Summary: To focus on how differently people respond to Christmas very much like they did 2000 years ago!!!
CHRISTMAS: DIFFERENT STROKES
Its quiz time, folks! What is the significance of April 2nd 1984 in Indian History? Pat yourself on the back, if you have hit upon the right answer. Cheer-up, if you are still clueless for here comes a clue... well, well, well, the said date has something to do with Indian space history. If you have still not hit the bulls eye, do not worry... here comes the right answer... that was the day the first and the only Indian cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma landed in space, rather to be more precise in Salyut 7 space station (of erstwhile Soviet Union) and you know I AM MORE PROUD THAN MOST OF OUR COUNTRYMEN. Are you wondering why? Okay, let me not put you through the rigmarole of yet another quiz but instead come straight to the point. The answer is I share something more in common with him, than a common nationality or a passport. The fact of the matter is that both of us studied IN THE SAME SCHOOL! St. Georges Boys Grammar School, Abids, Hyderabad, India! EUREKA!
Dwelling more on that landmark day of Indian space history, I would like to focus on three types of reactions, which were so conspicuous consequent to Indian space hero's amazing feat. I still distinctly remember the crew of the solo National TV Channel (those were not the days of multi-channel entertainment) scampering from street to street trying to capture live the elation of the Indian public. While, the majority of those interviewed were jubilant about the epochal achievement of their countryman, strangely a few seemed indifferent. Difficult to believe that a few reacted with such casual indifference but its true! What about the reaction of some of our hostile neighbors? Well, Newspaper reports subsequently confirmed that Indian space age crossing a milestone caused much trepidation across the borders! Talk of mistaking a rope for a snake! What's new about it, some one may well ask!!!
Well, 2000 years ago, yet another cosmic event took place. Conversely instead of any Earthling going to space, Planet Earth had a visitor from "Outer space". The Creator now in the form of a Redeemer touched down upon His once perfect but now sin-marred creation to set its murky affairs in order. This "avatar" was not about killing sinners but laying down His life as atonement for them.
God's redemption plan can best be understood from a true life story, I remember reading in Our Daily Bread (an International Daily devotional Ministry), some years back. It was about a young man produced in the court by the concerned Police authorities after he had been caught committing some petty crime. During the course of the trial, the wise judge with his wisdom borne out of years of being the judge (so went the narration) came to a conclusion that this young man if given the "second chance", would surely mend his ways. However, how could he let go of a person caught red-handed by the police? That would be doing gross injustice to his chair. However, there was a strong urge within this Dispenser of justice, to act out of "GRACE" and not as per the "rigid law". Caught in the dilemma, the Judge, the story says, passed a judgment that the young man in the Box has to pay the fine in proportion to the crime committed. However this bizarre yet insightful story does not end there but takes a very different turn towards the end, with the Judge coming down from his judgment seat, standing before the now visibly surprised convict and saying that he would pay the fine on his behalf. Doesn't this story in a small way mirror God's Salvation plan. Man had to die for his sins (wages of sin is death- Romans 6:23) but it was the Creator, donning the role of the Redeemer who eventually took that death penalty upon Himself, in order that the sinful man gets a "second chance". Now to this forgiven man, the same Redeemer would assume the role of a Guide, faithfully guiding him till he reaches the Heavenly shores. That's the third dimension of the Christian faith...the Ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit in any Christian's life. If Christmas-the birth of the Christ child-on, which hinged the very salvation of fallen Mankind-, heralded the unfolding of God's plan of redemption, the Calvary's cross its completion, then the outpouring of the Holy spirit on the Pentecostal Sunday (Acts 2:1-4) on the believers confirmed its fruition! However the fact that the Holy Spirit can fulfill its mission only in the life of a redeemed man (John 14:23-26), underscores the significance of "THE ACT OF REDEMPTION" authored by Christ in no small measure in the Divine scheme of things.
Coming to "Different strokes" of Christmas, the grandest event-setting in motion God's most momentous plan- evoked amongst others primarily three kinds of responses, as can be observed in the II Chapter of St. Matthew on the basis of which, I aim to (in this message) categorize three types of people, who still the react to Christ coming to Earth the same way ...