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If you could change one thing about our current American Christmas, what would it be?

  • Published Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at 12 a.m.

It’s about Christ

The Rev. Scott Gordon, Claycomo Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yes, but what is it?

It’s the holiday season.

OK … but I’m not sure what you mean. What holiday are we talking about?

Christmas is what I’m talking about.

I see. Why didn’t you just say that?

Many years ago a group of people seeking to celebrate a monumental occasion found a time of year in which to establish a significant remembrance. They were celebrating the birth of someone whose life had that once-in-an-eternity kind of impact. The time of year they chose also served as host to celebrations established by others; so, to clearly identify their own, they named theirs Christ’s Mass … Christmas.

Those early establishers of the Christmas holiday made no effort to deny others their celebrations, focusing instead on sharing with others the “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10b-11). This is the essence of Christmas.

In this historic light, I believe we see the significance of this timeless definition of Christmas as the celebration focusing on the birth of Jesus Christ. One born to die on a cross and through his resurrection redeem repentant sinners from God’s wrath and judgment. Christmas announces the glorious hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – “Joy to the World! The Lord is come!”

Sadly, Christmas is disappearing from our American celebration during this time of year. I pray this will change.

Sharing our words

The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church UCC, Kansas City:

Is world peace too much to ask for?

If that’s off the table, then I’d turn to the “Christmas” story in the Gospel of John. There is no baby Jesus asleep on the hay. Instead, there is the birth of a word. “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God …”

That’s what I’d like to see at Christmas: families and friends wrapping up their words and sharing them with one another.

Like the young couple planning a wedding. They looked across the table at each other. I’d given instructions for an exercise on assertiveness and active listening.

With some halting hesitation, they shared what they’d like: I would like to take a walk when we come home from work; I’d like for you to turn the TV off when I’m telling you something important 

Watching them struggle to share brought back a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. When talks break down, relationships are stunted, even scarred.

Whether it’s a couple at a kitchen table or countries engaged in peace talks – giving and receiving words takes risk and vulnerability.

What I’d like to see at Christmas? A day for sharing longings and hopes; how simple and similar they always turn out to be.

And, who knows if it wouldn’t bring some world peace.

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