1. Scholars have debated for years the actual date of Jesus' birth. Sam Storms (pastor and one of my favorite authors) recently addressed this topic, When was Jesus born? As he begins his attempt to answer this question, he offers these words: "It’s amazing how often people get caught up in the debate over when Jesus was actually born. Although we should never be dogmatic on this point, the biblical text does provide us with a number of clues." The whole article (don't sweat it ... it is not all that long!) is definitely worth the read!
2. Our staff was asked by our communications coordinator to write a brief paragraph for a blog post she was working on for our church website. She told us she was looking for a Christmas reflection from our childhood and a connection to some truth or insight about Christmas. So if you have not read the blog on the church website (which I encourage you to do as several others contributed to the post), here is my contribution:
As a youngster, our Christmas morning began with stockings that mysteriously appeared in our bedroom overnight. So when we woke up (which tended to be VERY early), we would be occupied (for a time) with the little things we found wrapped in our stockings (so Mom and Dad could get a little bit more shut eye!). As much as we enjoyed our stocking gifts, we knew the big gifts were still to come (and at that point, Mom's and Dad's sleep was history!). And sure enough, when we ran down the stairs, there, under and around the Christmas tree was a huge pile of gifts begging us to be opened! This reminds me of our experience as Christians. God has given us a foretaste of heaven in the blessings he has given us in this life (think stocking gifts!). But the really big gifts are still waiting for us in our eternal home of heaven. Oh what a day that will be when we climb the stairs that will lead us from this life to the next! It will be like Christmas Day all over again .... and again .... and again!
3. This week, Sharon and I watched a couple of network holiday specials. We heard songs about Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and how Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. One special pointed to the Christmas favorite, Twas the Night Before Christmas, as "THE Christmas Story." Although we did not watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (which was aired this week on ABC), I do know from watching it in the past that it DOES include Linus reciting from the Bible ... giving the account of the birth of Christ. So at least one show this week got it right! I don't know about you, but this saddens me. For many, Christmas has become Xmas as Christ is nowhere to be found! But this fits with something I shared with our church family a few Sundays ago from Wikipedia. Here is what this often consulted website had to say about the true meaning of Christmas:
The "true meaning of Christmas" is a phrase with a long history in American pop culture. It first appears in the mid-19th century, and is often given vaguely religious overtones, suggesting that the "true meaning of Christmas" is the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. But in pop culture usage, overt religious references are mostly avoided, and the "true meaning" is taken to be a sort of introspective and benevolent attitude as opposed to the commercialization of Christmas which has been lamented since at least the 1850s.
Now, given all of this, we as followers of Jesus who know that the true meaning of Christmas is all about God loving us in such a way
that he sent his one and only Son to become one of us ... live among us ... and eventually to die for us ... have a wonderful opportunity at this time of year to point people to Jesus! One way to start the conversation would be to ask people what Christmas means to them. Then offer to share what Christmas means to you and so many other Christ followers around the world!
Thanks for stopping by ... Merry Christmas to you all and may God bless us, everyone!