Gary Gilbert

Gary Gilbert reacts to being surprised with a volunteer award at the Mitchell County Food Bank.

STEVEN THOMPSON THE PRESS-NEWS

We call it Christmas. The incarnation. The day God became a man.

Imagine the incredible moment when Jesus left His proper place in heaven and went with all His love into the womb of a young girl, named Mary, and the angels clapped their hands for joy! The One we celebrate was given two names at His birth, Jesus and Emmanuel ( Matthew 1:21, 23). Jesus means “God saves” while Emmanuel means “God is with us”. The message of Christmas is that through Christ, God saves us from sin and death and comes to be with us.

Everything changed when Jesus entered our world. The power of sin would soon be broken, and Satan’s plans would be crushed. God’s grace had been born into our world – a power so great nothing could prevail against it.

Today, the sinful momentum of our world continues, making everything seem as it was before Jesus came. But a new kingdom has been established. And by faith we live in the long shadow of that promise. At Christmas the shadow seems to lift for a moment and we seem so much closer to that day. With its celebration, joy, excitement, warmth, and holiness, Christmas reminds us that although many wonderful promises have been fulfilled in our midst, we are still waiting for the last, eternal, Christmas morning – the one that will last forever.

When God decides that it is time, Christ will come again! This is the message of Advent. It is for us to be alert, vigilant and industrious, so that His coming will not be a terror but an overwhelming act of joy.

Part of the real Christmas spirit is the hope it inspires in us of the day when Jesus will come again, no longer the baby in the manger, but the Lord of all the earth. That is the ultimate fulfillment of all that Christmas promises. The Babe from Bethlehem will revisit the planet He once called home. But this time He will not come in humility; He will come in power. Death will be overcome forever, replaced by eternal life. Old things will pass away; behold, new things will come.

Lies will be replaced with truth, and injustice will become extinct. Sadness, pain, regret, loss, failure, and tears will pass away, never to return. And those of us who spent so many years celebrating Christmas in the firm belief that one day faith would become sight will wake to that eternal morning. Until then, in each celebration of Christmas we are turning the lights on in anticipation of that final morning. Are you ready for His return?

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