WORLD REPORT

A Christmas Message from the Superintendent General

Two weeks ago, at the Portland International Airport ticket counter, I opened my passport to the photograph page as I prepared to hand it to the agent. Looking down, I was stunned to see a photo of Debbie looking back at me. I had brought the wrong passport! My leisurely morning suddenly turned to panic mode.

Earlier that morning, I had awakened at 3:15 a.m., an hour before my alarm was set to go off. The appeal of a cup of coffee and an hour at my desk motivated me to get up. At the corner of my desk rested the passport. Closer to where I sat, in my top left drawer, rested the correct passport. The two are actually very similar: they have the same issue and expiration dates, and the two nine-digit passport numbers are identical except that one ends with a five and the other with a six. However, the inside photographs and names are clearly different. I had missed the obvious, and walked out of the house with the incorrect passport.

Consider how many miss the obvious during the Christmas season. Even though Christ is often removed from Christmas by calling it “Xmas,” nearly everyone on our planet is well aware that December 25 is indeed Christmas. This is the day that the birth of Jesus Christ is acknowledged by the world and celebrated by Christians. Even so, many miss the obvious significance. For years, I was one of them. Growing up, my six siblings and I celebrated the day by unwrapping gifts from our parents. However, the real meaning of the holiday escaped me until I became a Christian as a young adult.

We read in the Gospels of many who missed the obvious when Jesus was born. The shepherds made known abroad the angelic message, but we have no record that anyone did anything more than wonder at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Many were in the Temple when Mary and Joseph presented their Baby to the Lord, but we only read that Simeon and Anna acknowledged Him as the long-awaited Messiah. The scribes told Herod that the infant King was to be born in Bethlehem but they did not bother to take the six-mile trip to see Him. In fact, though all Jerusalem was stirred when the Wise Men declared that the King of the Jews had been born, we have no record that even one person followed them to the house where the star led.

Christmas was a happy time during my growing-up years. Only after we received salvation did we understand what should have been obvious much earlier—Christmas is about celebrating the fact that God gave His Son that we might all be saved.

As it turned out, my son-in-law is an early riser and he answered my 5:00 a.m. phone call before my departure to Lagos, Nigeria. Then he, my daughter, and my wife easily located the correct passport and brought it to me with time to spare. Missing the obvious that day only cost me and my family members some anxiety. To miss Jesus as the Savior who God gave for our redemption is to miss abundant life free from sin and condemnation, with a hope of seeing Him at His soon return.

As the world pauses to acknowledge Christmas Day, may we be among those who celebrate the meaning of the day. Debbie and I wish you a Merry Christmas and pray for the New Year to bring you many blessings. 

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