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Children and youth from St. Mary's Episcopal Church practice for the Christmas Eve pageant. Shown are Shemar Luckie, Brenna Wells, Alden Wells, Alex Barnes, Ashlyn Nall, Catherine Weed and Jonathon Weed.

Reason for the season

Published 12:00am Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Local ministers emphasize that the true meaning of Christmas is not about the presents under the tree, it’s about the greatest gift of all – God’s gift of his son to save the world.

Dr. Fred Karthaus of Andalusia’s First Baptist Church said Christmas is “a reminder to us all that God loves us.”

“He has shown us His love by sending his son into the world to be our savior by becoming the one and for all sacrifice of our sin,” he said.

Karthaus said one the wonderful aspects of this season is that everywhere one turns one encounters symbols of the holy day.

“For example, evergreen trees are a symbol of eternal life,” he said. “Christmas gifts are a reminder of the greatest gift, Jesus. Much like the first angelic choir, Christmas carolers and choirs proclaim our savior’s birth in song. Lights are a symbol of the ‘light of the world.’ Even a candy cane that is shaped like a shepherd’s crook is a reminder to us of the ‘good shepherd.’”

The Rev. Cindy Howard, rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, said she believes the meaning of Christmas is centered on the name given to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.

“God is still among us and each of us can be used to bring God into the world, if we allow ourselves to be used for that purpose. Rather than being a holiday we celebrate once a year,” she said. “Christmas is both a challenge and an invitation that guides our lives all during the year. Christmas is about God’s presences in the world, not about the presents we will receive.”

The Rev. David McMillan of Florala’s First Presbyterian Church-PCA said a lot can be learned from Mary during the Christmas season.

McMillan spoke of Luke 1:39 in which “Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judea and entered into the house of Zachariah.”

“She went with haste,” he said. “That little word caught my attention. That word denotes care as well as diligence. It means haste and speed to get some business done. What do we do with haste?

“My mother used to say more than once to me, ‘haste makes waste,’ McMillan said. “Well sometimes haste is a good thing apparently. This season of the year has a lot of haste. We rush to get our Christmas cards done. This little word (haste) got me to thinking about a lot of things we do.

“We can say things to people in haste,” he said. “That is sometimes a good thing, but other times we probably need to shut up and listen first. I usually do not make decisions in haste, but apparently if we follow the example of Mary it is a good thing to do, we learn. Haste with careful diligence and earnestness to do the good things we should do is a good thing.”

McMillan said when people do good to others there is a mutual blessing in that giving.

“The one who is given to reciprocates and gives back to Mary,” he said. “At this Christmas time, which begins on Christmas Eve and lasts until the epiphany of our lord, that is the coming of the wise men to the manger, we too can act with good haste to share the love of God to others who are not so blessed.”

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