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for 80 years

You are known and loved -- Merry Christmas!

It’s December now and Christmas is right around the corner, and we are in the beginning of the Advent season.

As most of you know by now from my stories and relentless devotion to the Red Sox, I grew up in Boston. Right in the heart of the city is a neighborhood of stores called Downtown Crossing.

My father pastored a church just outside of the city, and I remember so well taking the subway into Boston every Christmas when I was a little boy. The images are still vivid. A nucleus of jewels, department stores, specialty shops, Santa’s workshop and window displays with animated elves and bears -— a grand sense of enchantment to a mittened 5-year-old holding father’s hand.

A few years before we moved to So Cal, which is just as devoted to Christmas but without the mittens, snow and visible breath, I stood one December day taking it all in...variety of sights characteristic of Downtown Crossing at Christmas time.

With so many people there one particular Christmas, I remember standing there, thinking, “Do these people matter to God?” Does he care? So many anonymous faces and stories that I couldn’t imagine each one really made a difference. Does one person really matter?

As I stood on the cobblestones of Boston’s Downtown Crossing where 1,000 faces that have no name from possibly 100 different countries passed by, I questioned, “Does God know each name? Does he care?”

And then, that day, against the backdrop of the tinny department store speakers crackling out the tune to “Deck the Halls,” a block away I heard pealing from the bells of Park Street Church, “O Come O Come Emmanuel, and ransomed captive Israel. Rejoice! Rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.”

Emmanuel. God with us. God incarnate. Came into the world so that whoever believes in him will be called a child of God and know eternal life.

This Christmas at Biola University, with so many activities here and so many more outside of this campus, pause to ponder the peculiarly wonderful news that Christ, Emmanuel, has come to you. And then rejoice.

In the name of Jesus, the Son of God who has come into the world to give life to death, to give light to darkness and to give hope to despair, I pray that your Christmas season will be filled with the Spirit of the one who knows you and loves you.

Deeply celebrate this Christmas remembering that that child born of a virgin and placed in a manger is the exalted Christ who knows your name, who cares about you and who wants you to trust him more.

From my family — Paula, Anders, Ella and Sam — and on behalf of the University’s Board of Trustees, I wish you all a very blessed Christmas, my third here in Southern California. Merry Christmas!

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