your worries in the crib and trust. Let them go and let God handle them as He can. For this child is God who loves us and wants nothing else than for us to be happy and healthy.
May this Christmas be a time of gratitude to God for – in an imperfect world - the profound “yes” that He has pronounced to you and to me in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Rob Goodwin
Grace Lutheran Church, Menomonee Falls
Christmas is a time of great joy. It is a time of God showing His great love for us. You see, Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to be born. His birth brought great joy to the world. Shepherds, wise men, and angels all shared in the excitement of knowing about this great event. They knew this was no ordinary baby. The prophets had told of His coming hundreds of years before. The star stopped over Bethlehem just to mark the way for those who were looking for this special child.
Luke Chapter 2 says: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
God sent Jesus to us so that one day, He would grow up to become a very important part of history. His story is one of truth, love, and hope. It brought salvation to all of us. Without Jesus, we would all die in our sins. Jesus was born so one day the price could be paid for the things we have done that are wrong. Jesus accomplished this for us. The Bible says that all have sinned. We are all born with a sinful nature. We do things that do not please God. Through the sins of Adam and Eve, we have all inherited that sinful nature. We need to be forgiven of those sins. The only way is through Jesus.
Jesus came so He could die on the cross for all of our sins. If we believe the words of the angels, the words that tell of the good news that our Savior has come and believe that Jesus died for our sins, we can be assured of the forgiveness of our sins. Then, we are clean and made whole. We can know for sure that heaven is a place where we can go to when this life is over.
That is the true message of Christmas, our Savior is born.
Pastor Mike Frie
Metro Harvest Church, Menomonee Falls
Even though we're not experiencing a white Christmas, most if not all of our traditions can remain intact. Gathering with family, exchanging gifts, eating foods we normally wouldn't at a pace that our metabolisms can't keep up with, and having a festive attitude through all the challenges that this time of year brings.
While all these are important, they only orbit around something much more central to who we are as Christians. Christmas is really all about Jesus coming into a very dark world to bring light to our lives. He didn't come to merely improve our lives, but to transform them as the Light of the World. He came to demonstrate that God is near. He is Immanuel, "God With Us," and His life was given to lead us to God through Himself, even as a shepherd leads his sheep.
His birth is not only celebrated, but elevated. After all, not just everyone splits time in two.