日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2018 No.400】Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Birth of our Savior


 by Chibana Sugako, Kyodan missionary

                                                                                                        Sakai Keishi Memorial Church

                                                                                                        Pirapo Free Methodist Church, Paraguay


Every year Christmas is celebrated around the world. Here in Paraguay, the Christmas vacation begins in mid-December. People who are working far from home use this time to return to their hometowns to celebrate Christmas and enjoy being with family. Once Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day, people light fireworks, and the greetings “Felicidades de navidad!” (Merry Christmas) can be heard.

Why is Christmas a time to celebrate? Is it because families are able to come together to see each other and celebrate their growth and safety? Of course, that is something to celebrate. However, the real reason for celebration is something else. The reason is that good news “which will bring great joy to all the people” (Luke 2:10b) was announced. That good news was the birth of our savior, the news that Jesus Christ has come from Heaven to dwell with us on earth. Therefore, at Christmas we remember this event and worship together. Christmas literally means “Christ’s Mass,” or “the worship of Christ.”

The events of that first Christmas are recorded in the Gospel of Luke. On a winter evening, angels appeared and, in an instant, a dark sky became as bright as noonday. The angels announced the joyful news of the birth of the savior. This news was first announced to poor shepherds. It seems that shepherds were looked down upon by the average Jew in those days, and generally avoided. They were poor, with no social standing. However, it was to these poor and powerless people that God first chose to share the good news of Christmas.

After the angels announced the birth of the savior to the shepherds, they told them, “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” As the surprised shepherds looked upward, a great army of angels gathered, singing “Glory to God in the highest heaven” in loud voices of praise.

So what do you think the shepherds did after they heard the chorus of angels? Did they doubt the angels, saying “There is no way that our savior will be born in the manger of a stable.” No they didn’t. They believed the angels and quickly took action. They hurried to the stable where they found Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus. With their own eyes they were able to see Christ.

After that, “The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.” (Luke 2:20) In this way, the first Christmas was presented to us by poor shepherds who dwelt at the lowest level of society. After praising the baby Jesus with great joy, they returned to their homes. But they did not keep their joy to themselves, they shared their story of Jesus’ birth with everyone they met. In other words, they were evangelists. It’s a great story, isn't it!

These shepherds did not yet know how salvation through this baby would work, but I believe that their experience had given them the conviction that this child would remember them and save them. Those of us living today know how Jesus saved us. Yes, we know that our salvation came through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Christ, through giving his life in our place on the cross, has atoned for our sins. And through his resurrection on the third day, our sins have been forgiven, and we have been given eternal life.

We are certain that Christ came to earth. And Christ has told us, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) Because the Lord is always beside us, there is no reason to fear death, nor is there a need for us to fear what the future holds for us. Rather, let us depend upon the Lord, and like the shepherds, let us praise Him as we continue our Christian journey. (Tr. JS)


ピラポ自由メソジスト 酒井兄姉記念教会




 毎年、世界各地でクリスマスが祝われます。ここパラグアイでは12月半ばからクリスマス休暇となります。出身地から遠くはなれて生活している人々は、この期間に帰省し、家族と一緒にクリスマスを祝い楽しく過ごします。クリスマスイブから日付が変わるころ、方々で花火が打ち上げられ「Felicidades de navidad!(クリスマスおめでとう)」の声も高らかに聞こえてきます。















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