Within the next 24 hours people all over the world will begin celebrating the culminating event of the advent season — Christmas Day. Most of us will be giving gifts, receiving gifts, singing, feasting with family, and spreading joy and happiness throughout the day. Since before the Thanksgiving holiday many of us have been looking forward to the big event of Christmas Day. We have been shopping, wrapping, being (hopefully) kind to our neighbors, helping out at shelters and soup kitchens, and sharing the Christmas story with our children. But what happens on Dec. 26th? Does it all have to end? Do we stop sharing the Christmas story with our children? Do we stop giving to others? Do we stop spreading peace, joy, and reconciliation to others? Do we stop believing in miracles? Do all these things get put in the attic with the tree ornaments until the next Christmas season or could we maybe put the tree ornaments away but leave out all the goodness of the season for the whole year.
Each day the need for peace, joy, hope, reconciliation, random giving, and helping exists. The Christmas story is about the birth of Christ; but the story doesn’t end there so hopefully neither will our “Christmas” spirit. Christ went on spreading and being goodness daily. He went on feeding others, clothing others, listening to the problems of others, meeting needs, and spreading peace, hope, and joy to everyone in need of it. As we unwrap our gifts and slowly pack away the decor of the season, maybe we could “forget” to pack up our Christmas spirit, our giving hearts, and helpful hands. Maybe this could be where the story starts. Maybe “Joy to the World” doesn’t have to be just the song sang at the end of most Christmas programs just before the curtain closes; but maybe it can be part where we are just getting started. Let’s not lose our Christmas high after we have dinner Christmas evening…Let’s spread Joy to the World — Christmas Day and everyday!
During the Christmas season, you often hear people complaining about its paganism and its lack of Christ; yet Christ is all throughout Christmas. Christmas is the season to give, to praise, and to let your light shine. It is the season to uplift someone else, the make their days merry and bright. Santa Clause, Decorations, Caroling at the heart of the matter are all about Christ. (Even Christmas trees were a by-product of a Christian showing the powerlessness of a pagan God). I have seen signs saying, Keep the “Christ” in Christmas; but no matter how hard some may try, there is no taking Him out of it! Christ IS Christmas!
Christmas Giving and Santa Claus
We call him Santa Claus, even Jolly Ole St. Nick, but he was known as St. Nicholas. The rich man who gave all he had to the poor to meet their needs. The rich man who gave bags of gold to prostitutes and returned children to their families. The rich man who went around meeting needs of the less fortunate. When we think of how good it makes us feel to give, imagine how happy a man who was constantly giving felt. Imagine how St. Nicholas must have had a jolly heart – a merry heart. Today, we give him reindeer and we over indulge the story but at the heart of the matter, Santa Claus, is merely the memory of a good hearted Christian — Bishop in fact –whose kindness, generosity, and love for others demonstrates what Christ desires from us — At Christmas time and everyday. Rather than remembering Santa Claus as a big belly man shouting “Ho, Ho, Ho” let us remember that the man for whom he sensationalizes was a Christian, who gave all he had to others; a man who took great joy in spreading joy.
Christmas Carols = Songs of Praise.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord! Is that not what we do when we sing beautiful songs of the season like Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him, Little Drummer boy, O Holy Night, Joy to the Word? What are Christmas Carols but a Joyful Noise Made Unto Christ. Through Christmas Carols we sing about the beautiful birth of Christ, Honoring Baby Jesus with gifts, and how He is a Joy to this World — the good news of great Joy. During Christmas time, it’s amazing how all people sing these songs (and praise Christ) and do not even realize it. It’s the one time of year when atheists and agnostics can get so caught up in the “season” that do not even realize that even they too worship the Lord our God.
I agree — we have to keep Christ the center of Christmas in our conscious minds; but regardless of whether we are conscious of it or not, Christ will always be front and center. It is after all His Mass (Christ’s Mass).
For the past week, I have been praying for a few people. I have prayed for people I know personally and some I have never met. Some prayers can only be answered by God; yet some can be answered by God’s angels here on earth. Angels do not have to be heavenly beings but they are also defined as persons of exemplary virtue. We can be God’s angels here on earth. We can be the exemplary examples of Christ right here on earth. We can pass along the blessings bestowed upon us and be the blessing someone else is needing, seeking, and praying for. This season, continue to pray for the miracles of Christ to be bestowed upon others. Recognize that many need a blessing only God can send. But also recognize that some of our prayers for others are needs and wants that we have the capacity to fulfill.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son. This holiday season — what can we give?
When I think about Christmas, I think about the greatest gift we could have even been given – the gift of Christ. Every year my mom (still at this age) asks me what I want for Christmas – my siblings ask me too. At a point in life where my greatest wants and needs cannot be filled by their in-store or online purchases, the answer to that question is tough. What I want or need, they cannot get for me even though they have the greatest intentions. Christmas gifts and wishes cannot be really given our parents, siblings, friends or Jolly Ole St. Nick – that’s why they are called Christmas Gifts and Christmas Wishes. They are wishes and gifts that we (at the deepest heart of the matter long for from Christ). So this season how can we give the most meaningful gifts to those we love? This morning in my time of devotion, I came up with the best gift we can give – it’s the gifts of prayer for the things our loved ones most need and want. The things not offered by Amazon, the things not made in a workshop (or a sweatshop seeing as how capitalism today is), the things that cannot be purchased on sale at Groupon, the things that no man has power over — they are the things that we call miracles born out of prayers.
