December 2023 Newsletter
It is that time of year again . . . Christmas! That time when we celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ. It is a time when joy, love, and peace are promoted and yet for so many, Christmas is a time that emphasizes loneliness, a lack of hope, and feelings of worthlessness.
What the manger most likely looked like that Jesus was laid in.
In the first chapter of the book of Genesis, we read that God spoke creations like the universe, animals and plants and everything we see in the natural world into existence. These masterful creations hold a standard of creativity that is inconceivable to the human mind. However, on the sixth day, God created man in his own image. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image according to our likeness.” Humans were the only creation that he purposefully created in what the Latin version of the Bible says as, “Imago Dei,” image of God.
To be made in God’s image means that as his most beloved and worthy creation, we are set apart because when he created us, he gave us reflections of his own characteristics that allow us to love, be patient, forgive, be kind and faithful. Knowing that we are all made in the image of God, empowered with his characteristics, we must love others recognizing that each person we meet is made in the image of God. As followers of Christ, our eyes need to see the true value and worth of every single person we encounter. Human worth is not to be judged by status, income or how many possessions we have. God sees our hearts. He challenges us to see others through his eyes and to love without conditions.
As we reflect on the birth of our Lord, consider how people must have looked upon Mary and Joseph. They were foreigners, in a strange place, surrounded by crowds of people. They had nowhere to sleep, and Mary was about to give birth. Picture the place where the most-high king was first laid. A manger, likely made of stone. People looked at the lowly accommodations, the simple surroundings, and the humble parents and made judgments about them and did not realize they were seeing God. Of course, there were those who knew because an angel told them; the shepherds of the fields and the Magi. However, from the time he arrived, Jesus was primarily scorned and looked upon with indifference or as a threat.
Friends, as Christians, we need to set the example of how to treat others. Every face we see, every name we speak, every person whose name we do not know, is made in the image of God, and deserves to be treated as such. Let us use this Christmas season as an opportunity to love others like God commands. Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Remember, everyone God brought into this world is worthy of kindness, love, compassion, empathy, and kindness. This Christmas, give the greatest gift of all, LOVE! †