Category Archives: Christmas

Divine Love Came

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I originally posted this in 2007 and then again in 2008…after five years, here it is again!  Hope it speaks to you this season.  Merry Christmas!

About eight pounds of God in the flesh.

What an amazing thought! It seems almost sacrilegious. For many it is so wrong they consider it blasphemy.  But for others of us, it is the whole point of our faith.

Eight pounds of Divine Love came to be a man to dwell among us. To experience human life.  To become like us in all things, so that, at the right point in time, He would completely satisfy His Father’s Law.

Eight pounds of God lying in a cow’s trough in a dirty stable. He left the splendour of His home on high and allowed Himself to become helpless, in need of constant care. He emptied Himself of all His Power to experience our weakness. The essence of God coupled with the weakness of man. It baffles the mind.  It’s too big to comprehend.

But, He did it.

Christmas is the beginning of His story on earth.  Many people stop at that story and never contemplate the other experiences He had while walking among us.  Growing up I would always give myself an “out” for not living up to Jesus’ example. I mean, He was God…of course He could get it right. But, you see, that misses the point.  He was also fully man and had to experience life as a human.

Since we are flesh and blood He partook of the same. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation”  ~Hebrews 5:8,9

So what, exactly, did He experience besides the stable and the crucifixion?

Before the coldness of that night, the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” Mary and she conceived. Jesus experienced life in the womb and the pains of labor. None of us can remember that experience, but what do you bet, He can? He lived in a poor family.  Turtledoves were offered for the sacrifice when Joseph and Mary presented Him at the temple. A lamb was the usual sacrifice unless it could not be afforded.  He was circumcised as the Abrahamic covenant ordains.

Joseph was a working man, a carpenter. Jesus grew up in a working class family with brothers and sisters. He knew what it was to have to endure siblings and, being the oldest, He probably had to babysit. As was the custom, He would have worked alongside His father as a carpenter. On occassion He must have hit his thumb.

He followed the customs of His time and God’s Law given through Moses. He went to Jerusalem for Passover. Once, at the age of twelve, He stayed behind at the temple. We usually hear that He was there amidst the teachers, both listening and asking questions. The teachers were amazed at His answers. But notice that He worried his parents.  “Son, why have you treated us this way? Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.” He knew what it was to be in subjection to parental authority – even though He knew more than them. How many of us have rebelled, thinking we knew more than our parents? Jesus actually did know more and yet He continued in subjection to them. He continued to grow in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man.

At the beginning of His ministry, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. He underwent intense and very personalized temptations. Satan attacked Him at His most vulnerable points. He was hungry, having fasted forty days.  He must have been in pain. I’ve only ever fasted for 24 hours and let me tell you, it was hard!

He chose not to relieve His hunger by turning the stones into bread. He chose not to succumb to the temptation of “showing off” His supernatural powers by having the angels rescue Him. He gave up His chance to escape death and still have all the kingdoms of the world. Satan knew where to “get at” Him – just as he knows our weakest points. Jesus fully experienced temptations as a man.

The prophecy in Isaiah 53 tells us that He was not good-looking. He was not stately or majestic, nothing exceptional that we should notice Him. This one passage speaks volumes to me. I grew up being teased for my freckles and red hair. I felt very plain. The passage goes on to say that He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows (pains) and acquainted with grief (sickness). I live with an illness that causes whole-body pain. When I read this passage it drives home the point that He knows what I’m going through. He totally gets me!

People hid their faces from Him. He was rejected.  His own did not receive Him.  He was slandered. The scribes said He was demon possessed. His family thought He was crazy. His brothers didn’t believe Him and the world hated Him. Have you ever felt any of this? Has this ever been your experience?

He suffered deep grief to the point of death. I have been anxious but, I have never “sweat great drops of blood.”

He prayed and experienced silence from Heaven. I’ve been there.

He was beaten, spit upon, cursed, humiliated and then condemned for something He did not do. His friends all ran away from Him.  They left Him to go through His darkest hours alone. Have you ever felt abandoned, or worse yet, actually been abandoned? He understands.

God became flesh and dwelt among us.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (utilized or asserted, held onto selfishly) but emptied Himself (put aside His supernatural abilities), taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.   ~Philippians 2:5-11

Therefore, since we have so great a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  ~Hebrews 4:14-16

Yes, it’s Christmas…the beginning of His time on earth to experience life in the flesh.

