And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20Continue reading →
There is no command in the New Testament to celebrate Christmas. Jesus is not disappointed over losing “his day” to Santa Claus or commercialism or anything else. He never asked for a day but rather we assigned him one. What Jesus wants is a place in your heart not a date on your calendar. He wants to bring each of us into a personal relationship with a loving God. He tells us to abide in him as he abides in the Father.
Suing the local government over the right to put up a nativity scene doesn’t “keep Christ in Christmas.” The secular society never had Christ to begin with so there’s no keeping him there. We as believers must keep Christ in our hearts, in our homes and in our church. And we must do so year round not just when Santa is at the mall. That’s not to say we can’t celebrate Christmas. We put up a tree in our home (after Thanksgiving), hang stockings, watch Rudolph on tv and put out milk and cookies for Santa. We also light the candles on the wreath as we keep the weeks of Advent. I can’t do anything Hallmark Channel showing Christmas movies in October but I have a great deal of control over what verses we read, hymns we sing and prayers said during our family devotions.
Don’t be surprised or offended that the world is not interested in Jesus. The manger reminds us that he came into the world. The cross reminds us that, for the most part, the world rejected him. Do good deeds, share good news. Badgering unbelievers with Christian images isn’t going to do anything for them. Show them Christ. Be salt and light. And like I said, that continues into January and beyond. If your Christianity can be stored in a box in the attic, maybe it’s time to revisit the Gospel.
Yesterday the weekly Happy Monday post invited everyone to begin celebrating Christmas. Just a couple of thoughts, I will try not to labor the issue.
1) Happy Monday is meant to be encouraging, uplifting and often times funny. Sometimes funny that teaches a lesson in the subtext, sometimes funny because smiling and laughing are good for us. Take everything with a grain of salt. Continue reading →
In years past I have devoted the month of December to blogging nothing but Advent and Christmas. There have been a few of those in recent weeks. One reason I have been posting fewer things on The Master’s Table is that I’ve been posting in other places, such as my church’s website. So if you’re looking for more stuff, let me suggest the following. Continue reading →
I can’t believe plain red cups are the biggest trending story in social media this week but like I’ve said before no news is good news. So let me put on my Christian blogger hat and do the dance.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you probably recognize former pastor Joshua Feuerstein from his viral video. He infamously pranked Starbucks into selling him a $4 cup of coffee. The evangelist is outraged over Starbucks “war on Christmas” that produced this year’s plain red holiday cup. The lack of snowflakes, doves and trees led Feuerstein to declare that Starbucks hates Jesus. The video describing the prank – that’s a screenshot on the left, no I’m not linking to it – has been viewed 14.5 million times since last Thursday. He told the barista his name was Merry Christmas so they would have to write that on his cup. He’s been drinking the Charlie Sheen Kool-Aid and considers this “winning.” Like I say, he tricked them into selling him coffee. They never saw it coming. Continue reading →
I had a few ideas in mind but nothing written down when I wrote The Christmas Stress Factor. One thought that missed the post completely was the financial stressor. I’m not talking about maxing the credit cards buying presents for every man and his brother (that stress usually hits in the middle of January when the bills arrive). I’m talking about all the good causes that will ask during this time of year. Continue reading →
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 →
There 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)
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 →