Christmas is embraced by our American culture as a time of joy and peace on earth. The brightly decorated trees, twinkling lights, songs about red-nosed reindeers, and the image of a jolly fat man in a red suit have become the center of our celebration. If you have been a long-time reader of this blog, then you know that I can no longer associate these festivities with the birth of my Savior. While I can still enjoy experiencing the holiday with family and friends in this manner, my husband and I have separated ourselves from the commercialization, man-made traditions, and questionable roots of the holiday. We choose to focus on the Christ child and the miracle of His birth; it doesn't matter if it is His "actual" birthday or not. It has simply become a time to honor Him.
You may have seen his letter on other news outlets, but it should be read again today; the day that Christians around the world celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world.
And then, ask yourselves if you -- in all your comfort and stability and display of Christmas Joy -- could declare, with the same unwavering faith, the true miracle represented by this day.
Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.
Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means "God is with us".
Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark, cold, wintry, frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and remove them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini
Soaking in the lava love of Christ
Please pray for the release of Pastor Abedini, remembering that our Lord came "to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness." (Isaiah 42:7). In the spirit of love and sacrifice that the Christ child represents, I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE: It has been three years since the death of a very special person in the lives of PLW and myself. Ben Breedlove died far too young, on Christmas night 2011. But he escaped these earthly chains, and left behind a YouTube message that touched the hearts of millions around the world, and pointed the way to God. We miss you, and will always love you, Ben!
Isaiah 9:6-7 "For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.