But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
People who don't take sin seriously don't take Jesus seriously either (kind of, like, people who don't take cancer seriously, don't take the need to quit smoking seriously either). During this holiday season we are reminded annually that people (including many "Christians") don't take Christ seriously. And listening to the annual debate about symbolic displays one can easily see that the focus has a tendency to be shifted from Jesus, whose incarnation is commemorated at Christmas to individual rights to display one's favorite symbols.
We can become very disturbed by the attitude of people at this season, but we should remember that ever since Adam and Eve took that bite of the forbidden fruit, God lost His welcome in this world the world wasn't happy to see Jesus when He came into the world, and the world will not be happy with anything or anyone that tries to perpetuate the memory of that Coming or the celebration of His accomplishment. The coming of Jesus was for the purpose of frustrating and destroying the works of its ruler the devil. John wrote: The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
But by those who take advantage of the accomplishments of Jesus, both His name and His work are taken seriously, and they cannot help but celebrate even if the celebration irks the citizens of this pathetic, degraded, defeated world.
Sin is serious sin is lawlessness sin is rebellion against God and the wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). And to make matters worse, sin has affected every human being who has ever lived or will live (Romans 3:23). That's why the angel's message to the shepherd was that the news of the birth of the Savior was to bring joy to all people. Being fifty miles off shore in a damaged boat that's taking on water and surrounded by hungry sharks is a serious situation seeing a coast guard helicopter coming to your rescue is a joyful sight. But the salvation that Jesus offers is of infinitely greater significance.
Salvation is a biblical word, so we don't apologize for using it in this message. So: If you are saved through the atoning death of Jesus don't stop celebrating the coming of the Savior as well as the promise of His return. If you are still in your sins, because you have never appealed to God for salvation, then you must do the only responsible thing that a person can do: Go to God in the name of Jesus; confess your sins; and in the name of Jesus receive the forgiveness of your sins; and begin a new life which will honor God while you are still on this earth, and will lead you into the inheritance of God's kingdom which is the promise to all who take these steps. Paul declares that those who are in Christ are a new creation the old life is history the new life is now enjoyed in harmony with God (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Celebrating holidays and defending the right to display symbols of the faith of any holiday will not secure your standing with God the best symbol of Christmas (and any other Christian holiday) is a transformed life. No one can stand in the way of its display.
Wishing everyone a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)