Pastor’s Pen

Some have hailed and proclaimed that the Christmas season is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. Undoubtedly, some of life’s most cherished memories have been emblazoned in the hearts of all people who enjoy the ringing laughter of children, the unveiling of winter fashion, the arrival of arctic temperatures and the warmth of family fellowship. This time is further enhanced by the joy of hanging Christmas decorations and listening to the Temptations, Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, Donny Hathaway and the Jackson 5 bellow Christmas classics. As generational recipes are shared and items from black Friday and cyber Monday are immaculately wrapped, few would argue that Christmas is unlike any other time of the year. By far, it is the best time of year, but not for any of the reasons previously listed.

In the Advent hymn, O Holy Night, the hymnologist pens a line in the first stanza that illuminates the true joy of Christmas: ‘Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth’. The writer describes the helpless and fallen state of humanity desperately in need of redemption. The process of this long-needed redemption began to turn with the arrival of the Savior and the realization that the soul was more valuable than the sin that besmirched it. God sent Christ into the world because our souls have worth to Him. We are valuable to Him! This is the greatest reminder of Christmas! Hallelujah and Amen!

Nevertheless, although we are valuable to God, the question remains, “are we valuable to one another?” Do we view our neighbor with the same lens that God looks upon each of us? This question stands as the dominating antithetical question to the true joy of Christmas. At this very moment, Native Americans in North Dakota are suffering some of the most inhumane treatment that media has ever refused to record and report. The president-elect built a mass following by spewing and condoning hate to the conscience of a country whose soul needs redemption. The city of Chicago has lost more lives to violence than many countries around the world. Christians refuse to love and encourage other Christians. Church-goers routinely pass by the destitute on their way to worship. Do we view our neighbor with the same lens that God looks upon each of us? Do we see the value and worth in God’s creation?

This Christmas, I want to issue a new challenge to view others as people of intrinsic worth. Our worth is not based upon income or address, assets or education, pedigree or social standing. Our worth is measured by the extent of love shown by a merciful God who sent His son to be our Savior! We matter to God! Rejoice and be glad!