聖誕的意義──在「道」中

幾乎沒有別的主題像聖誕一樣被那麼多話語及文字討論。每年這個時候,每個人,從政治領袖到脫口秀主持人,都會對「聖誕的意義」發表他們的意見。甚至在其他宗教的領袖和神職人員中,我們也驚訝地發現,對於這個世界上許多地方都慶祝之節日的重要性有非常多樣的評論。

當然,對許多零售商而言,聖誕節意味著金錢。那代表著「賺錢或破產」,因為他們年收入的一大部份都來自這買禮物的季節。對郵件和包裹運送服務業,這也是收入增加的季節。對許多產業而言,這個時間是準備進入下個年度前評估這一年度表現的時候。

在娛樂界的這個時刻,我們看到新的影片放映,各式各樣的聖誕音樂,電視為聖誕主題做了相關的特別節目,廣播電台也播放大家喜愛的聖誕節目。交通業從航空、火車到租車業都準備迎戰每年一度的聖誕返鄉潮。而食物業也在把注意力轉到傳統聖誕美食的時刻找到「意義」。

我還可以列出更多行業,但它們都不能提供聖誕的真正意義。社會評論家用「善意」、「兄弟之愛」和「施予」作為聖誕的意義。然而,聖經是描述第一個聖誕的書,它說聖誕的意義就在於一個字--「道」。保羅.布蘭德博士與菲力普.楊西共同寫了一本書「照祂的形象」。書中描述在兩千多年前,當耶穌進入時間裡成為人的樣式所發生的事:「耶穌成為那看不見、無限、難以形容的上帝的可看見、有限的形象。」

人的頭腦無法想像上帝如何創造整個宇宙,並使萬物都按照軌道運行。在耶穌身上,我們也找不到可以讓人了解的解釋,只有用「道」來描述。祂顯示了上帝的屬性。以下是其中幾項:

祂的愛。你們要彼此相愛,像我愛你們一樣;這就是我的命令。人為朋友捨命,人的愛心沒有比這個大的」(約翰福音15章12-13節)。「主為我們捨命,我們從此就知道何為愛」(約翰一書3章16節)。

祂的謙卑。他本有神的形像,不以自己與神同等為強奪的;反倒虛己,取了奴僕的形像,成為人的樣式」(腓立比書2章6-7節)

祂那僕人的心。因為人子來,並不是要受人的服事,乃是要服事人,並且要捨命作多人的贖價」(馬可福音10章45節)。「我來了,是要叫羊得生命,並且得的更豐盛」(約翰福音10章10節)。

思想 / 討論題目
你會如何用一兩句話說明「聖誕的意義」? 當我們觀察社會,不只在你的國家而是全世界,我們看到人們以許多不同的方式理解聖誕節。你認為這是好或是壞?為什麼? 約翰福音用「道」介紹耶穌基督,布蘭德與楊西說:「耶穌成為那看不見、無限、難以形容的上帝的可看見、有限的形象。」你對此有何看法? 若耶穌基督成為聖誕節的中心人物,而且聖誕節的商業氣息能大幅減少,你認為會帶來什麼不同?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
詩篇89篇1-8節;以賽亞書53章4-6節;約翰福音6章32-40節,14章5-7節,10章1-18節,15章1-8節;羅馬書5章8節:約翰一書1章1-4節

THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS – IN A “WORD”

By: Robert J. Tamasy

It would be hard to imagine any topic about which more words have been said and written than Christmas. This is the time of year when everyone, from political leaders to talk show hosts, offers opinions about “the meaning of Christmas.” Even among members of the clergy and other religious leaders, we find a surprising diversity of commentary about the importance of this holiday that is observed in many parts of the world in some manner.

For many retailers, of course, Christmas means money. It represents “make or break,” since a major portion of their annual revenues comes from seasonal gift-buying. For mail and parcel delivery services, this also is a season of marked increases in volume – and income. For many businesses, it also means a time to reappraise the year on its way out before gearing up for the arrival of the next year.

In the world of entertainment, this time of year we see major films released; new releases of holiday music in various forms; TV specials focusing on Christmas-related themes, and radio stations broadcasting holiday favorites. The transportation industry, ranging from airlines to trains to car rental agencies, braces for the annual Christmas crush. And food manufacturers find “meaning” by shifting their attention to traditional holiday treats.

The list could go on, but none of this provide enlightening on the true meaning of Christmas. Social commentators use “good will,” “brotherly love” and “giving” as generic terms for conveying the meaning of this season. But the book that best describes the first Christmas – the Bible – indicates its meaning can be captured in one “Word.”

In the gospel of John, in the Bible”s New Testament, it states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Students of the Bible understand this “Word” to refer to Jesus Christ, the focus of the entire gospel, as well as the three other gospels found in the Scriptures. Interestingly, the Bible does not refer to Jesus as “the dictionary,” or “the thesaurus” or “the encyclopedia” – only as “the Word.” In their book, In His Image, Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey describe what transpired when Jesus entered time and human existence about more than 2,000 years ago: They state He became “the visible, finite expression of the invisible, infinite, inexpressible God.”

The human mind is at a loss to conceive of a deity that, as the Bible declares, created the entire universe and keeps it on its course. In Jesus, we do not find a comprehensive explanation either, but as the Word, He reveals many important attributes of God. Here are just a sampling of them:

His love. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16).

His humility.Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7).

His servant heart. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many ” (Mark 10:45). “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran of 38 years in professional journalism, he is the author of Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential. For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
In one sentence, or two, how would you summarize your perspective on “the meaning of Christmas”? As we observe society, not only in our country but around the world, we see Christmas perceived in many different ways. In your opinion, is this good or bad – and why? The gospel of John introduces Jesus Christ as “the Word.” How do you respond to authors Brand and Yancey, who offered their view of Jesus becoming “the visible, finite expression of the invisible, infinite, inexpressible God”? What difference would it make, do you think, if Jesus Christ were to become the true central figure of Christmas and the commercialization of the holiday were to be drastically diminished?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:

Psalm 89:1-8; Isaiah 53:4-6; John 6:32-40, 14:5-7,10:1-18, 15:1-8; Romans 5:8; 1 John 1:1-4

Show More