歷久彌新的耶誕節

By:Robert J. Tamasy

這個星期開始,耶誕氣氛開始濃厚起來了。每個地方的人對耶誕節的定義不同,有些人認為耶誕節是耶穌基督誕生的日子(雖然祂真正誕生的日子有不同的說法)。對今天的商場來說,耶誕節則代表獲利或是損失(尤其是零售業),員工的分紅、新的一年的開端或我們是否能真心祝福顧客耶誕快樂。

事實是,對我們來說耶誕節有它的傳統。如果把耶穌基督排除耶誕節之外,耶誕節就失去了它的意義。也許一些商人還會改變其他的節日來增加銷售數字,但是耶誕節沒有耶穌、馬利亞、約瑟、牧羊人和天使就是空殼。耶誕歌曲我們都耳熟能詳,耶誕裝飾也反映出這個節日的傳統。

有上千的書、上百萬的講道以及無數的電視節目和電影,以耶誕節為主題。就像是所羅門王在傳道書1章9節所說的:「…日光之下並無新事。」耶穌誕生在二千多年前,但祂誕生的故事仍然歷久彌新。

耶穌誕生的故事不只是在古老中東一個溫馨家庭的故事。約翰福音提到耶穌誕生的重要性:「 道成了肉身,住在我們中間,充充滿滿地有恩典有真理。我們也見過他的榮光,正是父獨生子的榮光。」(約翰福音1章14節)

在約翰福音1章1節提到:「太初有道,道與上帝同在,道就是上帝。」耶誕節是我們慶祝耶穌基督誕生的日子,也是神來到地上與我們同住的日子。祂來教我們如何在地上生活,以及透過祂的死我們可以經歷新的生命。「我來了,是要叫羊( – 或譯:人)得生命,並且得的更豐盛。」(約翰福音10章10節)

今天我們聽到人們無止盡地爭論說:「真理是什麼?」當耶穌基督在世上的時候,祂大膽地宣告真理是永恆的,無論有多少選擇或是偏好,真理是無可妥協的。耶穌說:「我就是道路、真理、生命;若不藉皀我,沒有人能到父那裏去。」(約翰福音14章6節)

聖經裡面還有兩處經節,告訴我們耶誕節的終極禮物是耶穌基督帶來生命-「因為世人都犯了罪,虧缺了上帝的榮耀;」(羅馬書3章23節)。「因為罪的工價乃是死;惟有上帝的恩賜,在我們的主基督耶穌裏,乃是永生。」(羅馬書6章23節)

因此,當我們開心地交換禮物、吃耶誕大餐以及享受和家人朋友的美好時光時,仍然不要忘記耶誕節的真正意義以及耶誕節帶給我們的影響。

勞勃.泰默西是領袖資產協會的傳播部副部長,這是一個總部在美國喬治亞州亞特蘭大的非營利組織。

省思/討論題目
如果有人問你:「在你看來,耶誕節真正的意義是什麼?」你會如何回答? 對於耶誕節商業化,你有什麼看法?這是恰當的嗎,或是有點過頭了?對商場和職場上的人來說,屬靈的慶祝和商業的活動是否應該有區別?分享你的答案。 分享你印象最深的耶誕節。當時的經驗如何影響你對耶誕節的感覺和慶祝耶誕節的態度? 上面提到的聖經經文,不像是傳統會提到的耶誕故事經文。你覺得這些經文對你有什麼意義?備註: 如果你手上有聖經,想要閱讀更多跟這個主題相關的經文,請參考:馬太福音 1章18-25節;路加福音 2章1-20節;羅馬書 5章8節;以弗所書2章8-9節;提多書 3章5節

AN OLD HOLIDAY THAT IS ALWAYS NEW
By Robert J. Tamasy

This is the week we again turn thoughts to “Christmas,” whatever that happens to mean for each of us. For many around the world, it means the commemoration of the birthday of Jesus Christ, even though the actual date of His birth is hidden in historical obscurity. For today”s business and professional world, however, Christmas means the difference between profit and loss (especially if you are in retail); the evaluation of bonuses for employees; the culmination of another fiscal year; and even determining whether “Merry Christmas” is an appropriate greeting for customers in our politically correct culture.

In reality, even though the holiday has taken on a secular life with traditions of its own, to extract Jesus Christ from Christmas is to render the day meaningless. Perhaps marketplace geniuses would have devised another special occasion to promote consumerism, but Christmas is an empty shell without the reflections on the Christ child, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, sheep and angels; Christmas carols both familiar and new; Christmas recipes and decorations, reflecting a wondrous annual celebration.

With the housands of books written, millions of sermons delivered, and countless TV programs and movies based on Christmas, it seems, as King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun” when it comes to discussing this unique event we call Christmas. Yet, despite being a story that is many centuries old, it also is forever new.

It is much more than a warmhearted story about a young family gathered in a crude Middle Eastern stable. The magnitude of this event is captured in the gospel of John: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Earlier the passage explains who “the Word” is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Jesus Christ, the one whose birthday we celebrate, was – and is – the Word who came to earth to dwell with mankind, not only to teach and model how to live, but also to die so that through Him we might experience true life: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), or as another translation phrases it, “have it abundantly.”

Today we hear endless debates about “truth”: “What is truth?” “What is your truth?” During His time on earth, Jesus boldly declared that truth – eternal truth – is non-negotiable, not a matter of preference or multiple choice. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Two passages from another part of the Bible explain how understanding of the ultimate Christmas gift came about. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” declaring mankind has a problem. The Scriptures call it “sin,” brokenness that separates us from God. But in Jesus Christ, God has provided the solution: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

So I hope, as we delight in exchanging gifts, indulge in hearty holiday meals, and enjoy times with family and friends, we will not neglect to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas – and its impact for us all.

© 2015. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
If someone were to ask you, “What is the meaning of Christmas, in your opinion?” how would you respond? What are your thoughts about the commercialization of Christmas? Is it appropriate; has it gone overboard; or should the spiritual celebration and the marketplace observances necessarily be kept separate? Explain your answer. Describe your most vivid Christmas memory. How has it influenced your feelings and attitude toward celebrating Christmas? The Bible passages cited are not ones that are traditionally associated with the Christmas story. What do they say to you?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5

Show More