Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Friday Funnies

December 15th, 2017

For Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ has a deep spiritual significance, but that does not mean to say that we don’t enjoy jokes at Christmas:

 

Did you hear about the St Michael’s School nativity play? Two children were dressed as Mary and Joseph, and making their way to the inn at Bethlehem. Meanwhile on the other side of the stage, a lad in a shepherd’s outfit was on a mobile phone calling the inn to make a reservation.

 

It was the Sunday after Christmas at Mulliken United Methodist Church in Mulliken, Michigan. The Pastor was looking getting ready to pack away the nativity scene figures when he noticed the baby Jesus was missing from the scene. Immediately, Pastor Vaughn turned towards his phone in order to call the police. But as he was about to do so, he saw little Harry with a red wagon. And in the wagon was the little infant Jesus figure. Pastor Vaughn walked up to Harry and said, ‘Well, Harry, where did you get the little infant Jesus?’ Harry replied honestly, ‘I took him from the church, Pastor.’ ‘And why did you take him?’ With a sheepish smile, Harry said, ‘Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to little Lord Jesus. I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas, I would give him a ride around the block in it.’

 

Young Andrew was watching his father, a Vicar, write a sermon for the Christmas service. ‘How do you know what to say?’ Andrew asked. ‘Why, God tells me’, the father replied. ‘Oh, then why do you keep crossing things out?’

On This Holy Night

November 29th, 2017

Christmas is a time of festive celebrations. It’s a to reminisce about days gone by, a great excuse to eat too much, sing too loudly, and spend more money than we should. Christmas can stir up intense and complex feelings (both pleasurable and painful) that sometimes take us by surprise. And for Christians, Christmas is a time of awe, reverence and wonder, when the timeless story of Christ’s birth is once again read from the Gospels for all the world to hear.

Some of the most cherished Christmas joys are found in family traditions that link one year to another with the harmony of favorite carols, the sparkle of familiar ornaments, and, of course, gift giving. Year after year, decade after decade, we delight in the reappearance of well-worn downtown Christmas lights and garlands. We are thrilled when the church sets up its nativity scene, angels, shepherds, wise men, and all no matter where we are.

But the very familiarity of Christmas sometimes causes us to overlook the most vital expressions of what should be a meaningful season. We have listened to the words of the great Christmas hymns so many times since childhood that we sometimes fail to appreciate their eloquent meaning. We have heard a hundred times about Mary and Joseph’s long, weary trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but we haven’t always stopped to remember just exactly how and why it happened. We’ve almost memorized the Bible story, we’ve sung the carols, we’ve hung the holly, and we’ve roasted the turkey. When it comes to Christmas, we’ve done it all…. including missing it by being too busy with the festivities.

Somewhere along the way, many have lost touch with what happened on that holy night, the heart of Christmas itself. With that in mind I hope the following weeks posts remind you of the beautiful, inspirational and profoundly spiritual good news of Christmas that are sometimes eclipsed by the gleam and glitter of today’s celebration.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas: Manger

December 23rd, 2015

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

Manger

I have a co-worker expecting a child any day now. I’m pretty sure she expects her baby to be wrapped in a sterilized blanket and placed in a sterile crib with all precautions being taken to minimize the amount of germs the child will in contact with.

But Mary had none of this and laid Jesus in a feed trough for animals. Jesus slept his first night in the sheep’s manger. Can you imagine the shepherd’s astonishment when they arrived to see what had been announced to them?

Of course, this wasn’t Mary or Joseph’s choice. They tried to get a room at a local inn, but there were no vacancies. Today there might be a red neon light flashing a big NO VACANCIES creating a pool of light on the parking lot (or snow).

There are times when no is the hardest word we hear. Yet Jesus has seen NO from us since the very beginning. Turn on the news and you’ll see many people don’t even want to consider him during Christmas, instead turning this time into a winter holiday. Even in the life of a faithful believer, there can be situations where we say, “Stay out of that part of my life….Keep that door closed.”

So Jesus was turned away and stayed laying in the manager, the only place available. He’s not protected from the world, but lying in it.

I pray we open our hearts and minds for Him this Christmas and into the New Year, not excluding Him from any part of our lives.

Christmas: Shepherds

December 16th, 2015

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. Luke 2:8

Try to imagine if you were God and could announce the arrival of humanity’s Savior. Would you send yours messengers to some shepherds out in the fields as they whiled away their nighttime watch? Why not send angels to Jerusalem instead? Or to the megalomaniac King Herod? Or Caesar? Wouldn’t that be an amazing night’s work if you were able to change everything with a few simple words?

