God With Us

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.      – John 1:1-5, 9-14

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.     – Luke 2:1-20

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.      – John 3:16-17 

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Merry Christmas! Love, joy and peace be richly upon you this season…because He is with us!

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Okay Tree’s Up

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I’m still not very Christmassy….but this past weekend Skywalker put up the tree. I blasted a Christmas playlist from the computer. We hosted a dinner with my cousins and while sharing Christmas memories, I was reminded that Christmas shouldn’t be something one participates in once a year. All the sentiments of being compassionate and giving and generous and joyful and loving at this time of year should be lived out year round. So true. A great challenge to end off this year and start the next with.

While my cousins, who are not religious, see this season as an extra reason for family to come together and express love through gifts and meals, I cannot deny I deeply feel there is more to Christmas than a time for family and love. The obvious Sunday School answer is that Christmas is when the greatest gift of love was given to us in Jesus Christ….but what does that really mean?? My mind fails me in trying to pull thoughts together into something coherent…but I’m seeing these pieces:

  • Per Darrell Johnson (paraphrased into my understanding)- The Christmas Story with the incarnation of Christ as a human baby is wonderful, but incomplete without His life and ministry. His life and ministry is incomplete with His death on a cross as substitute for humankind’s sin. His death is incomplete without His resurrection. His resurrection is incomplete without His sending us the Holy Spirit, marking us with His seal, giving eternal Life. And this eternal life is incomplete without His second return…bringing a new heaven and new earth. All of that has to be considered with Christmas and first coming of Christ.
  • A fair number of Christian Christmas carols are sung in a minor key…have you noticed? (We Three Kings, O Come O Come Emmanuel, etc) I’ve noticed the minor keys but never thought too much about it until @revtedng pointed out that as much as we rejoice that God is now with us, the celebration cannot be separated from the reason of why He must come in the first place — to die in our place.
  • God, Almighty Creator who spoke the universe into existence, One who put time into motion, who sustains all life, lit the stars, knows each hair on my head….chose to be so humbly restricted as to come to earth as a baby, unable to control his own hands or body, utterly dependent on an unwed teenage mother, facing hunger, pain, rejection, loneliness, betrayal, weariness…so that He could one day die an excrutiating death.
  • And to come for a people who would mostly reject Him and kill Him. Even today.
  • But His coming…and death and resurrection…means that sin and death no longer have victory over us if we don’t want it to. It means there is hope! There is peace between us and God….which leads to peace between one another. If we choose it. It means we GET to choose. And how we value choice! Why would I not choose to accept such a gift?

It boils down to God extending His love. Great costly love. So I DO choose to accept this incredible gift. I will keep choosing this. And I think that is why I celebrate…and need to keep celebrating through the year. To pay it forward as a grateful recipient of such a Gift. Hmmm…the thoughts are still stewing.

Why do you celebrate Christmas? What does Christmas mean to you?

Another year older…

I got a personalized Google doodle today! That’s pretty cool….and a little creepy. But I’ll take it!

So it’s another year…
I squint at the wrinkles threatening to break loose. I sigh over the growing numbers of greys. I poke and pull at the parts that seem to hang lower than I remember. I ponder what I’ve got to show for the time I’ve been given thus far. I try not to compare with those who seem to have gotten more done. But mostly, I praise God for the road He’s given me to run…both valleys and hills. I am rich in His abundant gifts. I am blessed and I am thankful!

Looking ahead…I don’t know what’s around the bend or over the next rise. But my eyes are lifted to the hills and horizon. I know where my Help comes from. He is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He will not let my foot slip and will watch over my coming and going both now and forevermore. I fear not. My cup overflows. May I be found stronger and more faithful in Christ.

And so, I look forward to it.