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You have seen me pray, heard me preach and read where I have written of my desire to see God in 2020. My desire is to have God move in such a way that we would know that it had to be Him. I’ve prayed for a sweeping revival to move upon our churches and our people within The Churches of Christ in Christian Union.

As we come to the final days of the year, some may wonder if we did see God in 2020. I believe we have seen God. We have seen God fulfill Scripture. He has been faithful to us during this most unusual year. A year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has been a year of National unrest and the threat of freedoms and life as we have known it to be gone. It has been a year of churches not able to gather with their congregations and a year of masks and physical distancing. I admit it has been a different year but be assured we have seen God. As we look back at the year 2020, I believe we will see it as a divinely different year. There have been billions of babies born since the world began, but no other one baby was born so uniquely different than Jesus when He was born in Bethlehem that first Christmas. We think this has been a different year but as we read and study Matthew 1:1-25, we can see how Jesus’ birth was divinely different.

The birth of Jesus was different:

A Different Genealogy: Genealogy was important to the Jews. Women were never mentioned in the family tree, yet four women are mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy - Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and a reference to Bathsheba. God’s grace and love is seen in Jesus’s different genealogy.

A Different Mother: Mary was visited by an angel and was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. The thing that makes Jesus birth so different was that Mary was a virgin.

A Different Father: Joseph was chosen to help raise Jesus. Matthew 1:19,24 and 25 describes Joseph as a just man, obedient, patient and of great character to raise Jesus but Jesus was born the ‘Son of God.’ That’s worth shouting about.

A Different Name: Choosing a name for your newborn can be difficult, however, Jesus name was picked out from the beginning of time. He actually had three names. Christ means prophet and king. Jesus means Jehovah saves and Immanuel means God with us.

A Different Purpose: John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Only Jesus can save us from our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus is the Savior. Jesus has made a difference in our world and in the lives of all who have allowed Him to be their Savior.

I love my boys and they made a significant difference in my life when they were born, but no baby has made such a difference in my life as Jesus. I am so thankful for Jesus who came to give us everlasting life.

I read a story about how God was portrayed in a school Christmas program and something different took place. The father tells his story:

"Because of work I was not able to attend my little boys Christmas program. His name is Nicholas. As I shared this with my boy’s teacher, I was told that all the parents who could not attend the Christmas program was invited to the dress rehearsal. So, the morning of the dress rehearsal I came early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because it was a public school, I wasn’t expecting much about Christ or Christmas. I expected nothing more than fun, commercial entertainment. So, I was slightly surprised when my son’s class rose to sing, “Christmas Love.” I was surprised by the bold title in this setting.

Nicholas was aglow along with his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters and bright snowcaps upon their heads. Some of the class stood in the front and center of the stage and held up large letters to spell out the title of the song. As the class would sing “C is for Christmas,” a child would hold up the letter C. Then “H is for Happy,” and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, “Christmas Love.”

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her, a small, quiet girl in the front row holding the letter “M” upside down. She was totally unaware that her letter “M” appeared as a “W”. The audience of the 1st through 6th graders snickered at the little girl’s mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her “W”. Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even through the difference and the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities. For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear. “CHRIST WAS LOVE.” We understood and we could finally see. “CHRISTWAS LOVE." He still is and always will be!!!"

This past year has been different, but God is not silenced by things different. Different is His way of being seen. I pray we look back on 2020 with perfect vision and see Christ, the prophet king, Jesus as the one who saves and Immanuel, God is with us. We can enter a new year without fear. We can move into 2021 with faith and a boldness to spread the Gospel. Join me in prayer for we can do more together. You are loved!

I pray you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.

Dr. Mike Holbrook
General Superintendent