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Vol. 77 - No. 12
DECEMBER 2006

WORD FROM THE PASTOR:             

"For All People"
    Not long ago, I watched a History Channel documentary on the Ku Klux Klan. The vile
racism spouted by Klan leaders back in the early 1960s, the violence perpetrated out of hatred, seemed
very far away from our world today-like something from a different planet! Thank heaven, I thought,
that we've moved beyond that.
    And yet within the next few months...a famous actor/director is arrested for drunken driving,
and unleashes a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse upon the arresting officer...an actor who was a regular
on "Seinfeld" (rated the best television show ever by TV Guide) retaliates against a comedy club
heckler with unbelievably hateful, racist language...the British comedian disguised as "Borat"
manages to get a bar full of people to join him in a chorus of’ “Throw the Jew Down the Well", and
entices a some college students into admitting that they wouldn't mind owning a slave or two.
    It seems like human equality is something we have to continually remind ourselves about,
something we can never take for granted. That God created all people, that God loves all people, that
God plays no favorites, that every person is made in God's image, that every person is precious to
God-these truths that seem so "self-evident" are easily eclipsed by prejudice and hatred.
    December is the month when human brotherhood and "peace on earth" are most on our minds.
And that's appropriate-for the Christmas story itself proclaims to us that God loves all people, that
all people are equal in His eyes. Think, for instance, of what the angel says to the shepherds when
announcing the birth of Jesus: "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
(Luke 2:10). To all people. This child's birth is something that happens for the whole world. For all
races of people, all classes of people. No one is excluded! Jesus came for the whole world.
    The Christmas story also tells us that the birth of Jesus happened during a great census-"A
decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled." (Luke 2:1). All the
world
-the vast Roman Empire, which included much of the known world, was to be counted. By
reminding us that Christ was born during this universal event, the Bible is telling us that Christ's
significance is universal-His birth is for all people.
    The coming of the Wise Men, too, shows us that in Christ God extends His love to all people.
We don't know exactly where the Wise Men came from-perhaps Persia, perhaps Babylon--but it was
from far away, most likely from somewhere outside the Roman Empire. By summoning them to
worship Christ and to believe in Christ, God is indicating that His love extends to everyone. There
is an old tradition in Christian art to depict the three Wise Men with various ethnicities-one African,
one Asian, one Caucasian. This is historically far-fetched, but it makes a profound spiritual point-that
people of all backgrounds are loved by God, that Christ came for all.
    This universality was indicated almost two thousand years before Jesus was born-when God
called Abraham to belong to Him in a special relationship. Abraham was an ancestor of Jesus-and
God told Abraham, "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:3) That is a
prophecy of Christ's coming-that Abraham' s descendant Jesus would bring blessing to the world.
To all peoples on earth. Jesus came for everyone..
    In becoming human in Christ, God identifies Himself with every human being. Indeed, He
was born as a first-century Jewish male-but in becoming human, He touches every human, whatever
their race, whatever their gender, whatever their nation. Jesus is sometimes called "the Second
Adam"-He is the One who came to undo the mess that the first Adam got us into. And just as the first
Adam is connected to every human being who ever lived, so is the Second Adam. Jesus has become
the brother of us all!
    When people make pictures of Jesus, they tend to depict him in their own image, in their own
culture. When an African artist paints Jesus, He looks African; when a Japanese artist renders Jesus,
He looks Japanese; when a German artist envisions Jesus, He looks German. Again, this is
questionable as history, but wonderful as spirituality. In being born a human, Jesus identifies with
Africans and Japanese and Germans and everyone else in the world. Perry Como recorded a beautiful
Christmas song with these lyrics:

Some children see Him lily-white, the infant Jesus born this night
            With tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
            With dark and heavy hair
Some children see Him almond eyed
            With skin of yellow hue
Some children see Him dark as they
            And how they love Him so!
The children in each different place will see the baby Jesus' face
            Like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace
And filled with holy light.

    The birth of God in the flesh means that He is inviting all people to believe in Him and belong
to Him. This is the ultimate antidote to racism-remembering that this good news, these glad tidings,
are for all people!
    God loves you and so do I!

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