Christ is the greatest gift of the season. Christ is full of grace, hope, love and truth. Help us make room in our hearts for your dwelling place. Make us your peacemakers, lights shining in the darkness. Amen.
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 the shepherds 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 our 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.”
Come worship God’s Word in flesh.
Christ welcomes all from every tradition, and people new to faith.
Christ welcomes new friends and familiar friends.
Christ welcomes every age and every size, tone and culture, every sexual orientation and gender identity, every socioeconomic station, relationship status, political belief, ability and challenge.
Christ welcomes believers and questioners, and to questioning believers.
All are welcome to pray and praise, celebrate and sorrow, rejoice and recover.
God nurtures us in love and we are made whole.
Christ welcomes you to worship. Amen.
Are you blue this Christmas? Does your heart feel torn apart?
Did you notice the season of advent is blue?
Advent is the season of expectant waiting. The world waits with anticipation the arrival of a savior to free them from sadness, illness and death.
Let’s take a moment to study two very different biblical sisters at the heart of Christmas in Luke 1:
Elizabeth Pregnant with John the Baptist
Elizabeth (well along in years) became pregnant (with John the Baptist) and for five months remained in seclusion. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” (v. 24-25)
How would you feel if you became pregnant long after child-bearing years? Would you be joyful?
Last night at Bible and Beverages, we talked about another sister whose pain often gets overlooked.
Mary and the Birth of Jesus Foretold
(v. 26-38) In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
How do you think you’d react if an angel appeared to you? Would you feel blessed or be worried you were crazy?
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
Do you find these words comforting? Can you imagine being the mother of GOD?
How does the church treat unwed pregnant teens? What are your thoughts?
How can you help Mary this Christmas?
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Wow! Even before he was born, John the Baptist announced the arrival of Jesus. The Holy Spirit came upon both of these women to proclaim our Lord’s arrival.
Incredible biblical women!
I love reading these passages at least once a year before Christmas to remember that Jesus is the greatest gift.
Are you feeling blue this Christmas? Are you grieving or sad during the holidays?
If even the mother of our savior was troubled during this time, then it must be okay for us to have questions and fears as we await his return.
These verses remind me that God has a plan, the Lord will fulfill his promises and his kingdom will reign forever.
Remember our tears are a testament of our love and our need for Christ. You don’t have to hide your pain. You are not alone. Tis the season to be blue.
While in Bethlehem, the time came for the baby to be born, and the mother of God gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them with family or friends.
Lord, wrap us in your comfort and love. Make sure there is always room in your heart and arms for us to rest. Amen
How does Christ comfort you?
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.” Luke 2:14
Warning: STOP reading if you LOVE Christmas, look forward to it every year, believe it is the perfect time of year and are sad to see it go. This post is not for YOU.
To everyone else, Christmas is stressful. Peace is hard to find in line at a department store.
Finding the perfect gift isn’t always possible with a heart filled with grief.
It is a stressful time of year keeping up with the Jones or St. Perfect down the street, running from demons and pretending to be happy when the bank is empty, the heart is heavy, the sky is dark and the well is dry.
Peace may be absent. It failed to show up and chaos took over where we hoped love would grow.
Every year my husband and I counsel couples and people struggling during Christmas. Peace is at the top of their list but Santa must have them on his naughty list.
Sometimes we counsel each other because even pastors and their families can become casualties during Christmas. Disagreements may separate us around the altar.
Drop chaos and pick up love.
Read the Christmas story in Luke 2 or Matthew 1. Christmas started with a poor couple having a baby in a smelly barn with animals and poop. No one invited them for Christmas dinner. But Christ, the ‘perfect’ gift, showed up anyway.
And God celebrated with the greatest party the world ever saw (or missed). No matter how many twinkle lights we put up, it will never compare to the first, the only and the perfect Christmas.
Unlike the exodus from Egypt, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, God never tells us to celebrate or even remember Jesus’ birth. Did Jesus have any other birthday parties during his time on earth? The bible doesn’t say.
While guilt is a very popular Christmas gift, it’s not biblical. Don’t worry – we can’t screw up Christmas! The cross will always be there to save us. The cross is an indestructible gift that can’t be torn, broken or taken away. It’s called grace.
Grace couldn’t be defeated. Our living Christ embraces us. We are never alone at the dinner table with crazy relatives, in line at a department store or in the bedroom. When our hearts cry out for a savior, Christ is born. Peace. AMEN!
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.” Luke 2:14
Warning: This post requires action. Anyone desiring peace this Christmas or next or sometime in the future will need to raise the white flag and end the war on Christmas.
How do we end a war? Stop fighting! It really is that simple. While tug a war can be lots of fun on a playground with eager participants, it isn’t fun around the dinner table, in line at a department store, at the alter or in the bedroom. Seriously, drop the rope!
Please read to the end before forwarding this post to whatever goblin is robbing Christmas.
Christmas is a stressful time of year for just about everyone regardless of their faith. No one enjoys having the same rope thrust at them year after year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day by strangers and people claiming to love them.
I know lots of folks who just LOVE Christmas and claim it is the perfect time of year. They look forward to the season and are sad to see it go. This post is not for them. They can STOP reading.
For everyone else, the bible assures us that the perfect Christmas – the first Christmas – happened a long time ago. The ‘perfect’ gift has already been given. And no matter how many twinkle lights we put up, it will never compare to the first Christmas.
Even pastors and their families have become casualties during these Christmas wars.
It is a stressful time of year keeping up with the Jones or St. Perfect down the street, running from demons and pretending to be happy when the well is dry.
Every year my husband and I counsel couples and individuals struggling during the Christmas season.
And my gift is always the same to each – drop the ropes and pick up love.
Read the Christmas story in Luke 2 or Matthew 1. Christmas started with a poor couple having a baby in a barn with a bunch of animals. While we assume they had lots of family in the area, no one invited them for Christmas dinner.
God went all out celebrating the birth of his son, but the bible doesn’t share any other birthday parties for Jesus.
And unlike the exodus from Egypt we’re never told to celebrate or even remember his birth.
While guilt is a very popular gift at Christmas, it’s not biblical. Don’t worry – you can’t screw up Christmas! The cross will always be there to save you. It is an incredible safety net that can’t be torn, broken or taken away. It is called grace.
Grace that couldn’t be defeated by death. It rose from the dead leaving an empty tomb. Our living Christ embraces us. We are never alone at the dinner table with crazy relatives, in line at a department store or in the bedroom. Christ won the war. Peace. AMEN!
Christmas: Bill O’Reilly and Sara Palin vs. Jon Stewart . . . and Pope Francis? by the Unexpected Pastor
The War on Christmas: The Yule Logs in Our Own Eyes by the Unexpected Pastor