I have never shied away from sharing my Christian faith, as imperfect as it is. I view faith as something personal, but appropriate to share with others, as long as someone is not compelled or required to conform to as a condition for employment or citizenship. We do not have a national religion, but we are still a nation that values belief in God.
For educators, Christmas marks the half-way point in the year. When school returns it will be a new year: 2019. Educators will spend a few days at home with their own family at Christmas. It may afford them an opportunity to catch up on reading as well as a chance to finish some personal chores left untended since school started. Christmas is a special time for family, friends and faith.
Christmas Day is one day a year we set aside to thank God for the gift of His son. We must all eventually ponder the meaning of the life and death of a teacher from Nazareth, Jesus Christ. For those of a different faith or even no faith, it is also an opportunity to partake in the goodwill of friends and neighbors, who may be Christian. This time of the year should reflect the best of mankind. For Christians there are five things to consider:
- Miracles. We can claim Jesus is the reason for the season, but the truth is we get lost in the busyness of the holiday. So, it is through childlike wonder we must remember a tiny baby in a manger born in Bethlehem. And while we fully engage in myriad of events, we do not lose focus on this miracle of Jesus Christ living among us. He is the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Message. The hopeful message of Christmas is that we are not alone. God so loved the world that he sent His son Jesus Christ into a world of sin to restore the brokenness between God and Man. His gift of love is better than any gift found under a tree.
- Meaning. Without Jesus birth, His death could never have happened. Jesus’ death made possible the forgiveness of sins, which in turn enables us to look forward to living and reigning with Christ in the Kingdom of God.
- Mission. Our mission is to serve others, in love, and with grace. As Eugene Peterson wrote: “Christian spirituality means living into the mature wholeness of the gospel. It means taking all the elements of your life—children, spouse, job, weather, possessions, relationships—and experiencing them as an act of faith.”
- Ministry. Ministry is more than just work done by clergy. The Greek word in the New Testament that is often translated as “ministry” is diakonia. The basic meaning of this word is “service.” The ultimate example of ministry is Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus of his own free will gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. His entire life on earth, and ultimately His death on the cross, was about others. Ministry means to serve.
Live life by those beliefs and values. Love God. Love each other. Love the world. Love the least. Make disciples of others. When we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives. Mother Teresa said: “Give your hands to serve, and your hearts to love.” That is the path forward for faith, and the “riveting, redemptive, and revolutionary story of God, who left His home to bring us home, and more profoundly, to make us His home” added Nathan Edwardson.
JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He is a lifelong educator.