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Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

Emmanuel

“And they shall call him, Emmanuel, ‘God with us.'” (Matthew 1:23b)

It’s Christmas, in case you haven’t noticed.  In August, I went into a small locally run store and found Christmas ornaments for sale.  One whole aisle had been set aside for Christmas decorations.  After I thought about it for a while, I understood it.  We have a lot of out-of-state tourists during the summer months, and many of the decorations were Maine oriented.  Who wouldn’t want a black bear, lobster, or fishing ornament for their tree!

Even though I shake my head at Christmas carols being played even as early as the beginning of November and the decorations starting to appear even before Halloween, I understand the merchants desire to make money.  But I also know that, as repetitive as it becomes, we keep forgetting the meaning of Christmas.

I noticed that yesterday when I mustered up my courage and drove to the Maine Mall.  Between the traffic, driving nearly the entire parking lot to find a place to park the car, walking half a mile just to reach an entrance (I don’t really mind the walking, though), jostling my way through the crowds, and waiting in line, I remembered why I avoid the shopping stuff both on Black Friday as well as the few weeks before Christmas.

Christmas has lost a lot of it’s so-called magic for me.  But then, magic isn’t what it’s all about anyway.  Christmas is about God-with-us, “Emmanuel.”  It’s a reminder that God came to earth to be one of us through Jesus, the Christ.  Everything about Jesus was countercultural; he turned things upside down and inside out to get the point across that God loves us and is with us – Emmanuel.

Who would have thought that a baby born to poor parents and living in the scandal of his mother being unwed when she conceived, the scandal of living in Nazareth which wasn’t recognized as a place where the Savior of the World would live and grow up, and the scandal of most everything he did when we touched lepers, ate with sinners, and associated with tax collectors and prostitutes!

Jesus still causes a scandal when he asks us to share God’s love even with our enemies.  We, as the Church of Jesus Christ, cause a scandal when we reach out to help others, provide food for the hungry, water for the thirsty, visit the sick and imprisoned, care for the needy, give clothes to the naked, support homeless shelters, and love the unlovable.  Emmanuel – “God with us.”  Emmanuel – “God working through us.”

Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to all people on earth!  Merry Christmas – blessed New Year!

Merry and Blessed Christmas!

God so loved the world . . .”  (John 3:16a)

God loved the world in this way:  God took on flesh to become one of us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus lived our lives, died our death, and rose to save us from sin and death.  I’m writing this on Christmas Day and reflecting on the world that God loves.

There is plenty of bad news, and I don’t even need to list it for anyone to know what we are bombarded with in the media every day – throughout the day.  What is the GOOD news?

For me, it’s the spirit of generosity that we see at Christmas, and not only at Christmas, but all year long.  It’s the caring and love that people show to others, even complete strangers.  It’s the baskets full of food donations at the two churches I serve.  Every Sunday as part of their offering, people bring in some non-perishable item that is taken to the nearby food pantry.  It’s the ways in which people stop to help someone else without expecting anything in return.

Christ is still in this world that God loves so much.  Christ still works through those of us who believe his teachings and seek peace, love, joy, and offer hope even when the situation seems hopeless.  So, in spite of the horrible things that are going on in some parts of our world, Christ is still at work.  Our job is to try to make a difference, to be peacemakers, to give a helping hand, and to offer the love of Christ to each other and others.

Merry Christmas!

Angels with Crooked Halos

The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.  The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid!  Look!  I bring good news to you — wonderful, joyous news for all people.  Your savior is born today in David’s city.  He is Christ the Lord’ . . . Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God.”  Luke 2:10-13 (CEB)

This Sunday our Sunday school children will present the annual Christmas Pageant.  In all the years, I have been a pastor, I have never seen a “perfect” pageant.  Something always goes awry:  the shepherds trip over their robes, one of the Wise Persons (we often have both genders for the Magi) doesn’t show up, several angels have trouble keeping their halos upright or even on their heads, and the young girl who stands in as Mary doesn’t always know how to switch from being pregnant to having the baby.  Sometimes the boy who plays Joseph is very resistant, but he does it anyway with a frown.

Does this matter – no.  We love it all.  Why?  Because our children remind us over and over again of God’s gift of a Savior in Jesus, the Christ.  They reenact the nativity story over and over again, and some of the girls can’t wait to play Mary.  No, they aren’t perfect, but then that is a reminder that none of us is perfect.  We live in an imperfect world and do imperfect things.  Isn’t that the whole point of a Savior, anyway?

Jesus came to live our lives, teach us about living in God’s ways, give us a new perspective on what God’s love is all about, and set an example for us.  He died our death, even though he was innocent.  And he was raised from the dead so that we might have forgiveness of sins and life eternal.  The hope of Christmas is that God’s gift is for everyone and is for life.  In spite of crooked halos, many of us become angels to someone else who needs a friend or support or a little extra TLC.

We live our faith in the world to the best of our ability, confident that God will work through us in spite of ourselves.  May this Christmas be one when we remember the point of God’s gift of life in Christ.  May our Christmas be more joyful because of this great gift.  Merry Christmas!

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