Merry Christmas to the Friendly City!
Greetings beloved citizens of Bradenton and Manatee County,
It is with tenderness in my heart and great excitement that I write you this brief Epistle of Love, Joy and Celebration!
My favorite two holidays, as it probably is for many other Christians, are Christmas and Easter.
Christmas is the promise fulfilled and Easter is the victory made manifest.
After being a Christian for more than 25 years, I am still moved with the awe and wonder of Christmas.
The true story of the birth of Christ continues to tower above the greatest adventure tale ever told!
From the vast amount of prophecies foretelling His arrival to the integrity and valor of Mary's husband, Joseph, the young couple's grueling journey to Bethlehem, the heavenly invasion announcing the birth of the Christ Child to the shepherds on a hill, the magnificent entrance of the Magi to the colossal faith and trust of a young virgin girl embracing her miraculous assignment that was conceived of the Holy Spirit.
WOW! OH WOW!!!
Whether there is an abundance of gifts under your tree this year or a few humble presents for those you love, it is my prayer and desire for you that your hearts would be full, bursting with the WOW and the wonder of Christmas this season.
I often hear people say at this time of the year that we must keep the Christ in Christmas, and I am in full agreement with that statement. But true Christianity must transcend words and move into action, permeating every segment and fiber of our lives. To truly keep Christ in Christmas, He must be on the throne of our hearts and reigning over our minds, thoughts, emotions and our behavior.
For churchgoers who only say "Merry Christmas" and walk not in love, forgiveness, kindness, generosity toward mankind, they eliminate the Christ in Christmas by default. I want to encourage all those who champion the title Christian to become a living Christmas card in all they do and be a light in the darkness.
The apostle Paul puts it this way; You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. -- 2 Corinthians 3:2-3.
While for us "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," I would like to declare and trumpet for The Heavenly Father: You are His reason for the season!
Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. -- John 3:15-17.
I would like to offer you the greatest gift I could ever share, I offer you Jesus. Regardless of who you are or what you've done, God really does love you. He sent His Son who paid the ultimate price for you. He died for your sins, but death could not hold Him. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you, too, can have a new and eternal life. Ask Him into your heart. Ask Him to heal you, teach you His ways, and use you to help others.
Welcome to the Kingdom!
If you do not have a home church, it would be an honor to have you join us for our Christmas Celebration Service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday as well as our 7 p.m. Christmas Eve Service at 825 Ninth St. W. in downtown Bradenton across from Turner Donuts.
On behalf of the Kingdom Life Christian Church Family, Merry Christmas and an Exceedingly Blessed New Year!
Don Sturiano, is pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Church, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at 825 Ninth St. W., just across from Turner Donuts. Information: 941-776-0026. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.