This season I challenge each of us to pray fervently, unceasingly, and daily for the seemingly unattainable needs and wants of those around us. I pray that we would see the miracles of Christ through these gifts that we are giving each other, our friends and families, and even our enemies.
May our families, homes, friends, and the world be blessed!
Call it the Miss Manners in me but I am always writing thank you notes. Not just for gifts but just to show extreme appreciation for love and consideration. Lately I have had so much thanksgiving in my heart for others. I am so appreciative of their love, concern, and kindness. As I began to ponder the love of others and thought of the unconditional love, unwaivering concern, and the unfailing kindness of Christ, I wondered why I have written thank you notes to everyone else over the years and never written a conscious note of thanks for the one who has provided for all my needs — emotionally, physically, materially, and spiritually. Why have so many friends received thank you notes over the years yet my most consistent, reliable, honest-even-when-it-hurts bestie has yet to receive one?
Is it because Christ is more than my bestie? Is it because he is my Father? It sounds good but recently I sent even my parents a thank you note. Not because I needed to or because it was expected or because I had not said the words, but because my heart was so overwhelming appreciative for their love and even coddling when their eldest, most independent child needed it most. This thanksgiving, I will not only tell God thank you for the countless blessings, countless lessons, countless growth but I will take the time to write in indelible ink my most precious thank you note yet.
Be thankful, Be blessed!
I remember back in Kindergarten we were taught if we don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. I think that statement is absolutely wrong. I have learned that there is always something positive to say. In every area of our life, God gives us powerful life affirming messages that we can speak into our lives and those around us. Instead of fussing, cussing, or stressing — be a blessing — to yourself and others through the words you speak. When you do your mood changes, your circumstances change, your families change and thus everyone you come into contact with can change as well.
Cool Life Affirming Words For Every Day Realities:
- Spouses, Kids, or Coworkers irritate you first thing in the morning — Thank you God for this day, your mercy is new everyday (Lamentations 3:22-23)
- Cranky — My heart is joyful (Prov 17:22)
- Someone makes you want to just strangle them — Bless you (and mean it) (Romans 12:14)
- Husband says something you find absolutely foolish 🙂 – Baby you’re excellent (Psalm 45:2 NIV – You are the most excellent of men and you lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.)
- When other’s don’t appreciate you — I will not become weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9)
- Not enough time for your passion — God makes room for the gifts He gives me (Prov. 18:16)
- Laid off — God is my protector and provider (Prov. 18:2)
- Negative self talk — I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
- Not feeling sexy, desirable, or “in the mood” — I am my husband’s beautiful doe and he finds me exhilarating (Prov. 5:19)
There are so many others — It is so amazing how relevant every word of God is to our lives. Feel free to share others!
I woke up this morning bright and early to get a few early hours of study in. I am in a training class and have a course that I must complete by Dec. 31 and it seems that I keep putting it off. So often we start something that we need to accomplish, that would benefit our lives or even the life of others but they sometimes requires us to go to bed late, get up early, stretch ourselves, and work harder than we really want to so we keep putting it off. As this year comes to a close, maybe we should not start thinking about all the cool goals we will set for next year, but rather concentrate on all the cool goals we started and have yet to finish.
For me, it’s management courses and certs and a book I started at 27, maybe for you its another course, a home-based project, weight-loss goals, a service project, or a building business. Whatever it is — if you started it — FINISH! (Ecclesiastes 7:8 Finishing is better than starting).
Funny that as I read my bible this morning, I thought of a quote actor Will Smith said in the movie, “After Earth”. He told his son “danger is real, yet fear is a choice”. Sometimes we start on journeys, a slave to fear before we even encounter danger. We anticipate the danger. We are encapsulated by the fear. The thoughts of the “what ifs”, the “what happened before”, and the “how could it be any different” are all just thoughts. Then this morning I read “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4).
Be Fearless; Be Blessed!
For weeks I have questioned if God would fulfill his good promises to me. I mean why would he? He already took two great promises from me. Would he do that only to fulfill it later? Why?
Sometimes it is so hard to understand why things happen. It is so hard to fathom how hurt could end up being anything but just awful distressing pain. It’s even harder to understand why and how the God who loves you so much, who you had relied so much on, would let you down.
Relying on God is not just about relying on Him to provide what we want when we want it but it’s relying on God to see us through our good situations and our difficult ones. (Tough). It’s relying on God to know what’s best and to provide for us how and when He thinks it best. (Ouch – like not in our time and according to our very-well thought out plan?) We were after all created for God’s purposes, not our own. While we are fulfilling his purposes, and delighting in Him, He did however promise to give us the desires of our heart.
Often times I have heard that a set-back is just a set up for something great. It sounds good — catchy — even cliché as many times that I have heard it. But, maybe it is more than a catchy phrase and Christian cliché. I had plans, thought out plans, and yet apparently God had different ones, but just maybe God’s plans were not to disappoint me, hurt me, and strip me of my hopes and desires. Maybe it was to build me up, increase my gratitude for those around me, and place me in a better position to welcome my future. Everything God does or allows had a purpose. Like the rain and the snow, sometimes it is inconvenient, messy, and even gets it the way, but it waters the earth and makes a way for life to grow and bloom. Likewise, the circumstances, the heartache, the grief, even sadness that God sometimes allows, while inconvenient, emotionally and physically messy, and completely outside of the plan we had, will cause our lives to grow and futures to bloom into something so much better than we expected. Maybe what we consider a set -back is really a “re-set” preparing us for the set up. I am learning to accept the re-set, appreciate the growth that precipitates out of it, and awaken to the faith-requiring realization that God will (in His time and His way) fulfill his good promises to me.