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Local pastors: Christmas is God’s gift to all

In two days time, Christians around the world will celebrate the start of Christmas.

Local pastors said this week that Christmas is God’s gift for all of us.

Christmas Day is significant for Christians because it is the day Jesus Christ as born.

“Christmas is God coming to us, through the Incarnation, to meet us where we are – in our brokenness and sinfulness – in order to take where He is into the embrace of divine love,” St. Robert’s Bellarmine Catholic Church’s Fr. Frank Sofie said.

First Baptist Church Pastor Dr. Kevin Garrett said this year, more than ever, all have an opportunity to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

“While our memories center around extended family and large gatherings, the focus is smaller this year,” Garrett said. “The truth of the celebration is that God chose to come to earth and provide a way for us to have our trespasses against Him forgiven. He chose to do this though the gift of Himself, coming as one of us, being fully God and fully man as Jesus.”

Sofie said in the early church, one of the images that emerged is that the incarnation is kind of a marriage between divinity and humanity.

“This lead many to describe Mary’s womb as ‘the bridal chamber,’” he said. “One of the earliest descriptions of who Jesus is by St. John the Baptist is that Jesus is the bridegroom.

“And when we consider what marriage is, we see it as an apt metaphor to describe the purpose of the incarnation,” he said.

Sofie added that in marriage, the bridegroom says to the bride, “all that I have and all that I am, I give to you, my beloved.”

Sofie added that marriage itself represents the gift of self donation.

“Jesus gives us, His bride, the Church, all that He has and all that He is, first in the incarnation, but even more intimately in the Holy Eucharist, which is called ‘the wedding feast of the Lamb of God,’” he said. “In the Eucharist, we receive all that Jesus is: His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. As the bridegroom, He gives Himself away in an act of perfect self-giving, life-giving, love.”

Sofie said this incarnation is foreshadowed at Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

“The very name of Bethlehem means ‘House of Bread,’” Sofie said. “The baby is placed in a manger, a feeding trough. When these two facts are seen side-by-side, we get a glimpse of how the incarnate son of God will give Himself to us: under the appearance of bread, bread that came down from heaven, bread that is transformed (transubstantiated) into the bridegroom, not as a symbol but in the reality of his person.”

Garrett said Jesus lived a perfect life, and took our sings as his very own.

“Those who receive this gift are seen by God as spotless and will spend an eternity in God’s perfect presence with no need, want or desire,” he said. “We will spend eternity in Heaven.”