I never noticed that at the moment that he told viewers about the angels saying "fear not" - Linus dropped his blanket.
I'm not sure how to add a youtube video from my ipad, so...
Anyway, I'm going through Advent devotionals, and I'm reminded (again) that we need Christmas, because we need the cross more.
My daily Bible reading was Acts 4. Verses 14 and 15
But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses
We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us.
Sh'ma tells us to "hear, o Israel, that our God is One" -
Every member of the Trinity is involved in Advent - God the Father, sent God the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit to be born in a manger, in order so that He might die, so that we might live.
Our God is One
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst”
"The Case for Christmas" by Lee Strobel.
The best part of the books were
1) the interview with the historian that made the case for an early writing of the Gospels, and the book of Acts and
2) the interview with the Jewish man who set out to read the Old Testament, looking for prophesies of the Messiah, and found them fulfilled in the Jesus of the New Testament.
Other than that, a lot of the book was telling Christians what they already know. It's a good book to know and have, because it lays "what we believe and why" out so clearly.
My apartment is decorated, but it's a mess. The last 2 weeks of school are hectic.
At some point I need to start my shopping 😉
That is the question...
There was a real St. Nicholas, so it's not like we're making anything up. The challenge is to keep the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ - Christ centered.
Which is pretty hard to start with, when the day seems to be surrounding presents (stuff) and presence (people).
I would ask...what does the presence of Santa Clause add to the holiday?
Well...Santa could add the expectation of gifts (for me). Materialism.
Or he could add the concept of giving without getting. It is Santa who exists for giving with no expectation of getting gifts in return.
He could also introduce the concept of anonymous giving. As "santa", we can slip a gift under the "giving tree" or slip a $20 into the Salvation Army bucket.
Giving without "your left hand knowing what your right hand is doing".
There is a different feeling in giving without others knowing. Giving in secret makes it all about the recipient, without an expectation of a "payoff" (either physical or emotional).
Our church is participating in the "Advent Conspiracy"...No, it's not about Santa, and it's not about being anonymous. It is about giving to those in need with no expectation of return.
Consider being about "giving with no expectation" this year...
- math - counting beads and reading graphs
- following directions and listening
- fine motor skills
Three of the desigans were designed by our staff - I made the candy cane and "joy", our lead teacher designed the Christimas tree. The Santa and snowman came off the internet.
For some of our students, this was a very hard project. We started off by giving them graph paper and making them color in their own graphs (the tree and the candy cane). Some never did get it.
In this photo (face cropped out for privacy), you can see that we made the graph large enough so the student can put a bead in every square and then string them in order...no counting!
I'm putting the finished project together; in hindsight I wish I'd had string with no strectch.
Anyway...here are photos
I'm a little behind...
- Psalm 80:3
- Isa 1:27-28
- Psa. 80:19
- Psa 51:15
- Psa 70:1
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Once, a long time ago, I sat in the balcony of a church during the Christmas season. I was volunteering at my church's daycare and took a "timeout" for lunch and the quietest place was that balcony in the sanctuary.
I looked quietly at the giant wreath (horse-shoe) that nearly filled the front platform. Yet what drew my attention was beyond that seasonal symbol. It was the other symbol, the reason for His coming in the first place.
The stained glass cross, the sun shining through, was sending a kalidioscope of colors over the white ribbons on the wreath.
That has stayed with me for years...if we forget the "end game" - the cross - then Santa might as well be the reason for the season.
If the birth is not covered with blood, His blood, there is no reason to celebrate.
My family and I went to Worship Service at our church on Christmas morning and it was good.
Very good. Lots of food for thought.
The Christmas story was read from Luke 2; every other verse or so we stopped and sang a carol.
Parts of the "story" that amaze me. Not that God sent His Son (that does amaze me) - but that the second Person of the Trinity - Almighty God! came to earth in what the pastor called the "great descent"
The timing and circumstances of the greatest event in history are amazing also.
The world that Jesus was born into was under the thumb of the Roman Empire. There had been great turmoil for centuries, but only a few decades before the birth of Jesus, the Empire entered a time of relative peace, "pax Romana". Roads were built and travel was, for the most part, safe.
The life that Jesus was born into was as shameful as the death that He died. The "birthing room" was more of a cave and the "manger" was probably more like a hole in the ground.
Christ chose to start at the beginning, like we do. Why?
Through Christ, we have a complete connection to God. Christ is our only mediator; we need no other.
Through Christ, there is a radical redemption. Being reformed, I understand that "redemption", like in a pawn shop, means that He came to redeem that which was His.
And, through Christ, we become like Mary. Human, born into sin. Like Mary - a peasant girl - it makes no difference what our background is. Like Mary - unmarried and pregnant - our past doesn't matter.
Like Mary, when the Holy Spirit does His work in our lives, the seed is in us. We, like Mary, become a miraculous vessel of the message of salvation.