Help us keep Christ in Christmas

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Christmas brings with it many wonderful traditions. We decorate trees, display lights, sing carols, join with family and friends, feast and give gifts.

Many of us have grown up with these traditions and look forward to them every year.

But these traditions, while joyous, do have a reason. It is easy to get so focused on and caught up in the expressions of celebration and gift-giving that we lose sight of why we celebrate Christmas at all — the “reason for the season.”

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And that is, of course, that God became man in Jesus Christ — the Incarnation.  While it is certainly possible to enjoy Christmas without any or much of the faith element, to do so misses the opportunity to truly celebrate the greatest gift of all in a season of gift-giving.

Christmas was created by a loving Heavenly Father, who so loved the world, that He gave us the most noble and sacrificial of all gifts. He sent His own Son, in the form of a babe, gift wrapped in a humble manger, who would give His life that we might have eternal life.

We have all likely heard the phrase “Keep the Christ in Christmas.”

How can we best do that in the midst of all the merriment of the season?

Christmas is really about the joy of giving, not merely receiving. It is the giving of ourselves to each other and giving thanks to God.

The real spirit of Christmas for each of us can be giving, loving, caring and serving — just as our loving Father in Heaven has provided to us.

We can hold dear these values to our hearts, and use this season as an opportunity to give blessing to others, and to share the love of Christ with our friends and family.

Giving of ourselves and giving thanks to God truly places Jesus as the reason for the season.

In John 3:16, the Bible says the message clearly: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Perhaps the best way to give thanks to God for His great gift to us is through prayer and worship. There are many opportunities for worship at Christmas, and it is my hope that all Christians take part.

One of these opportunities is a candlelight vigil worship service at 3 p.m., Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, at historic Christ Episcopal Church in Church Hill.

Additional worship services are at Trinity Episcopal Church, 305 S. Commerce St., the oldest church building in Natchez. They are a candlelight festival service at 6 p.m., Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. and another service at 10 a.m., Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Both churches will be decorated for Christmas, and both will provide prayer, scripture readings, Holy Communion and music.

We welcome you at all three services. Please join us as we strive to keep Christ in Christmas.

The Rev. Ken Ritter is the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and the vicar of Christ Episcopal Church.