Keeping in mind the gifts that Jesus Christ gave to the world is the key to keeping the right perspective at Christmastime.
These were the sentiments of some area Christian church leaders who were asked how to help those who are frustrated with the commercialism and other stresses of the season.
“We have to remember that it’s His birthday, not ours,” said the Rev. Vanessa Cato of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden. “It’s about keeping the focus on Jesus.”
She said members of her church encourage families to light candles, marking the time until Christmas, so they don’t lose sight of what is at the center of the season.
“It’s about developing a loving relationship, a loving place in your house, doing things together,” she said. “It’s important to make time together holy. Being safe together is far more important than the gifts. … The gifts we give are because God gave us a special gift in the Lord Jesus.”
“Christmas really ultimately is about God giving a gift to humanity and Jesus coming,” said Pastor Brian Sauve of the Refuge Church of Riverdale, which is a nondenominational church affiliated with Calvary Chapel Fellowship. “The cool thing about that gift is it answers all those questions.”
Sauve was speaking about the questions that keep people from enjoying the holidays, such as how to navigate through relationship problems, financial problems and sadness.
He said Christ understands family drama.
“Jesus’ family at one time thought he was crazy growing up,” Sauve said, listing numerous other struggles Christ went through during his earthly ministry, including being betrayed by Judas, who had worked and lived so closely to Christ during his ministry.
“Jesus went through all of that so He could be a high priest that identifies with people,” he said. “Jesus is the answer to all things that are issues that come to the surface this time of year.”
“We cannot keep the right spirit of Christmas apart from the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Pastor Dave Mallinak of Berean Baptist Church of Ogden. “Christ is the center of everything.”
Mallinak said the name Emanuel means “God with us.”
“Jesus Christ is God in human flesh,” he said, explaining that He came to earth to reconcile man.
“We can celebrate that reconciliation of God and man,” he said.
Mallinak said a lot of people look at Christmas and they remember the smells, the chocolate and fudge and the music, thinking that the feeling of Christmas will set things right in their lives.
But, he said, “We can’t look at the season to be our savior,” he said. “God is our Savior. We have to look to Him.”
Mallinak recognized that people get caught up or turned off by the materialism of the season.
But he said materialism is something to think about when developing one’s perspective.
“God gave us a material gift in material form,” he said. “We celebrate in a material world and we celebrate that Jesus came in material form, with a body.”
Mallinak said if people keep their foundation in Christ, then they are free to enjoy everything available to enjoy this time of year.
“The material things, the feelings, we can enjoy it all if we keep Christ as the foundation,” he said.