Friday, April 19, 2024

Vine Media

葡萄樹傳媒

了解聖誕節真正的意義──GETTING TO THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

For English version, please refer to the latter part of this page

無論你準備好與否,2023年正迅速接近尾聲。這意味著,又到了我們許多人視為非常有意義的兩個節日的慶祝時刻 – 聖誕節和元旦。本週我們將聚焦於每年的聖誕慶典;下週我們將探討新一年的開始,可能意味著什麼。

對許多企業而言,聖誕節的特別之處並非是一個宗教節日。它通常是財務年度,可否被視為成功的決定因素。通常零售業銷售的飆升,不僅包括購買聖誕禮物,還與購買和節日慶典周遭的商品有關。聖誕季的獲利能力在很大程度上,影響著公司最終利潤的盈虧是否能發放年終獎金,以及在新的一年開始時,事業應該定位為成長還是預算緊縮的狀態。

對許多人而言,聖誕節在個人層面也代表著各樣事物:應該買什麼禮物(給誰);參加的派對和其他特殊活動;家人和朋友共聚享受節慶聚餐,以及在「奉獻的季節」中要進行的慈善捐助等等。

所有這些都是值得關注的問題。然而,對基督徒來說,最重要的莫過於一定要花時間來認識和慶祝「這個季節的真正原因」-上帝之子耶穌的降生。馬太福音1章23節告訴我們:「以馬內利繙出來就是「神與我們同在」」。沒有耶穌基督,就不需要聖誕節。聖經清楚地表明了這一點:

上帝成為人的形象。在耶穌基督身上,我們發現世界的創造者,成為了祂所創造世界的積極參與者。「太初有道,道與神同在,道就是神。這道太初與神同在。萬物是藉著他造的;凡被造的,沒有一樣不是藉著他造的。」(約翰福音1章1-3節)

耶穌來是為了驅逐黑暗。我們的世界似乎越來越黑暗,邪惡以各種形式表現出來。21 世紀的職場也不例外。耶穌來到世間的原因之一就是要驅逐黑暗,為人們指明從黑暗和絕望走向光明和盼望的道路。「生命在他裡頭,這生命就是人的光。光照在黑暗裡,黑暗卻不接受光。」(約翰福音1章4-5節),「耶穌又對眾人說:「我是世界的光。跟從我的,就不在黑暗裡走,必要得著生命的光。」(約翰福音8章12節)

耶穌來付出了我們無法付出的代價。聖經教導我們,我們的罪孽,我們對上帝有意識的悖逆,所要付出的代價,比我們所能付出的任何代價都要大。因此,耶穌以祂的慈愛和恩典,替我們在十字架上付出了這代價。「惟有基督在我們還作罪人的時候為我們死,神的愛就在此向我們顯明了。」(羅馬書5章8節)「神使那無罪(無罪:原文作不知罪)的,替我們成為罪,好叫我們在他裡面成為神的義。(哥林多後書5章21節)

耶穌來為我們帶來新生命。我們為自己的過犯辯解,說「我只是個人」。耶穌不但死了,而且從死裡復活了,祂為我們提供了屬靈上的新生命,使我們擺脫聖經中所說的罪的束縛。「他死是向罪死了,只有一次;他活是向神活著。這樣,你們向罪也當看自己是死的;向神在基督耶穌裡,卻當看自己是活的。」(羅馬書6章10-11節)

挑戰思考

人們很容易沉浸在聖誕節的節日氣氛和這個季節的眾多活動中。但重要的是,要花時間反思聖誕節的真正意義-耶穌基督以祂的生命和使命,來改變人類的生命和世界。計劃在接下來的幾天裡留出一些時間,與家人或親密的朋友一起思考這個問題。想想看如果基督從未降臨,世界會有什麼不同?

