What does Christmas Mean?

The author AW Tozer once wrote a powerful article about the meaning of Christmas. Though it was written several decades ago, the words have more impact for today than ever before. Christmas is not about the celebrations, the materialism, the gifts, or even the family time. It is about a Savior! As we approach Christmas Day, may our hearts and minds be fixed upon the truth of God’s Word.

Throughout the Western world we tend to approach Christmas emotionally instead of factually. It is the romance of Christmas that gives it its extraordinary appeal to that relatively small number of persons of the earths population who regularly celebrate it.

So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. The theology of Christmas too easily gets lost under the gay wrappings, yet apart from its theological meaning it really has none at all. A half dozen doctrinally sound carols serve to keep alive the great deep truth of the Incarnation, but aside from these, popular Christmas music is void of any real lasting truth. The English mouse that was not even stirring, the German Tannenbaum so fair and lovely and the American red-nosed reindeer that has nothing to recommend it have pretty well taken over in Christmas poetry and song. These along with merry old St. Nicholas have about displaced Christian theology.

We must not forget that the Church is the custodian of a truth so grave and urgent that its importance can not be overemphasized, and so vast and incomprehensible that even an apostle did not try to explain it; rather it burst forth from him as an astonished exclamation:

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. – 1 Timothy 3:16 ESV

This is what the Church is trying to say to mankind but her voice these days is thin and weak and scarcely heard amid the commercialized clangor of Silent Night.

It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import. The same man who will check his tires and consult his road map with utmost care before starting on a journey may travel for a lifetime on the way that knows no return and never once pause to ask whether or not he is headed in the right direction.

The Christmas message, when stripped of its pagan overtones, is relatively simple: God is come to earth in the form of man. Around this one dogma the whole question of meaning revolves. God did come or He did not; He is come or He is not, and the vast accumulation of sentimental notions and romantic practices that go to make up our modern Christmas cannot give evidence on one side or the other.

Christ’s coming to Bethlehem’s manger was in harmony with the primary fact of His secret presence in the world in preincarnate times as the Light that lighteth every man. The sum of the New Testament teaching about this is that Christ’s claims are self-validating and will be rejected only by those who love evil. Whenever Christ is preached in the power of the Spirit, a judgment seat is erected and each hearer stands to be judged by his response to the message. His moral responsibility is not to a lesson in religious history but to the divine Person who now confronts him.

Christmas either means more than is popularly supposed or it means nothing.

We had better decide.

No Christmas without the Cross

fullsizeoutput_11a3The Christmas Tree is up at the Sayler house and we are preparing our home and hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth. We’ve always been very careful about how we decorate, avoiding the commercial and worldly images and themes of Christmas, and instead focusing on themes from Scripture – and this is especially noticeable on our tree.  Not quite a Chrismon Tree, all of our ornaments fall into 4 categories, Angels, Stars, Nativity Scenes, and Crosses.  Now the first three of those are readily seen in the story of Christ’s birth, but unless we keep the Cross in the story, the birth loses its meaning and purpose.  Indeed, there can be no Christmas without the Cross.

I’ve shared before from James Boice’s book The Christ of Christmas,* but I thought today I’d share just a bit from the opening chapter, The Christmas Story According to Jesus Christ. Boice finds the Christmas story according to Jesus in Hebrews 10:5-7, which is a direct quote from Psalm 40:6-8:

When Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’
Hebrews 10:5–7


What is it that our Lord emphasizes in these verses? First, that He came into the world for a purpose. That is important, for it is uniquely true of Him. It cannot be said of any other person that he or she came into the world to do something. It is often true that there are purposes parents have for their children. They hope that the child lying in a crib will grow up to do something significant in this world. If the parents are Christians, they want their child to be kept from sin and be able to serve Jesus Christ. Parents have those and other aspirations. But the child does not have them. The child has to acquire them. That is why, from a Christian perspective, the child must be taught its destiny from the pages of the Word of God.

