Anaheim Seventh-day Adventist Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
December 1st, 2021
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
I hope you and your families had a blessed Thanksgiving. I apologize for not getting last week’s mid-week update out – I caught a stomach-bug mid-week and was on my back for a couple of days! Even missed Thanksgiving day with my extended family. 😦 But, I was feeling somewhat stronger by the weekend, and am back to 100 percent now. 🙂
With Thanksgiving now in the rear-view mirror, it means we’re officially into the Christmas season. I tell you: I feel ready for it this year! I know it’s easy for people to be cynical, grumbling along the lines of “Christmas isn’t the right time of year, much less the precise date that Jesus was born!”, or “It’s too commercialized and secularized: it’s lost all valid meaning”, or even “roots of so many of Christmas’ trappings are pagan – the holiday is corrupted and should be jettisoned.” While all of these arguments have some truth to them, let me make an argument for the other side of the debate here.
Something moving happened to me earlier this week. Often, when I’m driving, I listen to news as I go around doing my errands – and when commercials come on, I flip through a few music stations to see if they’re playing anything I like. Well this Monday, I turned away from my usual news to a local FM station out of L.A., and heard they were playing Christmas music. But it wasn’t just generic “Jingle-bell-y” Christmas music, it was sacred Christmas music. I believe it was “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, and that it was the part that says “Mild He lays His glory by – Born that man no more may die – Born to raise the sons of Earth – Born to give them second birth – Hark! The Herald angels sing – Glory to the New-born King!” And I was just so thankful that the Gospel message was getting a hearing on a popular radio station that, at no other time of the year would come within 10 meters of broadcasting anything Christian. And I thought “How many generally secular people are going to hear lyrics like these and ponder them, and give Jesus a chance in their hearts this Christmas season? Perhaps they’ll go to their Bibles and read the birth story, and then onward into the ‘heart’ of the Gospels.”
And then, later that same day, I saw a headline on the OC Register website, that said that Sterling K. Brown (the adopted brother from the “This Is Us” show on NBC), is going to be doing the Nativity Story readings in Disneyland’s Christmas Candlelight procession program. And I thought again: praise the Lord that, again, a secular news source is reporting that an A-list actor (assumedly a Christian who isn’t ashamed to be open about it) will be reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, at a top-notch, secular, premium entertainment environment.
I obviously want our local church to be a beacon of light to our community (Matthew 5:14-16), but there is no way any local church (no matter how big) could buy ‘publicity’ like this. I for one am so glad that, even occasionally, the Good News of God loving us and choosing to send / come draw close to us, gets notice in our society. Despite all of the Christmas season’s faults, there is a kernel at the center that is beautiful and pure. That’s not too different to how God looked at the world when considering to send Jesus: full of corruption, but at humanity’s heart, there was still a core that was loveable & redeemable.
So I hope you can find some joy hearing Christian messages (often put to lovely music) in department stores, in public venues, on TV & radio, etc. I pray we would all feel that Christ is ours, not because of our worthiness, but because of His great love & willingness to condescend.
Love to you & your families throughout the remainder of this week & beyond.
Pastor Mark Tatum