The Christmas Stress Factor

calm, stress, ornament This can be a stressful time of year, and active church members are perhaps even more likely to overdo it. Each of us has so many events – office parties, parades, school events, choir practice, Sunday School parties, church dinners – in addition to shopping, wrapping, and planning time for family that it can easily be overwhelming. It may be difficult to find time but we must pause and give priority to the things that are the most important. Continue reading

Christmas Scriptures

bibleThere are many well-known passages of scripture that make their way onto Christmas cards and into sermons this time of year. Prophesies of Isaiah and Micah foretelling the Messiah are common, and the birth of Jesus is recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. While Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ child, there’s a lot more going on than just a birthday. The incarnation is about God robing himself in flesh. Emanuel is God with us, and the New Testament has much more to say about the incarnation than it does the night it happened.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20, ESV)

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Here with Us

If you want to know how much God loves us, look in the manger. If you want to see how much God hates sin, look at the cross. 

Joy Williams is a celebrated Christian singer/songwriter. She released Here with Us in 2005. Some how, some way, I had never heard it until last year. The video above combines her song with images from The Nativity and the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth. Christ coming into the world is cause for celebration, but don’t loose sight of the fact that… he came to die. Continue reading

Social Media Christmas

Happy Monday was long enough already and I didn’t want to just stick this in at the bottom. Here is an imaginative take on what the incarnation might have looked like on the pages of social media (i.e. Facebook). Props to the brilliant folks at Igniter Media.

Happy Monday – Merry Christmas!

I thought about letting Happy Monday take a week off.  But I have some friends working retail, which I have done on Christmas Eve before myself.  Some of you may have miles to go before you sleep, and perhaps, just maybe, some of you are braving the malls today for that last minute gift.  I also have a pic or two left that won’t keep until January.  So, Happy Monday.  Merry Christmas.  Take a moment sometime and keep first things first.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”  -Galatians 4:4-5

Remember Harley riding Santa?  This seems only fair:

grinch

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Happy Monday

Happy Monday turns 20!  No, not years.  This is the 20th post titled Happy Monday.  It’s been five months of helping get your butt out the door with a smile on your face.  Okay, on with the show.

hap mon, dogs play christmasEver see the painting Dogs Play Poker?  I call this Dogs Play Christmas.  I can’t believe they have wise men but no sheepdogs; or at least a German shepherd.  What were they thinking?!?  Continue reading

For Jews and Gentiles

JehoshuaA couple of weeks ago, our Sunday School lesson focused on how the first Christmas was for a Jewish audience.  Joseph and Mary, the inhabitants of Bethlehem, and the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’ birth were all Jews.  Jesus came first to his own people, knowing he would be rejected, all to fulfill God’s plan.

This week we looked at Christ’s birth for Gentiles.  Consider these words of Simeon, who met Jesus at his dedication at the Jerusalem temple:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)

It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ in his lifetime.  Notice that when Jesus was only weeks old, Simeon recognized he was both light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel.  Sometimes we get this funny idea, even if we don’t put it into words, that throughout the Bible God sort of rolls with the punches.  Sometimes we make it up as we go along, but that doesn’t mean God does the same.  He didn’t come up with the plan of salvation after Israel failed to keep the Law.  And offering salvation to the Gentiles was not some sort of plan B when the Jews rejected Jesus.

God knew all along, and the birth, life and death of Jesus were all part of his great plan.  The birth of the Christ is good news for all mankind.