But Jesus was different. Our Lord says that He came (and was conscious of coming) for a specific purpose. Moreover, He spells that purpose out: “I have come to do your will, O God.”

What was that will? God willed Christ to be our Savior.

I do not know why it is, be we often lose a sense of that purpose in telling the Christmas story. We focus so much on the birth of the baby and on the sentiment that goes with that story – and there is a certain amount of legitimate sentimentality that goes with it – that we miss the most important things. Actually, the story is treated quite simply in Scripture, and the emphasis is always on the fact that Jesus came to die. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, took a human body in oder that He might die for our salvation.  When our Lord speaks of His coming it is therefore highly understandable that He is thinking along those lines.

In the tenth chapter of Hebrews the author contrasts the sacrifices that took place in Israel before the coming of Christ – the sin offerings and burnt offerings, by which believers testified of their faith that God would accept them on the basis of the death of an innocent substitute – with Christ’s great and perfect sacrifice. It is in the context of that contrast, between the former things and that which has now come, between the shadow and the reality, that he brings in the quotations from Psalm 40. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world with a purpose, and that purpose was to do God’s will: to be our Savior. We miss the most important thing about Christmas if we fail to see that.

Boice, James Montgomery. The Christ of Christmas (Moody Press; Chicago, Ill. 1983)pg 14.

 

The Christmas Story – Revisited

While radio personality Garrison Keillor has had to walk away from the public spotlight due to accusations of improprieties, his legacy as a story teller extraordinaire is what will stand the test of time.  For over 40 years he produced and hosted The Prairie Home Companion radio program, and has authored several books containing his stories. His folksy, Americana, stylings in “News from Lake Wobegone,” are so relatable and picturesque that one can not help but be drawn into his narrative.  You may completely disagree with him politically (which I do), but you have to admit, he can spin a good tale.

All that being said, I thought I would share with you my transcription of his radio broadcast retelling of the Christmas Story.  I heard this years ago, and was so captivated by the way he told the familiar Biblical account of Christ’s birth, that I started typing while listening, then listened again to make sure I got it all right.  I enjoy rereading this every year, just to get a different take on the story I know so well.

I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have.  Be sure to read the account from Luke 2:1-20 and Matthew 1:18-2:18, then come back and read this retelling.

At that time there went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that a census should be taken of the whole world, or at least the world that he was familiar with, which was not nearly all of it.  It was an order that was pretty much ignored in America, for example.

But in the Holy Land it was obeyed, and people went to their hometowns to be counted for the census.  Could have been done the other way, with the government sending census takers out to count the people where they were but there’s always been a lot of governments that like to see people march to their orders and like to see people follow instructions and stand in lines and so they did it that way and everybody had to travel to their home town.

And among the Jews who traveled to their hometowns were Joseph and his wife Mary who was great with child.  And they came down out of Galilee out of the town of Nazareth, down into Judea, into the city of Bethlehem, the city of David, because Joseph was of the house of David.  And while they were there, standing in line, filling out forms, the time came for Mary to be delivered of child.  Now Joseph had tried to get them a hotel room, but the clerk said that all the rooms were booked.  And when Joseph tried to explain that his wife was great with child, the clerk said “Don’t tell me I just work here.”  And so they were living in a stable.

In all of the manger scenes that we’ve ever seen that stable is always shown as being a very clean stable, and filled with clean straw, sweet smelling straw, and I certainly hope that it was, though I doubt it.  And there, Mary brought forth her first-born son, and she laid him in a manger, which is a sort of a feeding trough.

There were animals there in the stable, there were some donkeys and a few horses, and some dairy cows, and their feed had to be put in buckets for them but they still out of habit came over to their feed trough, and they put their noses down and they smelled the baby.

