Don’t miss Christmas!

Christmas!  Right after Thanksgiving, my home was decorated for the holiday. My Alexa devices spill the sounds of the Season throughout my house. Yes, it’s Christmas and in spite of my age, I’m loving it!  The story is well known to me, the reason we celebrate is familiar but still compelling.  I anticipate the hour in worship together on Christmas Eve, one of the year’s highlights for me.  Oh yes, I know that by January 1, I’ll be spent, ready for a few gray days of winter and the usual slowdown after the holidays.

Some, and I do not plan to be one of them, will celebrate the Season and miss out on Christmas. How so?   They will go to parties, gather at family dinners, exchange gifts with friends, decorate their homes – and mostly forget Jesus, replacing Him with Santa and parties.

Please do have fun this Christmas. Enjoy the decorations of tinsel and blinking lights. Listen to the songs of the Holiday – secular and sacred – joyfully. Buy gifts that are appropriate and affordable. Just do not forget the why of it all!  Millions, even Christians, will – to all outward appearance –  forget Jesus. Christmas will be a Santa holiday extravaganza. Don’t be one of them. I do not have any issues with the whole “Santa Claus” deal. It’s fun, but despite his ubiquity, he’s not ‘it!’

The good news is old, yet new, news – “Jesus, the Savior, is born!”

OK. Here it comes, predictably, from this guy.  Yes, I am going to tell you that you need to plan to attend worship services. Presenting ourselves to the Lord, alongside of others, creates opportunities for the Spirit to work in us in ways that we cannot discover alone.

Also, I want to urge you to build ‘down time’into your schedule, for prayer and reflection.  Schedules get full with concerts, kids’ programs, invitations, family visits, travel, shopping … tired, yet?  Prioritize making first things, first. Wouldn’t it be a sorry thing to announce a birthday party and not acknowledge the person who is the reason for it?  Get up a little earlier and spend some time in prayer and meditation. Turn off the TV a bit sooner in the evening and find a few moments with your Advent devotions. Got a houseful of noise?  Escape to your car and soak in the silence, listening for the voice of the Spirit.

Do not confuse an emotional experience with true worship. Meditate on the Truth. Christmas is the story of God come to us. Human religions teach us to reach up to God, to try to make ourselves worthy of the Divine. It’s a futile effort, because we are broken, because we are incapable of ascending to the Heavens.  But the Truth is Grace. The message is Love. The result is Salvation. 

Take this Scripture to heart. “To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan—this rebirth comes from God. So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.” (John 1:12-14, NLT)  Yes, this is Christmas!

Most of us will come to the end of December weary, but if our efforts have had a purpose, if we blessed others with loving encouragement, if we have renewed our Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love through devotion to Christ, our tired will be a good kind. Focus and then re-focus on the story of God becoming Flesh, a baby born in a manger who brought the Word to us.

The word from the Word is a fact. Believe and live. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10, NIV) “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:15-16, NIV)

Lord, fill our minds with the Love of Jesus. May we live in faith so that the Hope of Heaven pulls us to Your ways. Amen.

 (Video of this blog at this link)

Angels We Have Heard on High

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o’er the plains;
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
Say what may the tidings be;
Which inspire your heav’nly song?

Come to Bethlehem and see,
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See within a manger laid,
Jesus, Lord of heav’n and earth;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
With us sing our Savior’s birth.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

© Public Domain

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