O Holy Night
The big note! Hit it, and it’s divine! Miss it, and it sticks out to everyone. I feel like that about much of my life. There are key moments when I have the opportunity to really do something well and make a difference, but often come up a little short. I feel like my weaknesses stick out and are obvious to everyone around me.
Paul says it best in Romans 3:23-24. We all have shortcomings. We all need a savior. Christmas is the celebration of the Holy Night when perfect Jesus came into our imperfect world. He hit all the right notes for you!
The build up to Christmas often feels like the building momentum in this classic Christmas carol, O Holy Night. We know the big note is coming, and we’re cringing at the thought of missing it in front of everyone. Will the house be clean enough for your mother-in-law? Will the present be good enough for your spouse? How will our family look in the Christmas photo and card we send out to all the family and friends? For many, the Christmas season highlights our weaknesses and shortcomings. Like missing the big note we feel like everyone can see what’s wrong with us. The Holiday season can make us feel like our issues are on display for all to see.
They are! But, instead of focusing on our weaknesses this Christmas, let’s use them to point to our Savior? This Christmas can be an opportunity to display TWO important facts. 1) We all have our issues that need forgiving, but more importantly 2) We have a perfect Savior, Jesus! This Christmas can be an opportunity to celebrate that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved by God. He already loves us. He already knows our weaknesses and sends Jesus to save us. Everyone has weaknesses. Let’s make sure everyone has a Savior!
Joy to the World
This week we’re all going to need a little joy. We’re entering 52 weeks since the horrific events at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT. December 14th will be marked by the stories of near misses, the accounts of brave teachers and first responders, and the gut-wrenching feelings of emptiness and loss. What kind of world do we live in anyway?
It’s a world filled with sins and ever-growing sorrows where thorns and curses infest the good. Into this world comes the King who rules with truth and grace. The one who counters hate with love, sin with forgiveness, and death with life. Joy is found in Jesus alone.
Isaac Watts wrote this Christmas Classic based on Psalm 98 for a different time of year. He wrote it for the end of the Church year when the Church looks forward to the Second coming of Jesus. It’s a hymn of praise to the One who will come to overturn all the sin and death and bring about a new creation. Graves will be opened! Children will rise! Jesus will reign for eternity!
During this week we’re all going to need a little joy. It’s not about covering up the sorrows and pain, but looking forward to a better future. A future filled with the wonders of Jesus’ Love!
I laughed the first time I heard that Andrea Boccelli and Mary J Blige were going to sing a duet. Could there be two more opposite and mismatched artists? Boccelli, the famous Italian opera singer, and Blige, the R&B/Hip Hop star are contrasting talents to say the least.
Then I heard the song: What Child Is This? It’s genius! Two opposites are brought together to sing a song about two opposites coming together! What Child Is This is a commentary on the fact that in Jesus we see the meeting of several paradoxes. God and man are united in Jesus! A virgin gives birth! The King of the Universe is born a peasant! Life comes through the cross!
What an amazing combination. God and me. That’s the most amazing thing about the coming of Jesus, isn’t it? He chose to unite Himself with ME! What an odd combination it is!
Some Children See Him
Close your eyes and picture the baby Jesus lying in His manger bed. What does He look like? Or, better yet, WHO does He look like? In our day of instant facebook uploads it is hard to imagine a baby being born without a birth picture available to dissect and determine whose nose He has and which side of the family he most resembles. Jesus is true God begotten of the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the virgin Mary. His divinity was hidden in His humanity so that human eyes see a baby, but eyes of Faith see the savior.
Children (and adults!) around the world today are getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Some children see him with curly black hair, others with blonde hair and blue eyes, and some with yellow or reddish toned skin. They’re all correct! They’re correct because Jesus came for ALL! Through one man sin came into the world, but thanks be to God, through one baby comes salvation for all people.
The day after we said goodbye to Nelson Mandela we get to hear a Christmas Carol about kids of all colors united by faith in Jesus. Skin color has no effect on our salvation. Jesus came for ALL!
As we prepare to celebrate the fact that Jesus came as a baby in Bethlehem we also look forward to the day He will come again. Just as those Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in that manger in Bethlehem, the prophecies speaking toward His second coming will be fulfilled. Then everyone will recognize Him! Philippians 2:5-11 directs our attention to this amazing truth that the baby born in insignificant little Bethlehem will come again and everyone will recognize Him as the King!
Today we all see Jesus through our own eyes of faith, but someday soon we’ll see that it’s not that Jesus looks like us, but that we all get to look like Him!
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
I went outside to bring the trash to the curb and noticed that everything is brown. We have leafless trees and a muddy yard scattered with some unraked tan leaves. It’s quite ugly. I’m waiting for a nice coat of snow to cover it all. There is something about that new blanket of freshness that covers over the past and gives me a sense that all is right with the world again.
Today we listen to a winter classic. It’s not your traditional “Christ”mas carol since it has no specific connection to the birth of our Savior, but it does make me think theologically. Read Isaiah 1:16-18 to see why “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” makes me smile deep down within.
Just as the snow covers over the death of fallen leaves Jesus covers over the death of our sins. His coming means that my sins are paid for. There is a fresh, clean, and new beginning in Him! Like the kid dreaming of waking up to a snowday I look forward to waking up to a new day in Jesus, except the forgiveness of sins is no dream.
Giving was so much fun yesterday I thought we’d continue the theme again today! Here are TWO versions of Little Drummer Boy for your listening pleasure. Jars of Clay offers an alternative feel while Pentatonix sings the hottest Carol going in 2013.
The roots of bringing gifts at Christmas run deep. Santa Claus is a late comer on the gift giving scene. The original gift givers were the Wisemen of Matthew chapter 2. Read about them here: Matthew 2:1-11
Giving gifts was a basic part of their worship. It continues to be an essential part of our worship today. Unfortunately the offering in many congregations feels more like an intermission than part of the main event. The sermon is over and the Lord’s Supper is about ready to be served. In between do we really need a stretch break?
Consider your giving as an essential part of your worship life. In giving to God you show your trust in His Fatherly divine goodness and mercy. Giving to God places Him in the position of honor in your heart and life. Give today! Give tomorrow! Give generously!
And, in case you missed it, you can give to support an incredible Food Packing event @ MLC in January.
The 12 Days of Christmas
It’s Giving Tuesday! Somebody somewhere came up with this day as an essential counter to the self-gratifying consumer-centric Black Friday-Cyber Monday celebrations of greed. It’s good for me to give, and why not find a day to celebrate the basic idea of making someone else better by sharing the gifts you’ve been given by God?
In honor of Giving Tuesday here is one of the best giving Christmas Carols of all: The Twelve Days of Christmas. There are many great renditions including the Muppets complete with Miss Piggy’s overly dramatic Five Golden Rings, but this version from Roger Whitaker is my favorite. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you look to make Giving Tuesday a blessing for someone else. Maybe a gift for Messiah’s upcoming Feeding Children Everywhere food packing event would work? You can donate here: Feeding Children Everywhere: Jan 25, Lynnfield, MA.
Giving generously actually helps me counter the ME-centeredness of my life. It changes my perspective. It focuses my attention on someone other than me. It helps me to live out a thankful life in response to Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to me! Give today! Give tomorrow! Give generously!