Now there were, round about, shepherds tending their flocks by night, lying in the field.  Actually, they were lying around the campfire, and they were smoking, and they were telling jokes, and they were passing a bottle around.  They were kind of a motley bunch those shepherds were.  It was not a profession that educated people went into, in those days.  Kind of like parking lot attendants today.  They were not looked on with esteem by other people.  They were not considered to be high-class citizens, because sheep are not high-class animals, you know.  From a distance they may be, but not up close.  Sheep are fine if they are doing what they want to do, but as soon as you try to make a sheep do what you want it to do, I tell you, all the high-class people get out of the profession at that point, and the only people left to be shepherds are the people who don’t have anything else.

And so, they were lying there around the campfire when an Angel of the Lord suddenly appeared unto them, they were sore afraid. They fell on the ground.  They didn’t just fall on it, they hugged the ground.  They pressed their faces in the ground.  They were kind of shy people, these shepherds.

And though the Angel said, “Be not afraid,” they were terrified, they were scared out of their pants.  They hid the bottle. They thought God had come to punish them for drinking.  And they lay there whimpering, and they said “No, please, no, don’t.”

And the angel said, “Be not afraid.”  But they had never seen an angel before, they had never looked at an angel or smelled an angel or heard and angel’s voice and the angel was sort of like a human form but not exactly and the voice was kind of strange and kind of distant and the smell the angel gave off was a smell of such purity that it almost hurt their noses.  So they were terrified.

The angel said, “Be not afraid, behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be for all people that unto you is born tonight in the city of David a Savior who is called Christ the King, and this shall be a sign unto you.  You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.  And suddenly there was a heavenly host praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth among men of good will”.

Well, when suddenly the heavenly host ascended and left them, the shepherds all headed into Bethlehem to see what it was that they were talking about.  They followed the star in a way but the star was high in the sky so it gave them general direction but it wasn’t useful as far as finding one stable in one town. A street map might have been more useful, so they had to look around for it a little while.

Some of the shepherds believed what they had been told and other shepherds weren’t so sure.  They would stop townspeople as they looked around through the streets. They would tap somebody on the shoulder and say, “You didn’t see a heavenly host up in the sky just about 10–15 minutes ago off to the west, did you?”  The person said, “A what?”  They said, “Never mind.”  One shepherd said to another, “You know Bob, we were drinking a lot.”  “I emptied half of that wineskin myself.”

But they found the stable and they walked in and there was Mary, and there was Joseph, and there was the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger and instantly they all believed.  They all believed instantly, they had to ask no questions.  They knew it was all true what the angels had said.  And they tiptoed out of there, after worshiping the child and they were never to be the same people again.  They went back to shepherding, but they were never the same again.  They were filled with joy and happiness the rest of their lives.

Not that it made shepherding any easier or made the sheep any easier to handle.  Sheep were sheep, and they could get angry sometimes and they’d be sad sometimes, but life could never again be the same for them.  There was always a light in their hearts. And it would never be dark night for them again as long as they lived.

There were other things that happened.  There were three wise men who came from an eastern university.  There was an assistant Wiseman, and an associate Wiseman, and there was the chairman of the wisdom department.  And they came bringing gifts, and they worshipped the child, they believed instantly when they saw it.  Even though worship had not been the purpose of the grant, and it really was not the custom among wise men then to do very much worshipping at all, they were scholars, but they believed instantly.

And so did the innkeeper in a way.  He believed… at least he believed that an event had happened that had great publicity value for Bethlehem.  He fired the clerk, and sent a message to Joseph and Mary saying that it had been a mistake in the Telex system, that actually there were rooms and in fact there was a suit of rooms for them, and they were welcome, the whole family was welcome to come and to stay the whole weekend at no charge.  And he made plans that he would rename the hotel the La Fonte hotel and would raise his prices.  He would put up a plaque saying that the baby had been born there, and would have a gift shop in the lobby, selling holy nativity type items.  And in fact he had already placed a large order for hand carved sheep when the word came back from the stable that they were gone.  An Angel had come again to Joseph and Mary and told them that their lives were in danger, that the government was about to begin a program of massacring infant children in the hopes of killing the one child whom the government believed might overthrow it.  And so they had left, the stable was empty, just a bunch of hungry animals standing around inside, and outside on the street there was crowd of people who had come to see this, but they had gone.  If they were to find this child, they would have to find him elsewhere or in some other way.

