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The Heart of Christmas

by Pastor Kari Bahe
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…God’s love has been poured into our hearts…
Romans 5:5

As Christmas approaches, we will no doubt hear the phrase:

Keep Christ in Christmas.

Frankly, it is one of my least favorite sayings. I confess to you that it makes me want to shout in my best Ebenezer Scrooge voice:

What do you mean, keep Christ in Christmas?

No one can take Christ out of Christmas!

No. One. Without Christ, there is no Christmas.

Christ is the very heart of Christmas. God has chosen to stoop down to find us wherever we are. For some, Christmas brings deep joy and happiness, for some it brings loneliness and sadness, and for still others, it is a mixture of both. The good news is that even in the deepest corners of our fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness God meets us. In Christ, God has chosen to be in even the empty corners of our hearts. To fill us with hope, grace, and forgiveness. We live in that good news because of Christ Jesus. No one can take that out of Christmas. It is, frankly, the heart of the matter!

The “Heart of Christmas” is our focus this Advent and Christmas season. There are two meanings in the “heart of Christmas,” of course. One being the very center of Christmas. The second being the state of our hearts year-round, as in we should have “hearts of Christmas” every day of the year.

Scripture has much to say about our hearts. In the Bible, the heart is used to express the deepest part of our being. It includes our body and soul. It is clear in Scripture that God directs—no commands—us to take care in matters of the heart. Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also [Matthew 6:21]. Notice what comes first in Jesus’ words: where our treasure is our heart follows, not the other way around. Jesus did not say where our heart is, so will our treasure be. Which is usually how this passage is misquoted. The order is important because Jesus knows that what we treasure quickly becomes the heart of the matter in our lives.

We will ask together, “what do we treasure?” We will ask it individually as well as collectively. Treasure is anything we value above all else and that which motivates us to action.

Along with concentrating on the treasure of our hearts, we will look at the promises of God’s heart as well. We will study scripture, sing songs, see little ones retell the Christmas story, and find ourselves rooted and grounded in the truth that God has a heart for us. That is a bold claim!

God has a heart for you; that is what is at the heart of Christmas. The creator of all that is, seen and unseen, has a heart for you. I can’t think of a better gift than living a life knowing for certain that God has a heart for you—except the gift of sharing that truth with others. That’s what happens here at Zion; we find ways to live in that sure and certain truth. We find ways of telling it to each other, to the stranger, and to ourselves in our ministry together.

How does it feel to know that God’s love is poured into your heart? In Christmas, God has made that message clear. God comes in the most unassuming way, as a baby — vulnerable and needy — in the dark and dirt of the stable. Jesus was born amid upheaval in a time of historical change, to people who seemed powerless and without hope. Advent proclaims to us that God chooses to bring us hope in times of uncertainty, peace in times of upheaval, joy in times of despair, and love in all times.

Advent teaches us that because God is with us, we have hope, peace, joy, and love. Not just the words… but true hope, peace, joy, and love… because God’s love is poured into our hearts abundantly. Because of that love, we are given the opportunity to have the heart of Christmas year-round. And in a wonderful circle of love…that is the heart of Christmas.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched— they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

Pastor Kari Bahe

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