Praise to the Father, the Son was obedient!  Obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason, He is highly exalted!

Wonderful Counselor.

Mighty God.

Prince of Peace.

Everlasting Father.

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O Holy Night

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OHOLYNIGHT

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

A Christmas Prayer by Max Lucado:

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord.  These children, Lord.  Innocence violated.  Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas.  But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty.  Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children


From Christmas Past

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Thanks for stopping by. 
I’m hoping one of these posts
will minister to you in this season.

Merry Christmas to All!

From 2008:

It’s Christmas!

Mary Did You Know?

Christmas Funk?

From 2009:

On This Eve of Eves

I See God in Art

From 2010:

About Eight Pounds

The Beginning

Hope Grows

Weak and Lowly

May Hope Fill You

What About That Tree?!?

Happy Holidays!

A Baby Changes Everything

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(keep clicking…eventually you’ll get to the video. i could’ve put up a different version, but this one had the most poignant video, imo.)

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what’s to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring on her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

The man she loves she’s never touched
How will she keep his trust?
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
Ooh, she cries
Ooh, oh

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can’t stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel it’s coming soon
There’s no place, there’s no room
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
And she cries!
Oh, she cries

Shepherds all gather ’round
Up above the star shines down
A baby changes everything

Choir of angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything
Everything, everything, everything

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

My whole life
Has turned around
I was lost
But now I’m found

A baby changes everything,
A baby changes everything…

What About That Tree?!?

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I love decorating Christmas trees. We’ve had an artsy tree from our first Christmas together. You know the kind where the ribbons and the ornaments all coordinate. Over the years I’ve loosened up a bit and more sentimental ornaments have been added. My favorites are the ones made from Christmas cards — intricately cut out with a ribbon attached.

I don’t really have the energy to do the decorating anymore. The last couple of years I’ve spent time drawing them for cards. That’s fun. But, as much fun as I have drawing, the cards just don’t light up the same.

This year my son decided to decorate. He did an amazing job! I didn’t even know he could. And then, to see an artsiness coming from him . . . Well, it warmed my heart.

SO yeah, I’ve been thinking about Christmas trees and what significance they have, aside from the joy of color, lights, and expressing one’s artistic side.

We have an artificial, pre-lit tree. Some people think that’s an abomination to the whole Christmas spirit. “If it doesn’t smell like pine,” many exclaim, “it’s not Christmas!”  (My son added a car freshener to remedy that effect.)

I prefer a real tree, but not a dead one. You know, the one’s we pick up at the tree lot. The ones that become more and more prickly as they decay, and the needles poke your feet if you don’t sweep daily. BUT, they do smell good, right?

I like a real one that’s still alive. Any kind will do, as long as it’s roots are intact. AND it can be added to the yard after the holidays.  (Although, if you do this every year, your suburban lot could become a forest!)

But really, in all honesty, what do these trees have to do with the true meaning of Christmas?  Is there any reason for a tree at Christmastime aside from the fun of it?  What does it have to do with the birth of Christ?  What parallels can we draw?

Okay.  Maybe the lights have something to do with Jesus being the Light of the World.  That’s a possibility.  But, it’s not original to the first Christmas.  It’s not biblical, just cultural — our attempt at finding meaning or hoping to merge our culture with our belief.  But, I’ve been contemplating the why of it all and the Christ-child we adore.

May I put forth a few points for your consideration…?

We are described in scripture as plantings of the LordOaks of righteousnessBranches from The VineTrees planted by The River where our roots grow deep and our leaves never fade.  If we could imagine ourselves as Christmas trees, what kind of tree would you be?

An artificial tree…all lit up with beautiful lights…attractive, even artsy…but not a lick of real life in you…?  You’re pretty to observe, but…fake…through and through…?

Or…a dead tree…you may still smell good, but each day you’re fading a bit more…you’re becoming more prickly, more of a mess, since you’ve been chopped down at the base…?  You don’t really know why you’re dead, but you do know real life is not coursing through your veins.

Or, possibly, a real tree.  Could you be a real tree, with life in your limbs, with your rootball intact?  Yes, you might be!  Have you come to the child who was born in Bethlehem?  He wasn’t born under a tree, but in a stable.  And you know, he didn’t decorate a tree.  Nope.  Not one.  Never did He celebrate Christmas as we do. 

Oh. 
Well. 
Did He?

