We have, "Reality shows," for just about everything in our culture today. But, reality by definition isn't edited. These are just entertainment shows that are edited and fashioned and planned and programmed to try to entice viewers to watch the show.
Where has reality gone? Who says we have to line up with the politically correct programmers of this world? Each year for about six weeks the world is forced to answer the question, "What is Christmas really about," and, "is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God."
Christmas without a doubt, is a Christian holiday, or holy day. We celebrate the birth of the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ, and we make no apologies about it. I am not ashamed of being a Christian or declaring that I am celebrating the Virgin birth of the Son of God. Although I am considered a protestant by Catholic brothers and sisters, I thank the Catholic Church for starting a celebration of the birth of Christ, that we now call Christmas.
It started out as a Christ Mass, and somewhere along the line the retailers of the world have capitalized on it to make it more worldly than spiritual. But I resolve to celebrate the Reality of Christmas, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. Not only His miraculous Virgin birth, but His incredible life, death and resurrection. John 3:16 is reality!
I was brought up in the New Cumberland Free Methodist Church and asked Jesus Christ into my life at 13 and fell away, and again at 17 and fell away. I was a teen pregnancy statistic and was married at age 17, a father at age 18, my young wife divorced me at age 19 and I attempted suicide at age 19. I was a pretty good kid who made some poor choices and lost my way. But, Jesus found me when I was 21. He sent some people to show me Jesus again. At age 21 I experienced Jesus in a personal way I had never known him before, because I gave him my whole heart. It was 11 days after Christmas, on January 5, 1980, at 11:30 p.m. in New Cumberland, two blocks from the little church I grew up in. There were no songs being sung, or sermons being preached. Just a man and woman in their early 30s who looked me in the eye and asked me if I knew Jesus.
God changed my life 33 years ago, and called me to preach His word and pastor His people. It has been 33 years of learning and growing and being healed and helping get others saved and healed and living out their destinies as children of God.
I didn't find religion that night. What I mean is, I didn't meet a man with a set of rules to follow. I met Jesus Christ that night. I realized the two great commandments, to love God with all my mind, heart, soul and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. He accepted me just the way I was, and He loved me anyway. He forgave my sins, and called me to follow Him. I've been doing my best to follow Him for 33 years. And I love my life. I couldn't always say that. I'm not perfect. My wife isn't perfect. My children aren't perfect. But, my God and Savior Jesus Christ is, and I'm just going to keep following Him. He knows the way home.
The Reality is: We live in a world that is sinful. There is a God who loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son, to deliver us from sin and adopt us into His family, and to model the life that God had designed for us all this time. Reality is: People in Newtown, Conn. are burying their little children at Christmas because sin is full grown in America and around the world. We need a personal relationship with God, through His Son Jesus, more than ever before.
Reality is: Whether you're rich or poor, single, married or divorced. Whether you're working or looking for work, happy or depressed, grieving the loss of a loved one or celebrating the birth of a child, we all need God's love and a supernatural faith to sustain in this world. May God deliver you from drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, pride, jealousy, envy or whatever is holding you down, in Jesus' name.
I hope you discover this Christmas what I discovered 33 years ago at the age of 21, when my life was a mess, and God turned my mess into a message of hope to other sinners who need a savior. I'm not a sinner any longer. I'm a child of God who sometimes sins, and gets forgiven and tries even harder to do my best. I'm getting better at it after all these years.
I hope you get Jesus for Christmas this year! And, I hope the people in Newtown, Conn., and in Oregon get Hope and Healing and Peace, and that God will wrap His arms of Love around them and hold them and comfort them and take away the pain and fear.
I hope you have a Jesus-filled Christmas, and God bless!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)