Pastors offer words of love, hope

Church leaders find many ways to explain the message of Christmas on eve of holiday

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

DeKALB – For the first time, First Lutheran Church held two Christmas Eve services Tuesday at a barn.

Pastor Janet Hunt said she bought her first pair of snowpants since she was 7 years old for the service at Johnson Family Farm, 1765 W. State St. in Sycamore. Hunt wanted to portray the birth of Jesus Christ, even though the Bible doesn’t explicitly say Jesus was born in a barn, she said.

“Wherever he was born, maybe at a hospital or homeless shelter, we don’t know, but it teaches us to watch for Christ coming to places where you don’t expect it,” Hunt said.

That’s the message Hunt wanted to tell her parishioners this holiday season. Other local pastors chose to stick to scripture to tell stories of love and hope.

Jason Draper, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, delivered his sermon called “Divine Paradox” at 6 p.m. Tuesday talking about the paradoxes in Luke 2, the section of the bible which tells the story of Jesus’ birth.

Draper listed seven paradoxes involving Jesus’ birth, including that Jesus was born as a king in the slums of Bethlehem rather than in Jerusalem, where kings are usually born, he said.

Another paradox is that Christ’s birth was announced by shepherds, the lowest class in society at the time, Draper said.

“[Shepherds] couldn’t testify in court. They were recluses, excluded from society,” Draper said. “If a king was born, and [someone was needed to] testify he was born, no human being would pick shepherds.”

“God didn’t become bigger to impress us. He became smaller to attract us.”

Dennis Campbell, pastor of DeKalb Foursquare Church, held a holiday service Sunday and delivered the last of a three-part miniseries for Christmas. The first part was called “God Has Spoken,” the second was called “God Has Given” and the third was called “God Has Loved.”

Campbell defined what grace and love are and what God can do for people in need.

“Even though we can’t feel him, [God is] here,” he said. “We remind people of the hope they can have through God.”

Campbell said the most important message he can give people is from the often-quoted John 3:16, which reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Draper said his church delivers that same message year after year and that it can be difficult to find a new and creative way to deliver it.

However, he’s never too worried.

“It’s the greatest message in history,” he said. “I’m not stuck looking for a great message, and I’m not [searching] my brain saying: ‘How can I encourage people?’ The message is as good as it gets.

“The hope God has given us is so good and so loving, he couldn’t possibly love us more.”

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