The reason for the season

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Local churches discuss the commercialization of Christmas 

Christmas means different things to different people.

Stores have been packed with shoppers for weeks leading up to this day, making it easy to get overwhelmed with the commercial side of Christmas.

However, area churches are reminding the community to pause and remember the real gift of the holiday.

Many churches have already held their special services and Christmas programs that share the story of Christmas, from Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem to the birth of Christ. Central Assembly of God in Haughton will be having a Christmas worship and communion service Wednesday, Dec. 25, at 6:30 p.m.

Lauren Harris, Administrative Assistant for Christian Education, Missions, and the Music Department, the service will be a time reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ and “thank the Lord for all that He has done for us.”

“I think some people forget about the true meaning of Christmas,” Harris said. “There are many people who focus solely on “stuff” and forget about the Savior of the World.  While it is not wrong to have fun and exchange gifts, we should never forget the reason why we celebrate Christmas.”

Dr. Ramonalynn Bethley, Senior Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, said their congregation is fully aware of the real reason for the season. Through the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping for the perfect gifts, church members make additional purchases for families and children who might otherwise go without.

“The cornerstone of this church is our mission work,” Bethley said. “We encourage families to adopt families in need for Christmas. While they are shopping for their own families, they are keeping their adopted families in mind as well. The purpose of that is to turn ordinary mall purchases into a mission to help others.”

David Dietzel, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bossier City, agreed with Bethley that the giving spirit tends to be widespread throughout the community during the Christmas season.

“We all get wrapped up in gift giving. That’s not a bad thing, but this is also a time that people become more generous with helping others,” Dietzel said.

Each church presents its Christmas message in its own way. At Central Assembly of God, they invite guests to take a drive through a living depiction of Bethlehem and the Nativity, complete with live animals and actors reliving the days of Christ’s birth.

Harris said it’s their gift to the community each year.

“Our congregation is very in touch with the true meaning of Christmas,” she said. “We recognize that Christmas is the time to celebrate Jesus, and it is a time when we should focus on giving. “Christmas at the Cross” is our annual Christmas community outreach that we offer for free to the public so that we are able to share the true meaning of Christmas with them.”

Learning about the story of Christ, for some, begins at a very early age through Christmas plays, musicals and family services on Christmas Eve.

“We’re not shy about singing, preaching or telling the story,” Bethley said. “We are celebrating and we want our children to know that.”

Regardless of religious affiliation, the Christmas story has a message that everyone can relate to, one of peace and hope for the whole world.

“Christ came to bring hope and life. No one knows the world better than Christ, no matter our situations or circumstance,” Bethley said. “He will be born again into our hearts this Christmas day.”

More importantly, Dietzel said, is to remember the reason for the season throughout the year, not just on December 25.

“This is a season and time that we do celebrate the birth of Jesus. We need to reflect, not only at this time, but certainly at this time all that Jesus gave and gives to us through his life, his teaching and his death,” Dietzel said. “Be a follower of those principles throughout the year.”