The shepherds were the lucky ones when you come right down to it, and the wise men, cause they saw it all.  They were there, it all happened to them.  It didn’t have to be told to them by somebody else.  They didn’t have to sit down and study it and figure it out.  It was just given to them, as a gift.

Merry Christmas!

Save the Paper!!!

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you…”
(Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

This was the reminder every Christmas at Grandma Anderson’s house. Each year, as by brother and sister and I would race to the tree to divide up the presents and tear into them like a pack of hungry monkeys on a banana, the voice would boom from over head, “Save the paper!” That was usually enough to settle us down, so that we would calmly open our gifts in an orderly fashion, careful not to tear the paper unnecessarily.

Grandma grew up in the depression, so saving something like Christmas Wrapping paper made sense. She told stories of putting cardboard inside her shoes when she had worn a hole in them, of growing up on the farm and eating things like cows tongue, and heart, and – for some reason – pickled pig’s feet. Plus, the wrapping paper grandma used felt like it might have at one time been wallpaper, so it had an enduring quality to it, so it made sense to save the paper. It made sense to save the paper. She and grandpa worked hard and saved everything they could, and they had a lot to show for it. They had a beautiful house full of refurbished antiques, and the Christmases there were absolutely incredible.

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Here’s a picture of their house today. It is now a B&B. I spent a lot of my childhood here, and I think this is where my love for old homes began.

Their penchant for saving things at Christmas didn’t stop at the paper on the gifts. The tree, which itself was held together by generous amounts of wire, tape and prayer was covered by ornaments, tinsel, and a variety of decorations that had been made by my mom and my siblings and I. There was one “ornament” that looked like a glued ball of yarn that had so faded in color and lost its shape we were not really sure it was an ornament after all, but it still went on the tree. Nothing that still retained some semblance of usefulness was ever thrown out. So we would always “Save the Paper!”

Why don’t we save the paper anymore? Wrapping paper is so cheap to purchase, and so thinly made, saving it really doesn’t seem practical. It’s not worth the time and the effort to save something like wrapping paper today. And so it gets discarded after one use, shredded as the last flimsy obstacle to Christmas morning bliss, and never thought of again.

There is no intrinsic value in the paper, and yet I still hear my Grandma say, “Little E, save the paper!” So on Christmas morning, when all the presents have been opened, you’ll know where I sat, for the paper will be neatly piled and preserved, just in case you need it for the coming year.

In Deuteronomy 7, as the people of God are preparing to enter the Promised Land, the Lord gives them a reminder saying, “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him to a thousand generations” (Deut 7:6-10).

We are not the gifts in the story. We are not the tree or the decorations. We are the paper. Torn up by sin, thin and worn by abuse, cast aside by the powers of this world which seek evil; good for nothing but kindling for the fire. Yet when we were wasted by the world, still dead in our trespasses and sins, God set His love upon us in Christ (Rom 5:8). When we were lost and without hope, Christ came to save us, to deliver us, and to return us to the fold of God (Luke 15:3-7; 19:10). The cry has gone out from the beginning of creation, “Save those who are perishing,” and because of God’s love and covenant promise in Christ, we have been saved!

This Christmas, know that Christ has come for your salvation. Receive that gift and rejoice. And save the paper while your at it.

