Christ, the Savior

Merry Christmas! As we honor the birth of Jesus Christ, may we humbly remember the real meaning of this day. Amidst all the wrappings and gifts and feasting, the laughter and time set aside for family, may we never lose sight of the reason: Christ, the Savior, is Born!

Image result for sacred Merry Christmas

The Day Before Christmas

Image result for Mary and Joseph walking toward Bethlehem before Jesus' birth


I have often thought about what it must have been like the day before that first Christmas.

Mary must have been exhausted.

She was just hours away from giving birth, and it had been a long trip.

Did she ride the whole way on that little donkey?

Did she walk sometimes, just to ease the ache in her lower back?

How often did they find a place where she could stretch out on the ground, wrapped in her robe, and try to sleep a bit?

When they got to Bethlehem and saw how crowded it was, did Mary sigh with weariness?

Did Joseph wonder if they would have to sleep in the fields with the shepherds?

Did he feel the weight of responsibility for this miracle baby of which the angel had told him?

Was he struggling to believe that Mary was pure, untouched?

What an earnest, godly man he must have been. He could have had her stoned,

But instead he protected her and cared for her and the child.

Mary’s time had come. The pain in her back became more persistent.

She was so young, and I’m sure she had talked with her mother and her Aunt Elizabeth about what to expect.

Still, having that first baby is a time of excitement along with anxiety.

How long did she labor?

Maybe not too long, since shepherds came to visit that same night.

I hope it was an easy birth. None of the women in her family were there, as was customary.

Only Joseph,

And the Father, the Creator of life, Who had given her the privilege of carrying His Son.

When it was over, she wrapped her beautiful Son in the swaddling cloth she had brought with her.

Cleaning Him, she gazed in wonder and profound awe at His perfect little face.

Nursing Him, she must have thought, “I am feeding the Son of God!”

And then the shepherds came, seeking the Child the angel had described:

“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

The first people to see Him, aside from Mary and Joseph, were just ordinary men.

Shepherds who worked outdoors; who tended sheep.

It is fitting that they were His first visitors, because He is

The Good Shepherd.




Sunday Morning Coffee: Back to Church

I’m feeling pretty good today.  Going to church, even going to the adult Bible study class at 9:30.  We’ll see how my back holds up with that much sitting on a church pew.

Two big days coming up:  Christmas, next Sunday.  I always love it when Christmas is on Sunday, although maybe not so much when I was little and it seemed like an eternity before we got to open our gifts.  For many years, though, it has just seemed so right that church be a part of Christmas Day.

I read a quote this morning that said it takes only a small group of people to change the world; in fact, that’s how it usually happens.  The early Christians in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel were surely part of a small beginning that is still making changes in the world.  Because of persecution, those early believers spread to all other parts of the known world, taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. It’s a fascinating history. None of it would have happened if there hadn’t been a Christmas Day, whenever that actually falls. We don’t know for sure.  We’ve selected December 25 to honor the birth of Jesus Christ for a variety of reasons, not all of them strictly Christian. That’s okay. The purpose is to  honor Him, and that’s what we do.

Second big day:  January 10 is finally beginning to feel like it’s not so far away.  That’s when I have the surgery to fuse my sacroiliac joint.  I dreamed about it last night, a first for me.  Mostly the dream had to do with post-surgery, and I was feeling wonderful.

I hope that dream is prophetic 🙂

This is a short one today.  We’re about ready to leave.  Have a blessed Lord’s Day, wherever you attend.  May you come away having been a blessing.

 

Fellowship

As most of you know, I’ve been pretty much housebound for the last 2 1/2 months because of my ancient and crumbling back.  Last Sunday morning was the first time I ventured out to church  in all that time.  Last night a sweet friend who lives nearby was so kind as to drive me to the annual women’s Christmas fellowship. This is always a delightful gathering, and last night was no exception.

where-two-or-three-are-gathered-recoveredblog

My daughter was the hostess. She always decorates her home beautifully at Christmas, so it was the perfect setting. There were maybe 35 or so women there.  We sang, enjoyed a gift exchange of Christmas mugs. We were blessed to hear a missionary speak to us about how to talk to others about the Lord. We had yummy cookies and cocoa, coffee, or tea.