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的內容,請參考以下的經文(因篇幅有限,請自行參閱未列出的經文:路加福音2:1-20節)

路加福音1章26-28節
1:26到了第六個月,天使加百列奉神的差遣往加利利的一座城去(這城名叫拿撒勒),
1:27到一個童女那裡,是已經許配大衛家的一個人,名叫約瑟。童女的名字叫馬利亞;
1:28天使進去,對他說:「蒙大恩的女子,我問你安,主和你同在了!」
羅馬書3章23節
3:23 因為世人都犯了罪,虧缺了神的榮耀;
羅馬書6章1-4節、23節
6:1這樣,怎麼說呢?我們可以仍在罪中、叫恩典顯多嗎?
6:2斷乎不可!我們在罪上死了的人豈可仍在罪中活著呢?
6:3豈不知我們這受洗歸入基督耶穌的人是受洗歸入他的死嗎?
6:4所以,我們藉著洗禮歸入死,和他一同埋葬,原是叫我們一舉一動有新生的樣式,像基督藉著父的榮耀從死裡復活一樣。
6:23因為罪的工價乃是死;惟有神的恩賜,在我們的主基督耶穌裡,乃是永生。
哥林多後書5章17節
5:17若有人在基督裡,他就是新造的人,舊事已過,都變成新的了。
加拉太書2章20節
2:20我已經與基督同釘十字架,現在活著的不再是我,乃是基督在我裡面活著;並且我如今在肉身活著,是因信神的兒子而活;他是愛我,為我捨己。

反省與問題討論

  1. 聖誕節對你來說意味著什麼?它對你的企業或組織意味著什麼?
  2. 聖誕節期間,你和你的家人有什麼特別的慶祝習俗嗎?如果有,是什麼?
  3. 許多人聲稱,聖誕節的真正意義已經被淡化,甚至被逐漸摒棄。你同意這種說法嗎?請解釋你的答案。
  4. 當你考慮聖誕節是在耶穌基督的背景下,不只他的出生,還考慮到他的一生時,你會想到什麼?


GETTING TO THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

By Robert J. Tamasy

Ready or not, the calendar year is rapidly coming to a close. This means it is time once again to celebrate two holidays many of us find very meaningful – Christmas and New Year’s Day. This week we will focus on the annual Christmas observance; next week we will look at what the start of a new year can mean.

For many businesses, what stands out about Christmas is not that it is a religious holiday. It is often the determining factor for whether the fiscal year can be regarded as a good one or not. Retail sales typically soar, not only with the purchasing of Christmas gifts but also for any merchandise that relates in some way to holiday festivities. The profitability of the Christmas season greatly affects whether a company’s bottom line looks black or red; whether year-end bonuses can be awarded; and whether the business is positioned for growth or budget tightening at the start of the new year.

For a lot of us, Christmas also means a variety of things on a personal level: What gifts we should buy (and for whom); parties and other special events to attend; the gathering of family and friends for festive meals, and what charitable contributions to make during “the season for giving,” to name a few.

All of these are valid concerns. However, for followers of Jesus Christ, none is more important than making certain to take time to recognize and celebrate “the real reason for the season” – the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. Or as Matthew 1:23 tells us, “Immanuel – which means, ‘God with us.’” Without Jesus Christ, there would be no need for Christmas. The Scriptures show that clearly:

God took on human form. In the person of Jesus Christ, we find the Creator of the world becoming an active participant in the world He created. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3).

Jesus came to dispel the darkness. Our world seems to be increasingly dark, evil manifesting itself in many forms. The 21st century marketplace is no exception. One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to cast the darkness aside, to show people the way from darkness and desperation to light and hope. “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:4-5). “When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Jesus came to pay a price we could not pay. The Bible teaches the penalty for our sinfulness, our conscious rebellion against God, is a greater price than anything we could ever pay. So, in His mercy and grace, Jesus went to the cross to pay that price on our behalf. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus came to offer us new life. We justify our human failings, saying, “I’m only human.” Jesus, who not only died but also was raised from the dead, offers us new life spiritually, freeing us from what the Bible calls bondage to sin. “The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:10-11).

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What does Christmas mean to you? What does it mean for your business or organization?
  2. At Christmastime, do you have any special traditions that you and your family observe? If so, what are they – and why are they important to you?
  3. Many claim the true meaning of Christmas has become diluted, if not dismissed altogether. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  4. When you consider Christmas within the context of Jesus Christ, not only His birth but also His life, what thoughts come to your mind?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
     Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-20; Romans 3:23, 6:1-4,23; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20.

Challenge

It is easy to become caught up in the holiday atmosphere of Christmas and the many activities of this season. But it’s important to take time to reflect upon its true meaning – Jesus Christ and His life-changing, world-changing life and mission. Plan to set aside some time within the next several days to consider this with family members or a close friend. Consider: How would the world be different if Christ had never come?



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