Local ministers deliver Christmas tidings to congregations

Published 10:41 pm Saturday, December 24, 2016


NATCHEZ — Remember the reason for season.

The alliterative rhyme is one Christians hear often at Christmastime.

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But even the most pious of believers can lose sight of the message during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and local pastors say they will use their Christmas sermons to remind their congregations of the true meaning of Christmas.

Martha may not have been making last-minute trips to the mall or fretting over delayed gift deliveries, but she did forget what was truly important when she opened her home to Jesus and his disciples as described in chapter 10 of Luke.

Martha’s dilemma is one the Rev. Scott Green of the First Assembly of God is using to illustrate to his Christmas Day congregation the importance of keeping Christ first during the holidays.

“Martha invited Jesus and the disciples into her home, and while they were there, she was so busy trying to do all the preparations, and her sister Mary refused to help,” Green said. “Martha was so upset that she went and fussed at Jesus and said, ‘Do you care that I’m doing all the work by myself? Aren’t you going to tell her to help?’

“And Jesus told Martha, ‘You’re worried about many things, but Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Like Martha, Green said, it is easy for Christians to dwell so much on perfecting every detail of celebrations that they forget the real reason for the holiday.

“We get so caught up in making everything perfect … we sometimes forget that Jesus is right here in our homes,” he said. “Sometimes we can’t see it because we are so distracted by all the things around us. It’s easy to get so caught up in the work of Lord that we forget the Lord of the work.

“His work is right in front of us, and it’s easy to overlook when we’re focusing on every detail.”

Without the birth of Christ, none of the details even matter, says the Rev. Andy Blair of Crosspoint Church.

Blair says he, too, sees Christians lose sight of Christ during the holidays, because it is so easy to do so.

In an effort to keep his congregation focused on the true meaning of Christmas, Blair has spent the past several weeks breaking down the “who, what, when, where and why” of the events leading up to Christ’s birth. Those lessons will culminate today with the story of the birth.

“We’ve been looking at all the different prophecies of the virgin birth, where Jesus was from, where He would be born, His family lineage and all those sorts of things,” Blair said. “From the announcement from the angel that He would be born from a virgin all the way up through (today) and talking about what actually happened.”

The series of sermons has been an ongoing reminder, Blair said, to keep Christ first at Christmastime.

“First of all, we all have to remember that in the society we live in, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hoopla of Christmas trees and Santa Claus,” he said. “But we need to remember at the end of the day what the real reason for the season is. Without the birth of Christ, none of this even matters.”

With the commercialization of many of the Christian holidays, especially Christmas, the Rev. Birdon Mitchell of Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church said, too, many Christians forget who they are celebrating.

As a reminder, Mitchell will be asking his congregation a simple question today.

“Have you received God’s gift,” he said. “Many of the Christian holidays are so commercialized that it takes people away from the real reason we are to celebrate. Look at the exchanging of gifts. Many people are caught up in those gifts and forget the gift that God has given us. They focus on the tangible gifts instead of the spiritual gifts that God gives us.

“On this day, we need to be reminded that had it not been for Christ, there would be no Christmas.”