SDG

Why We Need Advent

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God an Savior Jesus Christ…” 
Titus 2:11-13

We desperately need a renewed sense of Advent. No. I don’t mean the kind of Advent that is just a countdown to Christmas. Put away your Advent Calendars; those get the whole meaning of Advent backwards. We don’t need to countdown to Christmas, or any more reminders of how many shopping days are left. The world’s got that taken care of.
If you do need help, here’s Toyboy and Santa:

I grew up with this on TV in Wichita. Toyboy was the greatest!

No, what I mean by Advent, and what was originally meant by Advent, was an expectation of the eminent return of Christ. Christmas celebrates Christ’s birth as foretold by Scripture some 2,000 years ago. Advent is the time to refocus our attention on Jesus’ return, as foretold by Scriptures as well.

Christ is coming back! Have you given that much thought today? If we aren’t watching and waiting, if our greatest hope is not the coming again of our Lord and Savior, then do we really know Him? Are we really living in Him? Are we really living for Him?

We need a renewed longing for the return of Christ.

His return is taking time, but rather than absence making the heart grow fonder, it has instead made our heart go wander. Instead of watching and waiting and being prepared for His coming, we have dug in deep roots here and have become entangled in the business and concerns of this madding world. Instead of laying up our treasures in heaven, we have amassed fortunes here on earth, and thus fight and toil to preserve and protect our dynasties from rust and moth and thief (Matthew 6:20). While we tip our hat to the promise of paradise that awaits us, we live as though this life here and now is all that really matters. We think that justice must be swift, and that we must see the results in our lifetime, or the cosmos will be out of balance for generations to come. We continue to put ourselves in the middle of the garden, where God alone belongs, and we think we are fit to reign and rule in His stead.

This is why we need a renewed sense of Advent. We need to be reminded, regularly, that Christ is returning so that we may live accordingly. Perhaps every day should begin with the question, “If Christ were coming tomorrow, what should I do today?” To live each day in faithful obedience, so that when our master returns he will find us as faithful and wise servants (Matthew 24:45-51). We need to be reminded that the treasures of this world are fading, but at God’s right hand are eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11). We need to be reminded that vengeance and justice are the Lord’s work (Rom 12:19), that the Lord comes with a sword (Isa 66:16; Rev 19:11-16), and He alone will make all things right. We need Advent, to help us lift our eyes to the heavens where we expect his return.

This is why Titus 2:11-13 so perfectly summarizes the Christian life. We begin with the grace of God that has appeared – the birth of Christ, and His life, death, and resurrection – bringing salvation for all people. This is the gospel, the beginning of new life in Christ. Then passage describes the ongoing sanctifying work of Christ in the lives of believers – the training in righteousness, renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions, learning to live self-controlled and upright lives. But then there is the arc of the story, that which is there from the beginning (Gospel) and the middle (training) and through to the very end; namely, Our Blessed Hope in the Appearing of the Glory of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. We are born again into this living hope, the watchful anticipation of His coming glory.

The last words of the book of Revelation remind us of Christ’s promise, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’” And the reply of all the faithful is, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” Until His return, may the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Go home, January! No one likes you.

“The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light…”
(Matthew 4:16)

You know, back in December, I really didn’t mind the cold and the snow all that much.  The Christmas lights at night made the snow look magical. The love and joy of the season warmed our hearts, and so the wind didn’t bother us as much.  While everyone was hectic, crazy busy, it’s all okay because everyone’s also trying to make sure their getting together with their family, friends, and all the one’s they love.  Just thinking about it now and suddenly I hear Karen Carpenter singing again, which makes me smile. Christmas made December not just tolerable, but something to love and long for.

What’s January got?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

Face it, it’s just cold, wet, and windy.  There’s no romance or sentimentality to it – it’s just one big angry polar vortex after another, freezing your nose hairs the instant you step outside.  We’re still busy, but now it just an annoyance to have to go out for one more thing.  There’s still snow on the ground, but all that means is more shoveling, slipping and sliding, and pretty soon it will turn to a brownish muck as it slowly melts away.  There’s no soundtrack to make this month and all its brutal frigidness any better.  Don’t even try. Go home, January, I think we’ve overstayed your welcome.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  Does Christmas really make that much of a difference in the way we handle things?  Well, maybe it does.

