Posts Tagged ‘Nativity’

Gentle Caroling

December 19, 2012

And now, for some soothing Christmas music….

Angels We Have Heard On High (Sixpence None the Richer)

Away In A Manger (Celtic Woman)

Breath Of Heaven (Amy Grant)

First Noel, The (Natalie Cole)

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (Julie Andrews)

Mary Did You Know (Trent DeWhite)

Oh Holy Night (Celine Dion)

Silent Night (Sinead O’Connor)

What Child Is This (Mercy Me )

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Mary, Did You Know?

December 16, 2012

Poignant Christmas video I must share, by CeeLo Greene:

Mary Did You Know….

Not Ready To Let Go

December 30, 2011

Today is December 30th.
I’m still hearing Christmas hymns on the radio.
AND I LIKE IT!

Christmas is simply hard to let go of.
I’m not talking about the frenzy of decorating – shopping – wrapping – cookie ing – shopping – visiting – shopping – parties – etc.

I’m talking about the PERFECT part of Christmas.
Remembering a big miracle in such a small child.
Remembering a humble couple grappling with the responsibility of raising the Son of God.
Remembering that we would all remain lost without this event.
Remembering the Perfect Love that decided this should be this way.

Of COURSE we don’t want to let it go! Of course the Christmas hymns linger for another week!  Why would we want to forget that God loves us puny humans THAT much! The greatness of the Love, the process to save everyone, the willingness of Jesus to humiliate Himself for us so readily, just to keep us from being swallowed by Satan’s evil…

For a month or two we have Christmas bombarding our heads each year. And for the week afterwards we wean ourselves off the intensity of the greatness and the wonder. Christmas reminds us of the beginning of our Salvation.

No other holiday in the United States evokes such a feeling of “let down” that needs such a weaning. Think about it:
The media  doesn’t continue to play patriotic songs  on the fifth of July.
Nor does the media care so much about leaving the Thanksgiving holiday behind.
Valentine’s day is forgotten by February 15th (except for the stores steeply discounting their leftover merchandise).
Even Easter is off by the wayside the day after….and how many Easter hymns are recognized by the general public anyway? (And yeah, Easter should be a bigger deal too, but that’s another post for another time)

But CHRISTMAS…That one is definitely a media feast — and I’m not talking about the commercial stuff. Christmas in the United States has the hymns all over the radio for the entire season and then some; even on the non-Christian radio stations. The television stations have Christmas movies all over the place; classics and newbies, all bespeaking the sense of love and miracles that is the common thread in Christmas, even through New Year’s Day. Newspapers feature Christmas stories related to charities, churches, Christ, and children.  Church members practice their lines for Christmas plays, and lawns display Nativity scenes to commemorate the momentous occasion.

And all of these decorations, displays, hymns, and stories don’t stop immediately the day after Christmas.
No.
Instead, they slowly wind down. In truth, we really don’t want to let it go so fast.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

Christmas.

December 25, 2010

Today is Christmas!

What does that mean?

Yeah, of course most of us know that Jesus Christ really wasn’t born on December 25th — after all, shepherds in Bethlehem’s latitude wouldn’t be out watching sheep in a cold, frozen night; the sheep would be sheltered, as would the shepherds!

But….since scripture gives us no specific birth date for Jesus, and Jesus is the best thing that happened to mankind since creation, it stands to reason that we’d set aside a day each year to celebrate his coming to Earth to save us.

And celebrate we must!

We never deserved Salvation. We cannot earn it. We cannot negotiate for it. We were a cursed creation due to the presence of sin — and sin cannot stand in the holy presence of God. There was absolutely no way we could solve this problem.

But God was able to solve it for us:
Take a sinless man who didn’t deserve to die  (and therefore didn’t deserve death because only sinners deserve death), and have him voluntarily die. Because he didn’t deserve the death, he didn’t die for himself. AND….because he didn’t die for himself, he could only die for others.
Others, meaning those who are sinners.
And Jesus did just that.

