This Sunday is the last Sunday of Advent, the last day of worship of four where we anticipate the coming of Jesus as a baby boy which we will celebrate next Wednesday. And the beautiful picture of the traditional rural church above was sent to me by one of my best readers and I found it quite special for Christmas and the celebration. I don't know who the photographer was, but it is beautiful and he or she should be congratulated for such fine work. The combination of red, green and white makes a striking natural decoration for the day and it requires no additions, save the natural wreath which I believe is displayed on the door.
Many of us who are Christians will on Christmas Eve at church services light the fifth and final candle on the Advent wreath signifying that the baby is arriving. The anticipation that we have had is replaced by knowing that the Christ Child, God's gift for the Salvation of mankind is made real by his birth as a mortal child while also retaining His place as a part of the Holy Trinity of God. Though He lived with the same hardships and difficulties as the common man, He was able to live His life as the only perfect man there ever was or will be. He did it by sticking to the tasks that the Father set for Him, no matter how difficult or painful and by living totally clean and pure. Why? Because He knew that was His task to succeed in as a mortal man and He would not fail His father. In the process, he preached and taught Goodness and Light, had the spiritual intellect to deal with haughty priestly scholars who looked down their noses at Him and He established in living form the Living Word of what was expected of us by the Father.
The reality of Jesus as a man in those times over two thousand years ago is clearly made evident by his works and deeds and the fact that they have been recorded and remained constant through the ages. While it is true that there are some who claim the faith yet doubt the truth of His complete story and, of course, they are free to do as they wish, many more retain the traditional view. But at least from my perspective, if God is the All Powerful Being that we claim Him to be, why wouldn't the story of Jesus be correct just as it was written? After all, the initial writing was done by those who witnessed Him and, in so many cases, spent most of those last three years with Him before His execution. They themselves were ridiculed and dealt with harshly, even to death in the end, yet they labored on with their story which by divine inspiration has since been written in many different languages for all to see. Had it been just a tale or a cultish thing, it would have never lasted and grown so large a following as the world sees today and its believers would have likely given up their beliefs if they weren't so strongly held. No, Christ lived just as the Bible says and died horribly but all so that each of us, past, present and future, could have the opportunity to accept his offer of Salvation through faith. What a marvelous story of His birth that opened the doors to Eternity for all of us, if only we believe.
So, while you enjoy the food and fellowship, the presents and the colorful decorations and the opportunity for redemption that this event opened a thirty-three year human life to give us, fall on your knees and thank God for the gift of love, grace and redeeming hope that begins with the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger because there was no room for Him at the Inn. It truly starts the Greatest Story Ever Told and it's a story we should never grow tired of. I know I don't. How about you?