Miracle in a Manger

babyWhile 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.

Luke 2:6-7

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?

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Seeking Peace for Christmas

Peace Love Christmas“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.

Death, suicide, illness, depression, abuse, poverty and other sins wage wars far greater than an atheist, Muslim or Jewish person’s failure to wish a Merry Christmas.

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!

Peace on Christmas

Peace Love Christmas

“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.

Death, suicide, illness, depression, abuse, poverty and other sins wage wars far greater than an atheist’s failure to wish a Merry 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!

Related Articles:

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

Wings of HOPE

Those who HOPE in the Lord
Renew their strength
They soar on wings like eagles
they run and not grow weary
they walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Faithful Counselor restore HOPE.  Renew strength. On my knees you lift me up to soar like an eagle on wings of HOPE. Amen.

BOAST in the Hope

Purple Advent CandleTherefore, since justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the HOPE of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

HOPE Prepare our hearts,  O Lord,
by your divine LOVE,
Christ your Son promises PEACE
Restore FAITH
Courage to accept GRACE
We Boast in the HOPE of your glory. Amen

HOPE

Advent HOPEI wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my HOPE Psalm 130:5

Lord of the weak, tired and everyone else –

We call upon your mighty name.
We look forward to celebrating with you at your table.
Stir up the spirit of hope, peace, joy and love.
Give us the strength of your hope.
Fill us with anticipation.
Let our excitement overflow.
Inspire us to dance and sing your praises.
Bring us together.
Pour out your grace, health and generosity.
Amen.

Anna the Prophet

The bible has many female prophets who speak for God in the old and new testament. Anna, the prophetess joins us in Luke 2 when Mary and Joseph take their new forty day old circumcised newborn named Jesus (the name given by the angel before he was conceived) to the temple in Jerusalem for purification and to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law.  They bring a holy offering, a pair of doves or two young pigeons as prescribed in God’s Law.  The offering of birds instead of a lamb notes their poverty. Doves

Although Jesus is God, his parents still follow the rules and make their offering.  God doesn’t give himself a free pass as many in authority do.

Anna the prophetess was a very old woman, married only seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers.

Anna seems content to be a widow and subject to the generosity of the Temple community. This is interesting since scriptures usually encourage us to pity widows, orphans and spinster dependents. Anna’s implied joy is an inspiration making me wonder about the rest of her story.  Was she a victim of violence?  Abused as a child?  Is her life in the temple much easier and blessed than her childhood and years of marriage?

Luke describes her as a prophet.  Anna was given the honor of speaking for God which gave her respect and authority despite her gender. She had a close personal relationship with GOD.

Anna showed up at the temple, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.  Anna was a voice of hope, pointing to the gift of Christmas – Jesus!

Thank you Lord for coming to us, following the rules and calling women like Anna to be your voice in the darkness.  Bring us your peace. Amen