BUT…in order to do all that, he had to become the sinless man to begin with! In order to truly become a man, he had to become a part of mankind. This is why he had to be born of a human; conceived of the Holy Spirit of God and a human female. I am not suggesting that this happened sexually — God is too omnipotent to need to do it that way. If God can create Adam without a human sexual element involved — and Adam was fully human — surely he could do this again with Jesus!

And, on one crazy night, there was a couple traveling into Bethlehem. A poor carpenter and his heavily pregnant wife, traveling from far away because some pagan king decided to hold a census: The rule was that every man had to go to his city of birth to register for the census. The poor carpenter was born in Bethlehem.

As my pastor pointed out in our Christmas Eve meditation, this poor wife was trapped into this situation: She was nine months pregnant and she was forced to travel with her husband  for 4 days to Bethlehem. *
They didn’t have cars, trains, or airplanes.
They had a donkey, if they were lucky.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when they arrived in Bethlehem there were no rooms available in any inns anywhere! (most likely because so many others were also coming to Bethlehem for the census!)
And, as this is happening, she goes into labor.
Imagine her husband’s distress at this situation!
Here his wife, the mother of the Saviour, is going into labor, and he can’t find a decent place for her or the child!
A man HATES to fail to provide for his wife — this must have been torture for him!
The best he could do is a stable; a barn for storing beasts of burden.
How awful for him!
But he did his best; she didn’t give birth out on the street, or in a field.
And at least she and the baby were sheltered for the night.

As far as we can tell, she didn’t complain.
She was right there with him as he tried to find a place for her.
She saw how long and hard he tried, place after place.
She wasn’t oblivious to his fight for her wellbeing.
So when they were finally offered the barn, she probably didn’t give him a hard time about it.
At least she and the baby were going to be sheltered.

Now she was trapped in the situation of giving birth to the Lord in a dirty, smelly, unequipped, stable.
But since she had been carrying God’s son all this time, she must have known that God wouldn’t let something bad happen to them.
Why would God take her this far just to drop everything? That doesn’t make sense!
If God was okay with the stable, then the stable it would be.

And while all this crazy childbirth in a stable stuff was going on, God sent angels to disclose the news to a bunch of nobody-shepherds —  The Bible doesn’t even give their names!

Yeah. Lowly shepherds.
Did you know that, in those times, shepherds were considered to be so unreliable in Jewish society that they were the only class of people that weren’t allowed in a court of law — even if they had witnesses to an event?!
That’s right.
Shepherds were that low. And yet God chose them to be the first to know and see!

Remember, God doesn’t see how mankind sees.
And this initial, angelic announcement to the shepherds supports that.

God sent His son to rescue the lowly and the damned. This is why His son was  born to lowly parents, in a lowly place, with lowly shepherds as their first visitors. It wasn’t about pomp and grandeur, riches and palaces, status and fame — it was all about humbling himself so that we may have life through him.

And access to this life is not impossible: All that is required is that we believe and live according to that belief.
Nothing more.

Thank you God for sending us a Saviour to rescue us from the damnation of sin.
Thank you Jesus for being willing to be that Saviour.

Let us never forget that Christmas is all about JESUS — for without his birth we’d all remain damned, and nothing else would matter.

*It is generally taken that a “day’s journey” in scripture is about 20 miles or so. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, and had to travel to Bethlehem — an 80 mile journey. That translates into about 4 days.

Shepherds In the Night

December 22, 2010

Taken from Luke 2:8-20

It is a serene, starlit night. Your flock of sheep are quietly sleeping in the field, and you and two of your fellow shepherds are quietly chit chatting amongst yourselves.  You talk about the big she-wolf that that was prowling around the neighbor’s flock last month. You talk about how your son took his first step yesterday. You talk about Amir’s wife who is due to give birth in a few months.

The night is cloudless. As you all chit chat you are also continually looking out into the field,  quietly thanking God for the moonlight to help you peer through the darkness. You can see your sheep dog patrolling the perimeter of the flock. He’s a good dog. You can also make out the silhouettes of the other three shepherds who are keeping watch on the far side of the field.