And we had lots of fellowship. I was enjoying talking with a couple of other women, but at the same time, I was observing little groups scattered throughout the family room, kitchen, and front living room/dining room area, all visiting, laughing, and enjoying each other. Sometimes the conversations were serious, too.

One thing I’m sure of:  No one was engaged in gossip or complaining. It was a totally upbeat gathering, women seeking out the friendship and companionship of other women.

Many welcomed me from my long exile, and expressed that they were praying for me and would continue to do so through my January surgery.

God’s Word tells us that where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there. His presence was definitely there last night.

Bits and Pieces, None of them Related to the Other

It’s a late Sunday afternoon,a  gorgeous October day that makes my heart squeeze.  The light here in October is just perfect.  The blue of the sky intensifies, and the colors are amazing.  It’s a paean of praise to the Creator, and a reward to us for enduring the dog days of August.  I truly love fall here in my corner of PA. 

*********************

I just wiped up the kitchen, after loading up the dishwasher.  I have a new kitchen, which any of you who have been with me for a while know all about–probably in too much detail.  I really love my countertops. Granite, in a pretty pattern called Kashmir White–or maybe White Kashmir, I don’t remember. (This is not my sink–just a stock picture I pulled of Google images, but the cabinets below are pretty much the same color as mine.) They clean up so quickly and easily, and they’re very forgiving.  Right now, I’m enjoying a cup of orange tea sweetened with a teaspoon of honey (gotta watch those carbs!) as I listen to the dishwasher  do its dreary chore for me.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a dishwasher that really works, and I love it.  I think even Terry is becoming convinced it was a good idea.  The kitchen’s not quite finished because there is lots of outdoor work Terry took care of in the good weather, but he’ll get back to it when he can’t be outside any more.

*********************************

I’m also thinking about my church this afternoon.  Our pastor and one of our deacons are visiting missionaries we support in Mozambique, so the assistant pastor and a couple of other men are filling the pulpit. We have an unusual number of biblically sound, gifted-to-teach men in our church, and I love it.  We are blessed, for a relatively small church, with so many godly men who lead their families well.  My son-in-law is one of them.

*******************************

And speaking of kids (that was a pretty good segue, don’t you think?)  I really love going into the church on Sunday and seeing three bright and shiny faces smiling at me. “Hi, Grandma!  Is Grandpa here?”   All my grandchildren hold their own special places in my heart, and they will only understand that when they are grandparents themselves, if the Lord tarries. 

We got news yesterday that our South Dakota family will be here for Christmas!  Can’t wait!  Can’t even think about it too much or I  just get too wound up.

My grands are growing up so fast!  The oldest is 18, and the youngest is almost six. There are nine of them, with a batch in the middle who are all within a year of each other in age.  I can’t wait to get my hands on them 🙂

*****************************

I’m sitting in a new chair in my office here at home.  For several months, we’ve been trying to find a chair that adjusts and supports my wonky back, since I spend a good bit of time in it.  I think we may finally have found one.  It has good lumbar support,

and adjusts to fit my stumpy little legs. So thank you, Lord, for helping us find the right one and making it within our price range. The test of how good it is?  After I’ve been sitting for a while and then I need to stand up.  So far, I’m making that manuever without sounding and feeling like a ratchet wrench.

**********************************

Along with many of my contemporaries, I’m fighting the Type 2 Diabetes scourge.   I’ve started swimming a couple of times each week, which should help my back, as well.  I’m counting carbs, and doing pretty well at losing some weight and realizing how much I was overdoing it on the carbs before.  We drove past a Dunkin’ Donuts on our way home from church, and there was a line of cars circling it like an army of ants.

“Go ahead!” I hollered, to Terry’s utter amazement. “Stuff your faces with all those empty carbs, give yourselves diabetes and a belly ache!  I’m driving right on by!”   Truth?  I’m green with envy.  I love donuts.  I want donuts. I’m not getting any donuts.  If I think about it, I get really cranky.  So in a little while I’ll go have a small apple with some cheddar cheese or a little peanut butter, and I’ll convince myself it’s just as tasty as a donut.  Yeah.

