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Pastors: Christmas meaning is a celebration

Christmas is a celebration, local pastors said.

Today, Christians and families around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus and just being around loved ones.

First Baptist Church Pastor Kevin Garrett said Christmas brings a lot of memories.

“One way we celebrate is through those memories,” Garrett said. “Right now, try using your imagination to smell the freshly-cut tree, the fireplace, the food and the candles.

“Let your mind and heart take you back to the sweet sounds of grandparents and children laughing, and enjoying the day, eagerly anticipating the opening of the gifts they carefully chose to express their love to one another,” he said.

Garrett said with these memories, Christians also celebrate Christmas.

“We celebrate the expectancy and delivery of the gift the Heavenly Father lovingly gave the people of this world,” he said. “In a time when sacrifices were repeatedly having to be given for personal transgressions against God’s law, a Savior, Christ the King, was wrapped in flesh, cloth and a feeding trough.

“God delivered freedom through a baby,” he said. “His delivery was expensive because this baby, God’s Son, is the ultimate sacrifice to pay for sinning against God. He delivers freedom from the penalty of sin and provides his inheritance of eternity to all who sincerely believe this truth and follow him.”

First United Methodist Church Pastor Andy Gartman said the celebration takes many different expressions throughout the world.

“Some of those do better at keeping the focus on Jesus than others,” Gartman said. “Here in the United States, the church seems to struggle with the yearly onslaught of commercialism that begins earlier and earlier with its focus on shopping and buying gifts. Giving gifts for Christmas is a tradition that comes from the gifts given to the child Jesus by the Magi. It’s a wonderful tradition.

“The difficulty the church seems to struggle with comes when the buying and giving of gifts become more important than the one who was given those gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh so long ago,” he said. “I, too, give Christmas gifts to family and friends. It reminds me to be like the Magi who gave their gifts and their homage to Jesus. I hope we all do the same.”