You don’t mind the overnight shift, it’s a wonderfully quiet time of peace and tranquility — except for the occasional wolf or thief anyway. Time passes slowly, and you start thinking about the flatbread and figs that you brought for your overnight supper. Nobody can make a seasoned flatbread as well as Miriam does!

In the midst of your thoughts a sudden commotion rises amongst all the shepherds, even the ones on the far side  — Look to your left !

You turn and see the most unbelievable sight you ever saw!

A mighty, glowing angel with a magnificent spread of wings is standing at the edge of the field!
And the great, glorious light of the Lord began to fill the air all around them, engulfing them in it as if it were daylight!

You shepherds are utterly terrified! What does this mean???!!!

And the majestic angel holds out his hand and  speaks in his  powerful voice:

DO NOT BE AFRAID! I am here to proclaim to you good news of great joy for all people! Today, a saviour who is Messiah the Lord was born today in Bethlehem! You will find this child, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger!

You are dumbstruck — you don’t know how to react to any of this! And as all of you stand there, paralyzed in confusion and fear, you are still trying to soak this all in when SUDDENLY the whole entire field, and sky, and air is filled with a multitude of other angels! Each one just as brilliant, and grand as this first angel! And together they are proclaiming in unison: Glory to God in the highest! Peace on Earth!

And just as suddenly, they are GONE.

And the night is again dark. And quiet. and serene.

The shepherds from the far side of the field come running over to you and your little group, and you’re all chattering all excitedly:

Did YOU see THAT!
Nobody’s gonna believe this!
We gotta go to Bethlehem!
Who’s gonna watch the sheep?!
We won’t be gone long! The dog is out!
Oh my nerves! ANGELS!

And you all hurry off as fast as you can — you’ve just got to see this special child that the angels spoke of!

You enter Bethlehem and immediately start making a search of all the stables and barns.
You guys take that side of the street and we’ll take this side!
Hey mister —  have you seen a couple with a baby in a barn?
Hey guys I found them over here, c’mon!

You all hurry over to the stable door and quietly peer in the door. And there they are, the mother, father, and a baby laying in the manger, and a few other people who were tending to the mother and baby. The father quietly motions the shepherds to come in. He whispers “Hi. My name is Joseph, and this is my wife Mary. This is her son, Jesus.”

“We know! whispers one of the shepherds. “We were out tending our flocks, when all of a sudden the field was filled with angels and brilliant light! They told us of this Jesus in a manger, and how he is the hope of mankind! They told us to come see him, and so immediately abandoned our flocks, and here we are!”

You can see the mother, Mary, quietly considering all this. The look on her face reveals that she will treasure this news of yours in her heart forever.

You all gaze at the sleeping baby. Wondering over the huge miracle in such a small child. His little fingers. His soft wisps of hair. The mighty Saviour who came to save.

After a while it’s evident that Mary is getting very tired. She needs her rest, it’s been a big day for her. So you and your fellow shepherds say your goodbyes and leave the stable.

And you are all still SO excited! All the way back to your field you cannot stop chattering on about the night’s events and praising God the whole time! Angels! The Saviour! Prophecy fulfilled! This is the one night you will never forget! The night the Saviour came, and you lowly shepherds were the first ones to be informed, and by ANGELS no less!

Hallelujah!

The Christmas Story

December 20, 2010

I heard on the radio today that 28% of families do NOT read the Biblical Christmas Story out loud during the Christmas season!

We think that’s just an awful number, so we decided to post the entirety of the Christmas Story right here for those who don’t happen to have a Bible at home: (Taken from the King James Version on Biblegateway.com)

Matthew 1:18-2:14 (King James Version)

18Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

20But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

22Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

23Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Matthew 2

1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

Luke 1:1-55

Luke 1

1Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

5THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,

9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.

10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.

15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.

17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.

19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.

20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

39And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;

40And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.

41And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

45And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 2:1-20

Luke 2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


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