But don’t I feel better now that I’m getting some exercise and staying away from all that sugar?   I don’t know.  Maybe.  Ask me again in January after I get my next A1C number.

For those of you who are not diabetic, be thankful you don’t know what  A1C means. And lay off the donuts.

I think I’m done.  See you tomorrow 🙂

Merry Christmas!

This is possibly my most-loved Christmas song.  I think it captures the awe, the wonder, the holiness of the birth of Jesus Christ for all who were involved, from angels to shepherds, wise men to Mary and Joseph.  I’m posting it tonight as my Christmas gift to you.  Merry Christmas, and may God bless you as you remember His most wonderful gift to us.

Why December 25th?

The other day my chiropractor asked me why we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec. 25.  I told him that I wasn’t sure, but that like other Christian holidays, there is some kind of tie-in with old pagan celebrations. So this morning I looked it up, and I was right but I didn’t know the details.  Here’s a really good description of how it happened:

http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA68/why-do-we-celebrate-christmas-on-december-25

Regardless of whether or not we’re celebrating the actual date of Jesus’ birth, the important thing is that we honor  Him and remember the incredible sacrifice He made. The Son of God left the unimaginable realms of heaven to be born and to live as a man so that He, perfect, sinless, holy, could die in our place and rise victorious from the grave to provide our way of salvation from our sin.

That is the true meaning of Christmas.  All the other things that happen at this time of year are nothing but tinsel and glitter. If we aren’t careful, we’ll allow the miraculous birth of Jesus to be obscured by the jingle of the cash registers all across the land.

I’m taking a short sabbatical. You won’t hear from me here tomorrow, so I’m wishing you all a very warm and wonderful Christmas. God bless us, every one!

Random Thoughts on the Holidays

The word holiday, as I’m sure you know, is from the two words holy day. 

So why is the Christmas holiday such a family-centered time?  Well, probably because that’s the center of the day/night on which Jesus was born.  Joseph, Mary, the Baby.  Family. 

But there were also guests. Shepherds came in from the fields to meet the family and worship the Babe whom the  angels had announced so gloriously.  Later, the Magi came from a far Eastern country to bring expensive gifts, and to worship the King, Messiah, whom the Old Testament prophets had foretold and whom the Wise Men believed was the fulfillment of that prophesy.  So the small, new family quickly expanded to include strangers who became friends, and perhaps, later, followers of Jesus. 

The Jews were very family-oriented, partly because they depended on one another during the Roman governance of their land; partly because they always had been encouraged, throughout their history, to center on family and on God.  It was God, after all, Who first established family with Adam and Eve and later their children and grandchildren and the development of tribes and cultures across the world.  

We all seek connection with others.  Family is the foundation for that connection, and families who reach out to include those who are no blood relation  are wonderful examples for their children. 

We have loved having our Minnesota family here this week.  The cousins enjoyed each other on Christmas Day, and will do so again before the Minnesota crew begins the drive back home. Though they see each other infrequently, they look forward to being together and after a few minutes of uncertainty, they’re having a great time, as if they’d known each other all their lives. 

Certainly, the birth of the Savior was a family event.  Once He began His public ministry, He developed His family of followers.  Before He completed the work the Father had sent Him to do, He established the Church to become a family of believers. The Church provides fellowship, edification, comfort, and spiritual growth when it is operated along biblical principles. People who wouldn’t ordinarily know each other are brought together in the Church and become fast friends, caring for one another as family should.  For many, it is the only family they have because they have moved far away from their blood families, or they have been orphaned through other circumstances. 

My parents were very good about having friends/acquaintances in our home for special meals, holiday celebrations, and just good fellowship.  When I was very small, we were often included in a wonderful family for the big holidays–Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July—and considered them our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I remember being very surprised and disappointed when I realized we weren’t truly related.  What a wonderful heritage it is to be given the gift of “relatives” in that way. 

Yes, Christmas is about family.  Jesus was born into a family.  He had brothers and sisters, and cousins, uncles, and aunts.  No wonder Christmas is such a family occasion.