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2017 - The Meaning of Christmas
News for 12.12.17
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The most central event in all of history is the birth of Jesus Christ. All previous ages looked forward to it, and all subsequent history gains meaning from it. Yet the exact date of Jesus’ birth is unknown.

Because of widespread persecution Christians did not celebrate the birth of Jesus until the 4th century when three events changed how Christians were treated. First, Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 A.D. The next year he made it the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Second, the Emperor built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,over the cave thought to be the site of Jesus’ birth. Finally, a few years later Julius I the Bishop of Rome officially declared that the birth date of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25th . After these events Christmas became a time of joyous anticipation.

Later as Christianity spread throughout Europe, many of the pagan customs of the wintersolstice were absorbed into the birthday celebrations of Jesus. To keep Jesus central, Church leaders in the sixth century set aside four weeks before to Christmas for believers to contemplate what the coming of the Messiah meant, not only to the world, but to every soul. They called it Advent.

Advent is a Latin Word meaning “the coming.” As we count down the days, our Christmas celebrations and messages will focus on Jesus – the One announced by angels to be called the Son of the Most High.

Our Advent preaching theme this year is: The Lamb of God. During the four Sundays of Advent we will examine the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation in search of the greatest gift ever given - the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)