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Do you love me?

I trust that anyone reading this column over Christmas weekend has already put first the Christ child, your family and reaching out to those who are hurting or lonely on this holy day by devoting time and attention to them.

If not, close down your computer and get to it.

If you are one of the latter due to a myriad of circumstances, please take a moment to read and reflect on just why this holy day called Christmas brings “peace on earth, goodwill to men.”

Long before the query “Do you love me?” was presented to Golda by Tevya in my favorite musical of all time, “Fiddler on the Roof,” it was the essence of a miracle that began more than 2,000 years ago in a stable. Before it was even a question, it was a statement.

“I loved you enough to humble myself, endure humiliation, pursue you, suffer for you and die in your place.”

The wonder of the Incarnation – God becoming man for a season – has surrounded the birth of Jesus the Messiah for good reason. It is the first, only and last time that the I Am of the creation of all things, of the burning bush, of the parting of the Red Sea, etc., became not only flesh and blood but became sin to do what we could not do.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Whether you have read Luke 2 as the Christmas story with your family dozens of times or are going to read it for the first time, it is both the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end, to quote Winston Churchill. It is the end of the beginning because from that point the curse of sin had brought death, sickness, tyranny, amorality and every kind of evil upon the beauty of God’s creation – including the mankind He created in His likeness.

It is the beginning of the end because He knew from the beginning of time that we would fall, that our very sin that separated us from Him prohibited us from purchasing our freedom and that He would take it upon Himself to do what we could not. In Him it is finished – He won.

One of my favorite old choruses that is rarely sung in church any more says it beautifully:

I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe; I needed someone to wash my sins away. And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace,” for Jesus paid the debt of love I could not pay.

Will you again celebrate the joy of Christmas and continue to reject its meaning and purpose the other 354 days of the year? We can reject Him not only by refusing His gift of eternal life with Him but also by ostensibly receiving our “fire insurance” and following the Sinatra Creed of living “My Way.”

All the Band-Aids on the rotting corpse we call the United States of America can’t stop the decay as a nation until the power of the true Christmas message turns the hearts, minds and lives of you and I away from our worship of self, pleasure, comfort and even sin. The man whose hymns were also used as wadding for patriot rifles in the War of Independence (Give ’em Watts, boys!) also penned one of our most famous Christmas carols that brings us back to these truths.

Isaac Watts wrote in 1707:

Joy to the World, the Lord is come …

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns …

He rules the world with truth and grace …

You know the rest.

Please take the time to truly look into every nook and cranny of your life and let Him come, reign and rule in you so you are restored now and forever to the One who created you and died for you. U.S. Supreme Court justice David Brewer closed his epic work, “The United States: A Christian Nation” (published in 1905), with these words:

Crown all these (virtues) with the inspirations which come from Christianity, place the Bible on your table and enshrine the Master in your heart and you may be sure you are building up a home which will be not merely peace and blessing to you, but also for the strength and glory of the republic. And when the evening of life comes nigh and you see such homes multiply in the land, this nation become more thoroughly filled with the spirit and principles of Christianity … you will sing with Julia Ward Howe: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

God’s statement of love became a question when Jesus asked the apostle Peter, “Do you love me?” I prayerfully urge each man, woman and child to answer that question with a sincere “Yes!” and prove it by receiving His love in full followed by becoming His instrument of redemption for the rest of your life. That and that alone will change America.

Have a very blessed Christmas!