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Local pastors on Christmas meaning: God came as man

Katie Smith with First Baptist Church gets a candle wick ready for the Christmas Eve service. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

Katie Smith with First Baptist Church gets a candle wick ready for the Christmas Eve service. | Andrew Garner/Atmore Advance

For local pastors, the meaning of Christmas revolves around one truth — that God came to earth in human form.

On Friday, Christians around the world will be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem.

Atmore First Baptist Church Pastor Arnold Hendrix said the meaning of Christmas means a lot of things to people all over the world, however.

“Everybody in the world knows it focuses on the baby,” Hendrix said. “For us, it’s God coming to earth in the flesh for a purpose, and that is to make a relationship available between God and man.

“Christmas is the start,” he said. “It’s God fulfilling the promise he made hundreds of years prior to take care of the sin problem.”

While Christmas may be the birth of Jesus, the holiday’s meaning can also be interpreted as one that means that God came to earth as a powerless baby to show the power of God’s love, First United Methodist Pastor Debora Bishop said.

“I think the difference in today’s world is to remember that God came as a savior for all,” Bishop said. “We need to remember that. For God so loved the world that he sent his only son. It doesn’t mean for God so loved Atmore or for a particular church in Atmore.”

Bishop added that God’s love for his creation is vast, and that he desires a relationship with all.

God’s power can be seen in many ways, she said.

“The sun comes up, there are stars in sky, the oceans roar, the waves pound and the tide ebbs and flows,” Bishop said. “All of that powerful stuff is good, but something we forget is that we are created in God’s image to love and to love each other.”

Additionally, Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby and then growing into a man puts greater significance on his death and resurrection at Easter, Bishop said.

First Presbyterian Church Pastor Jim Thorpe said while Christmas is a busy time in people’s lives, it’s important to set aside time for yourself to reflect on its meaning.

“One reason I believe there’s not more revivals in churches in the country is a lack of time of reflection, corporate prayer and a great poverty of praying together,” Thorpe said. “One thing I suggest to people is event right before you lay your head down to sleep, take 60 seconds and pray and think about things. You can do the same thing for Christmas.”

Bishop said it’s also important to reflect on God’s love toward us.

“The only important thing is understanding what it all means at the core of it,” she said.

St. Robert’s Bellarmine Catholic Church’s the Rev. Arulappan Jayaraj said the meaning of Christmas is that the divinity of God came down to dwell among us.

“We are celebrating the commemoration for the second coming of Jesus Christ,” Jayaraj said. “Christmas is three fold in that it allows joy and peace,” he said. “When we have these valleys in the heart, Jesus is born in each moment in our lives.”