God chose the shepherds. Shepherds were rather rough characters at that time, who performed the tedious tasks that many others were unwilling to do. They appeared ragged, smelled like goats or sheep, and were used to sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

The Bible mentions extraordinary shepherds frequently. David, the “shepherd king” of Israel, had cared for his people just as he’d cared for the sheep when he was a boy in the fields outside of Bethlehem. David wrote the incredible words of Psalm 23 because he knew what it meant to be a good shepherd, and he knew that God was his good shepherd.

Jesus, a descendant of David, came to earth to be our good shepherd. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said he knows us as His sheep. He, our good shepherd, lays down his life for his sheep.

So on the night that Jesus’ would come into this world, the process was set in place for the day he would lay down his life for the world. All of this in the fashion of a truly good shepherd. So an angelic visitation to shepherds, men who understood feeding, guiding and saving, was the best way for His life to begin.

Shepherds at Bethlehem

Sunday in Michigan

December 13th, 2015

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” Luke 2:11

What is Christmas? If Advent is about waiting, anticipating, yearning, what is Christmas? Advent says the Baby is coming, but He isn’t here yet. During Advent Hope is on its way, but the yearning is still very real. Christmas is the response to that yearning.

To me, Christmas is the blessing of being with family, remembering, giving, and God’s promise fulfilled. Its joy, excitement, hope and delicious goodies. Christmas is remembering the love Jesus asked us to have for everyone. Christmas is giving. Sometimes we give things, and other times we offer the gift of service.

Christmas breads and carmel corns

Christmas breads and carmel corns

Christmas brittle and bon bons

Christmas brittle and bon bons

Christmas candies and peppermint bark

Christmas candies and peppermint bark

What Christmas isn’t is a date on the calendar. Sometimes the Christmas Spirit moves and all the waiting for the joy and hope is over. The time can come when family is together reading the Christmas story, goodies on the table, gifts under the tree and God’s love in the air. What a joyous, blessing of Christmas I celebrated with my brother’s family before returning to Ironwood this weekend. We found that this Christmas was right on time.

What is Christmas? It’s when we celebrate merrily with family and friends the gift our Heavenly Father gave to each of us: the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

P.S. Thank you to each member of my family for making this a memorable Christmas. Also, posts may be sporadic until I am able to obtain Wi-Fi at my new Ironwood home.

Christmas: Joseph

December 9th, 2015

This is how the birth of Jesus came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:18-19

I know so little about Joseph. He’s only mentioned in the birth and childhood stories of Jesus. He was named after a famous patriarch, but this Joseph was merely a carpenter who lived in the small town of Nazareth. His ancestors were from Bethlehem. Therefore when Caesar called for a census, Joseph had to take his pregnant wife and return to Bethlehem.

The most important thing I know about Joseph is that when the time called for it, he displayed great faith and grace. He found out that his fiancée’ was pregnant. Granted, Mary had the benefit of an angel to help explain her unique conception, but Joseph hadn’t been visited yet. All he had was Mary’s word. Can you imagine that talk? “Joseph, I need to talk to you. An angel told me I would get pregnant by an act of God and that I’ll carry the savior of the world.” Why would Joseph even believe her? Why did he change his initial plan to break off the relationship? What would you have done?

This Christmas think of Joseph. Think of him looking into Mary’s eyes, hearing her shocking news, knowing in his heart of hearts it’s true, and having the courage to act on that faith even though he probably had doubts. As crazy as it seemed, he believed it. As much as the idea goes against all logic and science, Joseph knew it was possible with God. Even as risky as it was to stay with Mary and be branded by others as the dupe of an immoral woman, Joseph decided to take that leap of faith.

That’s true faith in action. It wasn’t just that he trusted Mary. Joseph trusted that God could, that God might, and that God would do what He promised.

I want to share Joseph’s courage and iron-strong faith to believe that at the birth of Jesus, God really did enter this world and is still working powerfully in it.

Christmas: Virgin Mary

December 2nd, 2015

The days leading up to Christmas present us with an extraordinary opportunity for us to grow in our knowledge of Jesus, who called himself the way, the truth and the life. Even if we have a sense of purpose in life, we don’t talk about it in that way.

But Jesus said he came for fulfill the Scriptures. He came to preach and proclaim, and lead us out of the darkness so that we may have eternal life. As if that weren’t enough, He said that He came in order to serve and to sacrifice.

