Sharing hope of Christmas
December 24, 2020
By TOM LAVENTURE
Ironwood - Although perhaps shared virtually in these challenging times the message of Christmas is no less powerful and transforming, according to area pastors who reflected on the celebration of the reason for the season.
Rev. Donald Nickolson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hurley said Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus. "For many of us news of this event is familiar and traditional. It may not feel new or startling. It may even seem like ancient history. After all, peace on earth feels more distant from our day than near at hand.
"But the angel's words for this message from confinement to the past "to you is born this day," the savior's birth is not just historic, it is for each one of us reading and hearing this news right now. And although first spoken long ago, the promises for us this day are no less than for then. Whatever you think about Christ's birth, the angel reminds each of us that it is truly for us and calls us to respond today."
He offered a prayer: "Oh Christ our Lord, let us receive you as God's gift this day."
Rev. Mark Ortman, pastor of Assembly of God Church in Ironwood, called Christmas "the time when God manifested his love by sending his son Jesus into this world to die on the cross so the power of sin could be broken in any person placing their faith exclusively in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross. He took our place, to pay for our sin, so that we by faith, and faith alone, might become heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ. Jesus is the only way to heaven, for he alone said, 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father, except by Me.' (John 14:6).
"May you have a Christ filled Christmas filled with his peace, hope and joy."
Rev. Nicole Hanson-Lynn, pastor of Zion and Salem Lutheran Churches in Ironwood, said as we hear the Christmas story, the familiar words are comforting for many of us.
"Hearing these same words ... in previous years, celebrating the same rituals and traditions ... there's so much comfort in the celebrations and the familiar. But for Mary and Joseph, there's more reason to fear.
"The Bible describes them as vulnerable; their neighbors didn't get to see an angel delivering the good news, and after the magi have visited from a foreign land, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus will become refugees. This year, as all of our traditions have to change for a year, may we remember how different the first Noel was.
"May we remember Mary and Joseph's faithfulness and trust in the midst of a world being turned upside down. May we remember God With Us when everything seems different. And may the peace of Christ that passes all understanding be with you during this 'upside down' Christmas."
Rev. Domonic Agyapong, pastor of the Tri-Catholic Parishes of Gogebic County - St. Catherine in Marenisco; Immaculate Conception in Wakefield, and St. Sebastian in Bessemer - said Christmas has been the most celebrated religious feast globally in the history of the world.
"It is a time of joy, reconciliation, and preparedness for Christ's Nativity and Parousia. It is a time families, friends, neighbors, and parishioners share gifts and love in the unique way.
"I want to share with you the word "hail" as it is in the salutation of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. Hail is like hello or hi in today's normal way of greeting someone. Christmas is an opportune time to say hail or hello to people we have not heard from or spoken to for many years.
"Celebrating Christmas in this pandemic, let us be kind and thoughtful to express our "hail" to all people through telephone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook posts, cards, etc. Merry Christmas and Healthy New Year to everyone."