What do trees and Christ have in common?

Cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree.
~Galatians 3:13

Have you come to the True Christmas Tree of Christ?
Have you come to The Cross?
Have you knelt before His Tree to lay all your burdens down? 

He came to save you.  He came to take your curse upon Himself.  He came to give you real life.  He came to graft you into the True Vine.  He came to make you a planting of His.  He came, as a baby, to experience life as a human, so that He could be our Perfect High Priest who understands all our needs.  HE came to take the curse of sin upon Himself so that you can become…

REAL. 
ALIVE. 
And rooted in Him.

He is the Tree of Life.

What about THAT tree?

May Hope Fill You

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The first week brings expectation.
Hope for the future…
A pinprick of light
In the darkness.

As Hope grows,
We long for an answer.
Life is hard. We struggle.
Will the Promised One
Come and save?

Hope gives birth to Joy.

A child is born.
A Son is given.

The long night of suffering is over…
Joy comes in the morning.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come;
But when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy…
A child is born into the world.

For a child has been born to us,
A son has been given to us.
He shoulders responsibility and is called:

Extraordinary Strategist,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

May the God of Hope
Fill you
With all Joy and Peace
As you trust in Him.

(Scriptures references: John 16:31, Isaiah 9:6, Romans 15:13)

Week three: Gaudette Week (Rejoice, in Latin)

Weak and Lowly

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The throne of God:
A cow’s trough in a dirty stable.

Christmas is the beginning of His story in the flesh. 

It seems most people stop at that story.  It’s comfortable.  It ends well.  A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, held in His mother’s arms.  And, given our sweet Christmas lullabies, I wonder if the grit of that first night is truly understood.

I’ve birthed babies, and as most mother’s will profess, it ain’t easy. Even with the medical staff hovering ’round, ready to respond at any sign of crisis, it can be a scary process. Of course, given their lack of hospitals, surely Mary was used to seeing births on the gritty side. But, when it’s happening to you, it’s a whole other story! And furthermore, she had just travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem on the back of donkey! The car ride from Olathe, KS to St Joseph’s Medical Center on the Missouri line was enough for me. I barely made it that second time!  I can’t imagine what she endured.

But, they did it.  She and Joseph, in solemn passivity, walked the path set before them.  Or, so it seems… 

Do you think they were solemn?  They may have been passive — you can’t stop the process once it’s started — but, I imagine emotions were running rampant.  The trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not a straight shot.  It would take a healthy man about four days, perhaps travelling 20 miles a day.  But, many believe Joseph was an older man and he was bringing his wife, round and ready, on the trip.  A woman ready to give birth is not at her best, to say the least.  It would have been very difficult to remain above the tense moments without uttering exasperations. Donchathink?

So.  Here they are in a little town overflowing with travellers and they can’t find a room.  The innkeeper points them to a barn, a stable, perhaps a cave, used to house animals.  He sees their predicament.  We hope he would be kind enough to put out some fresh straw and maybe give them a clean blanket.  But, nothing of the sort is described in any of the Gospels.  So.  Let’s assume kindness on the innkeeper’s part, and Mary and Joseph are made as comfortable as possible.

Until…the birth pangs set in.

Birth pangs.
What a curse!
Truly…

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children.”

Revelation tells us:
She was pregnant,
She cried out in the pain of labor
As she awaited her delivery.

From the outset of His life on earth, Jesus experienced the curse of being a man. Yes. It said the woman would have the pains, but anyone who has ever witnessed a child being born knows that child is NOT comfortable! And to squeeze through the birth canal is not always a success. Thankfully, a surgeon helped when my first got stuck. And tragically, many babies do not make it. It’s not an easy process for mother OR child. Cone-headed babies tell the story.

But, that’s not all…Revelation says:
Then the dragon stood before the woman
Who was about to give birth,
So that he might devour her child
As soon as it was born.

Not many of us have that worry.  At least, we don’t think we do. 

The Dragon.
The Serpent of Old,
To whom God said:
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.

From the beginning. 
From the outset. 
From His moment of birth,
Satan was out to get Him.

A very gritty time, indeed. 
Not at all the comfortable story we tell, the melodious carol we sing. 
This was war.  And the God who would win it for us,
Lay on His throne, in a cow’s trough.

God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise,
And God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.

This second week of Advent,
can you imagine the increased longing within Mary
as she awaits the birth of her son and her Messiah?