Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Christmas List

     I'm a list maker.  I've made some pretty sweet lists over the years, too, with columns, color coding, and notations galore.  Sometimes my lists look so good, that I don't want to mess them up by crossing things off...(wink).    So my pristine list sits there in my clipboard following me around like a personal assistant, always reminding me of what I haven't yet accomplished.

     Did you make a Christmas list?  Did the children in your life give you a nice (long) list of their wishes to make your Christmas shopping easier?   ;-)   

     I have some personal wishes of my own as my children and I will start the New Year combining our lives with my fiance and his children.  I hope each member of our new, expanded family will love and respect each other.  I hope there will be a lot of grace given, and no shortage of good food and shared laughter.  I hope the transition period will be as smooth as possible, and I also really hope all our pets get along.   : - )

     What are you hoping for this Christmas?  

     The following list of noble wishes is from a popular Christmas song:

     1.  No more lives torn apart,

     2.  That wars would never start,

     3.  That time would heal all hearts,

     4.  Everyone would have a friend,

     5.  That right would always win, and

     6.   Love would never end.  

    Idealistic?  You bet.  Unrealistic?  Probably.  But what a list of selfless wishes. You'll note that there are no electronics on that list, no clothes or jewelry, no requests for materialistic possessions.  If you've ever been in a place in your life when you pretty much had everything you wanted, you realize that "things" aren't really worth wanting, and those highly sought-after "things" don't fill up our souls or give us hope for tomorrow.  

     Some people may experience this feeling very clearly the day after Christmas, when our high hopes for Christmas are either gone or have missed the mark completely.  Some experience it in January when the bills arrive or much quicker - about 5 minutes after all the gifts have been opened.   There is truly only one "Gift" that will continue to bless you and sustain you and make your life worth living.  That's the Gift that was given to us by our Heavenly Father long, long ago... the Gift that is exactly what we need to make our miserable lives complete.

     My encouragement to you for this Christmas season is to not let yourself get carried away with giving or receiving presents, and instead of putting an unrealistic amount of expectation in something you believe or hope the holidays will provide for you or someone else, put that hope in the One who never disappoints.  Our Savior chose a very simple and humble way to make His entrance into the world.  Take away the tinsel, the wassail, the bright lights and the buffets, and what do you have?  The Greatest Gift of All.  Our Savior, Christ the Lord.  Behold Him.  Worship Him.  Adore Him.  Let your heart fall before Him and simply enjoy Him.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Philippians 4: 11b - 12NLT:  "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."

Isaiah 49:23NIV:  "...I am the Lord.  Those who hope in me will not be disappointed." silently,


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stomping the Head of the Serpent

Stomping the Head of the Serpent!

It is time to prepare for, anticipate, celebrate, and proclaim the coming of our Savior - Jesus Christ!

After this past Sunday's sermon, I have had people already report new traditions based on this season of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany!  Some are serving more, some are feasting more, and some are taking advantage of untapped opportunities that have always been available.

Please tell me how you and your family are celebrating through new traditions of Christ-focused worship!  Below is a reminder of the Christian church calendar (for more details, see the book by Bobby Gross, "Living the Christian Year").

The Cycle of Light - God making himself known

1)  Advent - We anticipate a "great light"

Isaiah 9:2:  "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone."

While the culture mounts its consuming frenzy, we wait quietly for the coming of the Christ.

2)  Christmas - Celebrate the True Light

John 1:0:  "true light... coming into the world"

John 1:14:  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"

Most of the church in the world and throughout history has celebrated 12 days of Christmas!

3)  Epiphany - Proclaim the Light  (Epiphany means "a manifestation")

John 8:12:  "Light of the World"

January 6th - Feast of Epiphany

The Cycle of Life - God rescues us from death through Jesus

Mark 10:45:  "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as  ransom for many."

1)  Lent - 40 days (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter

Humility and self-examination

2)  Passover - 1 Corinthians 5:7:  "For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed."

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the heart of the Christian year!

3)  Easter - Kicks off 50 days of Easter, ending at Pentecost - not just one day!

The Cycle of Love

1)  Pentecost and Ordinary Time

Non-festival time but not "ordinary" time; because of this we have Spirit-filled life!

Ends with Christ the King the Sunday just before Advent.

God's Grand Narrative includes us; include the celebration of this great story in your life!