All posts in Christmas

It’s Not Just a Hallmark Event

I love Christmas as much as the next middle-aged, menopausal, woman. But perhaps I don’t love it for the same reasons as most.

Christmas isn’t just about Hallmark, or gifts, or Black Friday, or Cyber Monday.

You know what I am going to say next…

It’s about Jesus.

But I am not even sure, when I mention His name, we are thinking about the same person. Yes, Jesus was born in a manger and it makes a terrific story, and a great nativity scene with cute little lambs, staffed shepherds, and mysterious wise men.

Here is what I celebrate. Jesus came as a baby yes, but He came to die.

That is the real story.

Humor me a bit with a long Scripture passage from the New Living Translation:

Christ Is Supreme

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation
16 for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead
    So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

All those inspired words are great, but I would like you to pay special attention to the last verse. God reconciled and made peace with us by means of Christs’ death on the cross. That is great news.

Why?

I’d like to give you an example from a sermon I heard from J D Greer. He asked the listener to imagine themselves with binoculars on a hill observing a terrorist camp. You knew their plan was to devastate thousands of innocent people. You watched them practice use of their guns, and even may have seen a form of torture, but when they all sat down to have lunch. One of the terrorists noticed his buddy didn’t have anything to eat. This generous terrorist cut his sandwich in half and shared it with his buddy.

In any other circumstance his act of sacrifice would be considered good.

But not in this situation. The over-arching-evil somehow negates the good.

The human race is that generous terrorist. The Bible states we are born in sin. Enemies of God. And He is just and right to condemn us because compared to Him, our meager good is like filthy rags.

And then God Himself comes as a baby to die on a cross.

That is the Christmas I celebrate.

I hope you do, too.

Over the next few weeks, on Fridays, I’d like to talk with you more about Jesus as a Prophet, Priest, and King. I hope you will join me in celebrating Christmas that is much more than trees or ornaments or presents.

Let us celebrate the real reason for the season.

A Little Christmas After Christmas

Oops about the Chicken Soup link. Here is an online piece that ran in the Salvation Army War Cry this year….

https://magazine.thewarcry.org/stories/christmas-at-our-house

Where Does the Light Come From? Christmas Meditation, Day 6

This is the newest member of our family. Kratos, a large, wolf-like animal with razor-sharp teeth, and a mammoth head. I think he loves my husband, Tom.

This morning, as the rising sun filtered through my window while all three beasts lounged on the floor, Kratos sat straight up and stared at the ceiling, transfixed. A bright light shone erratically. Kratos began to chase it not knowing the sun reflected off of his chain and projected onto the ceiling.

When he moved, the light moved.

Charming.

I’d like to continue my Christmas meditation on light. The light of the Christ child coming into a dark world shining the light of good news. Or, as others put it, the Gospel.

When Jesus began His ministry, people questioned His authority, authenticity, and heritage.

The book of John says people held varying opinions of Him. Just like today. Many thought Jesus a prophet. The Jewish leaders swore to kill Him since they believed Him a blasphemer. Others looked to Jesus for His great works and a possible free meal. Some were undecided.

John 7:41b states, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?”

What they didn’t know was Jesus was born in the ancient city of Bethlehem, just as the prophecy foretold, but spent most of His time in Galilee.

Yet, in Isaiah there is talk of Galilee in Isaiah 9:1;

“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.”

The following verse gets better.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”

Jesus is the light of the world.

He shines in my heart. How about yours?

Here is a beautiful verse from the Apostle Paul found in 1 Corinthians 4:6;

“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

The dog had no idea where the light came from–we have the Gospel written down for us in the story of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just thinking about it warms my heart.

Jesus–the perfect, innocent Savior came as a baby to pay the penalty of our sins. The wrong things we do.

He loved us that much. But we must admit we need a Savior. Admit we are a sinner and accept this free gift.

I’m pleading with you today. Bow the knee to the baby in the manger who is our Redeemer and King. I’m praying you will.

Here is a link for today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsH_V6i0N0o

Let There Be Light-Christmas Meditation, Day 5

My favorite part of the day is when the sun sets on the on the pasture in front of my house. Light slides up sturdy trees and slowly slips into the winter night. When I called Florida my home, I waited each morning as light shown from behind me through the window projecting gentle leaves on my wall.

It seems as if the seasons of my life are all filtered through some sort of light. The first Christmas with Sarah when Tom and I sat by the soft firelight gawking at our three month old in her Santa PJ’s. Sunny days on the beach talking with friends while our children splashed in the waves. Stage lights shining down as my children performed in a play. Street lights sifting through our van windows as our family headed home from Busch Gardens, exhausted and content. Light flickering through the door on our wood stove that danced on Mom’s wrinkled face one last time.

Breathtaking.

I can’t imagine a world without light.

A light stood above a lowly stable over 2000 years ago. That star pointed to the Light of Lights. Can you imagine Mary and Joseph peering at The God of the Universe, resting in star-sifted light, lying in a stable.

Let me take you through a few New Testament passages that have to do with light;

“After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’  When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.  But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” Matthew 17:1-8

The disciples never really understood the light when it happened, but they never forgot that day. After Christs’ death and resurrection, the light of the Holy Spirit helped them comprehend what they had experienced.

Take a look at this verse in John 8:12;

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

So far I haven’t put up any lights in my house, but I have The Light in my heart.

Jesus came to give us life and light.

Beautiful.

The song for today speaks of what Mary might have thought at the birth of her Son. Take time to enjoy it.

 

 

Go Tell it on the Mountains, Christmas Meditation Day 4

When I lived in Florida, a hill consisted of six feet or greater. Our property in North Carolina is at twelve hundred feet. I walk down steep inclines to feed my chickens, and if I drive to town, the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking.

So to prepare our hearts for Christmas, I’d like us to visit the prophet Isaiah. Here are a verse to meditate on today.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” Isaiah 52:7

I always wondered where that song came from.

Let’s turn over to the New Testament.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:8-12

The best news ever was pronounced to lowly shepherds on a lonely hillside by majestic angels.

What was the good news?

A Savior, a Redeemer came to rescue sinners like me. Like you.

You may wonder what sin is. It’s not just doing bad things like murder, adultery, and stealing. It is also not doing the good things you should do.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17

It’s not living a life of faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

The Good News of Jesus Christ is that there is hope for us. A life that doesn’t fade here on earth, but a life spent with Christ that goes on forever.

Now that is something to shout about.

On a mountain. Or a computer screen. Or at work. Or in your living room.

Here is a delightful choral group performing this great Christmas song. It will definitely wake you up!