CLERGY CORNER: The most wonderful time of the year

Posted on 25 December 2014 by LeslieM

A popular song heard regularly over radio during Christmas is Andy Williams’ classic rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The song celebrates the traditional activities that accompany Christmas, including gathering with our families, feasting, enjoying fellowship and having fun. Thoughtful lyrics and a memorable melody capture the joy and excitement that we first discovered as children anticipating Dec. 25. Although numerous other artists have recorded the song, it is Andy Williams’ golden-voiced version that has helped to solidify it as a perennial Christmas favorite.

The idea of jingle belling and swapping scary ghost stories may be foreign to modern observations of the season. Singing carols and hymns, having holiday parties and remembering past Christmases is much more in line with what we are accustomed to. Crowded shopping malls, colorful light displays, giving and receiving gifts, enjoying fruitcake and eggnog, are experiences that characterize the festive nature of the season. Though there are some who do not celebrate Christmas, there is an undeniable sense of wonder and joy among those who observe its traditions.

Beyond the sights, sounds and anticipation of gifts, however, what really makes Christmas memorable and wonderful is the reason it exists in the fi rst place. Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior at Christmas: God’s Son given to redeem mankind from slavery to sin. The Bible teaches that sin entered the human experience when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Their act of rebellion made them sinners and imputed their sin upon all of their descendants. Even when given specifi c instructions as to how to honor God and treat fellow human beings, mankind was unable to live according to the Creator’s intentions.

God could and should have visited humanity with righteous judgment, but He decided to take the penalty of man’s disobedience upon Himself by sending His Son. The incarnation refers to God becoming like man in order to save mankind. In Galatians 4:4-5, we are told “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (NIV). It was His love for His creation that moved Him to demonstrate mercy and grace towards us. John 3:16 indicates, “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 (NKJV).” This undeserved favor is accepted by believers, and motivates them to serve and to honor God by living for His pleasure.

It is very easy to be caught up with the colorful lights and the lure of sales discounts at your favorite store. Santa Claus, Frosty the snowman and Rudolph the red nosed reindeer are now established seasonal characters. And while we ought to enjoy the traditions that help to make this season memorable for us, we should never overlook the reason why there is a Christmas. The essence of the Christmas story is the Creator’s willingness to provide the remedy for our sinfulness: the life of His dear Son. The remembrance of God’s great love demonstrated in this awesome act is what truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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