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Christmas in a difficult time

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Gertude Nation is pastor of the Grace United Methodist Church in Valley Stream.

Today, over 2,000 years, the feelings of awe and wonder that echo throughout the first Christmas is still present. However, the Christmas celebration will be different this year because of the many unexpected events: Covid-19, political unrest, and racial injustice. 

There will be empty seats at the dining table for many families this Christmas. Many people have lost their jobs and are challenged in the areas of the necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing.  How do we prepare to celebrate this Christmas? Maybe, this is the year we will focus more on the real meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is the celebration of a miracle, the birth of God’s son, Jesus. A miracle is defined as a visible interruption of the laws of nature, understood only by divine intervention and often accompanied by a miracle worker. 

Throughout scripture, we read many stories of miracles. God chose ordinary, unqualified people to do miracles: the ineloquent Moses, the youngest child David, and the barren Elizabeth and Mary—a young, poor, unmarried virgin to give birth to God’s son, Jesus.

Many people find it hard to believe the miracle of Jesus’ birth. The Gospel writers in the New Testament recorded the birth narratives of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke was written by Luke, a medical doctor. Luke knew about how babies are made. He was a detailed researcher who based his Gospel on eyewitness accounts including Mary’s experience. These facts can help our faith to believe this miracle. Therefore, Christians and Jews, who worship God as creator of the universe, should believe that God has the power to create a child in a virgin’s womb.    

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, who was born not only to die sacrificially for us, but also to show us how to live sacrificially. The idea of making a sacrifice is uncomfortable to most of us. However, this Christmas that is exactly what we are called to do.