Christmas message: Jesus came into our world
The real meaning of Christmas is the message that God gave hope to all of mankind through the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Larry Szyman of Faith Community Church said Jesus came to our world to allow the forgiveness of sins and give peace and hope to all.
"Christmas is the message of Christ," Szyman said. "God, through Christ, became flesh -- human. The real message is that the 'great creator' -- God -- broke into time and history through the life of Jesus. God is not distant and aloof; he's up-close and personal."
Szyman said Jesus is often called Immanuel.
"Immanuel means God with us."
Faith Community Church, 777 Carmichael Road, has been one of Hudson's fastest growing churches in the past two decades and has a strong biblical base. On the church Web site, the mission states: Faith Community exists to make more and better disciples of Jesus Christ.
"During our Advent series we emphasized the theme of God -- Jesus -- living among us," Szyman said. "Our advent theme was 'God in our Place.'
He said that if you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.
"If you look at Jesus you see that he gives himself and of himself," Szyman said. "All of his sacrifices were for our benefit. We can learn through Jesus and see what our focus should be."
The message and following Jesus Christ sounds simple enough, but there are many pitfalls facing mankind.
"To be a follower of Christ calls for continual renewal," Szyman said. "It becomes a way of life, not a 'one and done' deal.
"We all fall into cultural traps. Rather than people, items like money and materialism become our gods."
Szyman is quick to point out, however, that God is not necessarily against material possessions.
"By coming to earth, Christ became material," Szyman said. "Material things are not bad, just be sure God is in the right place. God is not 'anti things,' but he is anti things as god."
Szyman said all people need to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ.
"Who needs the message? First, people in the church need to be reminded of the Good News of Christmas. Second, those who are outside of a relationship with God need to hear it.
"The arrival of Christ is what people long for - transcendence, hope and purpose. The standard fare of materialism won't deliver those things."
As far as reaching those not connected with Christ and God, Szyman said the best model is a church that non-believers notice.
"When a church is truly of church, the culture will notice."
He said Faith Community makes a concerted effort to reach out into the community.
"It's not just about 'us.' We hope to reach out into the St. Croix Valley and beyond. A church's greatest asset is God at work through his people.
"God become flesh not to establish programs, but relationships."
Of course, Christmas is only part of the story.
"We celebrate Christ's birth at Christmas, but as important is his death and resurrection which we celebrate at Easter," Szyman said. "This is kind of the kickoff leading to the grand conclusion. Christmas, Christ and the later resurrection personify what man was incapable of performing himself.
"The Good News is that God came into our world through Jesus and provided hope and rescue for the weak and needy -- all of us."
Like all Hudson churches, Faith Community is offering services Christmas Eve (Wednesday). Candlelight services are offered at 4, 6 and 11 p.m.