December 4: Philippians 1:20-21

Even in prison, Paul found reason for Hope: "...everything he wants to do in and through me will be done.... Everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless whether I live or die. They didn't shut me up; they gave me a pulpit." (The Message)

While Paul had life on this earth, he exalted Christ, the Son of God, by preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. Paul's Hope was placed in Christ, and he knew that Christ could be the Hope of ail mankind. Paul seemed to prefer death to life at this point, but if his life were to continue, he was going to make the most of the opportunities he had to share the Good News of Christ. Weighing life against death, Paul said, "Alive, I'm Christ's messenger; dead, I'm his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can't lose."
(The Message)

At this time of year when we gather with our children and grandchildren to celebrate the birth of Christ, we affirm that "living is Christ." Our lives are focused on worship and filled with love for family, friends, and others. We more clearly recognize how Christ has changed, redirected, and blessed our lives. Like Paul we are inspired to exalt Christ through the way we live.

However, we may find it difficult to embrace Paul's statement that "dying is gain." We struggle with the thought of the end of life and separation from our loved ones. How could death be a positive? Scripture tells us that we have victory over death through Christ. We have Hope because the grace of God offered through Christ will allow us to be sons of God and dwell with Him in His Holy City where there will be no death, no mourning, no weeping, no pain. Because of this Hope, we can't lose.

John Parrish