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Pelham Reverend: Jesus is the Meaning of Christmas

PELHAM, N.Y. - The meaning of Christmas is uniquely different for every individual who celebrates the holiday.

The Rev.  Randy Alexander, the Episcopalian rector of Christ Church, is quick to point out the significance of the holy day.

“The meaning of Christmas for Christians is it’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ – period,” said Alexander. “A lot over the centuries has been added to that and in some cases obscuring the original truth, but that is the truth.”

While giving and receiving gifts has been a longtime Christmas tradition, Alexander would like to see people focus on the main reason for the season.

“Even the tradition of giving gifts, which sometimes feels like the tail wagging the dog, even that tradition is to remember the incomparable gift God gave us in giving us his son,” said Alexander. “A lot of the stuff that’s been added over the years can be fun, but we need to remember the central meaning for it to make sense, I believe.”

Alexander, who has served at Christ Church for 17 years, is honored to be able to celebrate the cherished day with his 620-person congregation.

“Sometimes it hits in the Eucharist itself, sometimes it hits at midnight mass and sometimes it hits when we’re kneeling singing, “Silent Night,” said Alexander. "It hits what an incredible privilege to lead a community in the observance of one of our highest holy days, which is what holiday comes from. It’s an incredible privilege.”

He stressed that the Christmas season is much more complex than a one-day celebration.

“Also, as Christians, we try to make the point it’s not just the one day. It’s a 12-day season – it’s the 12 days of Christmas,” said Alexander. “It’s a juggling act and it does help to remember it’s a 12-day season. It’s not just the one day. It goes from Christmas Day to the Epiphany. Obviously, I mean Christmas Day is the highlight of it, but it is a season. Really, we should be observing that whole time, which takes a little of the pressure off of it all having to be on one day.”

Alexander is hoping to see people’s seasonal goodwill continue throughout the year.

“Our church school just did a toy drive for our ministry in Port Chester that works with needy children,” he said. “Gift after gift after gift we were sending up there and we try in all of that to keep the perspective: It’s not just doing it because it feels right or even it’s a good thing to do. Again, we’re giving in remembrance of what God gives us, which puts it on a different plane.”

Pelham resident James Searles looks forward to Christmas more than any other day of the year because he will be able to spend time with his family.

“I always love to celebrate Christmas because it’s the most important day in my life and just being around with the family and everything,” said Searles. “I’m just looking forward to be around to celebrate Christmas and be with family, friends, and loved ones. It means a lot to me because it brings the spirit.”

Searles is most thankful for Jesus and the time he has been given in life, but is also looking forward to the New Year.

“It’s just a wonderful blessing and I thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for allowing me to not just to see another year, but I continue to have a blessed Christmas, a blessed holiday, and a blessed New Year.”

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