Think about it: Christmas, with all of its tinsel and trappings, is the celebration of the incarnate Word of God, Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.  At Christmas we are reminded that those who have dwelt in darkness, upon them a light has shined. At Christmas we take the time to focus on the joy that made the angels sing, the grace that came to seek and to save the lost, the love that moved even the stars in the heavens to announce his coming.

But what happened at Christmas doesn’t stay at Christmas. Christ’s coming changes everything.  We know now that sin has been defeated and by faith in Christ we are made new. We know now that there is grace and forgiveness – with God and for one another – so that we may be one body in Christ. We know now that there is good news to proclaim which will warm the hearts of all who hear.

Jesus changes everything.  He takes our burdens, our guilt, our sins, and gives us His yoke to carry and rest for our souls, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). He takes our sorrows and our griefs, and in exchange gives us the joy of a new day (Psalm 30:5). He takes the obstacles and trials that cause us to tremble and says “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I would not want to begin to imagine what life would be like without the knowledge of the love of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be worse than a December without Christmas, even worse than January.

Stay warm. Stay faithful.

Sola Deo Gloria!

He Came for You

“[The Grace of God]… which now has been manifested
through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus,
who abolished death
and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…”
(2 Timothy 1:10)

Here we are, once again, in the first week of another Advent Season. The Christmas decorations are up, the lights are shining, the music is playing, and The Christmas Story movie is undoubtedly already playing on a continuous cycle from now until the end of the month. Ah Christmas!

I’ve been especially struck by the idea of Advent this year. The word “advent” means “coming.” In the Advent Season, we celebrate Christ’s coming for our salvation, and are encouraged to remember, long for, and prepare for His glorious return. He has come, and He is coming again!

In my sermons this Advent, I’ve been asking the question, “Why Did Jesus Come?”  We’ve been looking at those verses where Jesus tells us why He came (to bring fire, to fulfill the law…).  Still, maybe a better question to ask would be, “For Whom Did Jesus Come?”

Thinking about the way Christ came to be with us, and who He came to be with – just thinking about this is staggering.

He came, from the realm of glory, to be born, meek and mild, the King of Glory enthroned in a humble manger. He came, heralded by the Heavenly Host of Angels, and was greeted by lowly, working-class shepherds. He came, full of grace and truth, teaching the wisdom of God, and He was surrounded by the blind, the sick, the poor, the outcast – all those who had been rejected by the world. He came full of righteousness and bringing the judgment of God, and was friend to sinners, the prostitutes and the tax collectors.

He came to these. He came for these. The Incarnate Word of God, Emmanuel, God with us, to seek and to save the lost.

Christ is the Lord of the universe – “by him all things were created… and in him all things hold together (Col 1:16-17) – therefore we must meet Him as He is. If we want to find Him, to know Him, to walk with Him, to be found with Him, then we need to first recognize ourselves among those for whom He came. We have to see our brokenness and our desperate need for a savior to come. We need to realize we are the blind, the sick, the poor, the sinner; we are the ones for whom He came. As long as we keep denying this truth about ourselves, then Jesus will always be coming for someone else, one of them over there. But once we realize who we are, and that we are the ones Jesus came for – then we will know Him and we will know great joy.

This is the tremendous grace and mercy that we find at Christmas, the beautiful reminder of God’s love in Advent. This is why the heavens rang out with “good news of great joy.” He has come for us. We did not deserve it, we could not earn it, but God loved us so much that He sent His Son for us. We are the ones for whom He came. He has come to be Savior to those dead in their sins, Shepherd to the lost, Healer of the sick, Light for those in darkness, Hope for those in despair, Friend of sinners.

This is the grace which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. This is the grace that comes to us in Advent. “Glory to God in the Highest!”

SDG