There are many ways to study the life-changing reality of the coming of the Son of God. Over the next few weeks I’ll focus on a few key words associated with the birth of Jesus. Last year I focused on the words joy, peace and angel. Each of the chosen words are like Christmas treasure. I want to start with the virgin Mary this year:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” Luke 1:30-31

Can anyone fathom the immense faith Mary was called upon to have? She was a young virgin probably expecting to lead an ordinary life in a no-name Galilean town. Then the message came from heaven.

To be visited by an angel would be miraculous enough, but to hear those powerful words: “You will be with child,” in a way that no woman before or since has been with child. God chose Mary to be His instrument. A high favor indeed!

Mary & Gabriel

Mary & Gabriel

Mary is a pivotal figure during the Christmas season. She stands at the crossroads between the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New. She was asked to believe something that many of us struggle to imagine. Yet, from that day when she was face to face with an angel, to the cold night in the stable, to the day her son was mounted on a cross, her life witnessed Jesus’ message.

She was human as we are, with extraordinary faith. God bless you as you draw closer to the baby, born to a virgin, in a manger so long ago.

Time For Christmas Music: Away In a Manger

December 25th, 2014

The popular Christmas Carol Away In A Manger was published in 1884 in Boston, Massachusetts with the heading “Luther’s Cradle Song”. It was later published in 1885 with simply Away In A Manger.

The earliest publication refers to Martin Luther, referencing his 400th birthday in 1883. The claim was that he composed the song for his children. However, the claim appears to be false. No records of the lyrics have ever been found among Luther’s work.

Regardless, the song has remained very popular since it’s beginnings. Away In A Manger appeared on the US chart twice, first by Reba McEntire and then Kenny Chesney. In 2013, popular TV series Glee covered the song and most recently Sadie Robertson recorded the song for her family’s Christmas album, Duck the Halls. And did you know Francis of Assisi gets credit for the first Nativity scene in 1223?

For unto us a child was born, far away in a manger …

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay, The little lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes. I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky. And stay by my side till morning is nigh.

Sweet bells they ring, they ring out the news today, That Christ was born, was born on Christmas day, Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay Close by me for ever and love me, I pray.

Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there. Sweet bells they ring they ring out the news That Christ was born, was born on Christmas Day, That Christ was born, was born on Christmas day.

 

 

Christmas: Jesus

December 22nd, 2014

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Sometimes a name is just a name, and other times the name captures someone perfectly. Long ago people would choose names carefully, so to make a lifelong statement about a person’s identity. The name “Jesus” is familiar to us today, so much so one could easily forget it was a name with extraordinary significance. The name an angel announced should be given to Mary’s unborn child. And it means, “the Lord saves.” Yes, He does!

None of us can claim that power. We needed a savior to save us from the tyranny and guilt of sin. Bethlehem was the beginning of God’s mission. We don’t need to wait until Good Friday or Easter to celebrate. Our saving began at Jesus’ birth.

Mary and Joseph probably didn’t understand all of this, of course. However, they were obedient and named the newborn Jesus, The Lord Saves. But how and when the Lord would save them was still a mystery to them. Not for us. This side of the crucifixion and resurrection, we know the extent of our Saviors love for us.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

Amusing Christmas Angels

December 17th, 2014

Kids say the funniest things about Christmas Angels:

Mindy, age 8: I only know one angel and his name is Herold. Mommy sings a song about him, “Hark! Herold the angel sings.”

Peter, age 7: Angels don’t eat that much, but they drink a lot of milk from the holy cows.

Veronica, age 8: I don’t understand about angels, why when a girl fancies a boy, they get an angel to shoot arrows at him??

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Just before Christmas God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the evil that was going on.  He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out.  So he called one of His best angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time.  When she returned she told God, yes it is bad on Earth, 95% is bad and 5% is good.

Well, he thought for a moment and said, maybe I had better send down a second angel to get another point of view.  So God called another angel and sent her to Earth for a time too. When the angel returned she went to God and told him yes, the Earth was in decline, 95% was bad and 5% was good.

God was discouraged by this news. So He decided to email the 5% that were good to encourage them, give them a little something to help them keep going.

Do you know what that email said?? … Ah, so you didn’t get it either?

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Christmas angels are hard to find when your eyes are closed, but when you choose to see, angels are everywhere you look. So, open your eyes and count all your Angels; for you are truly blessed.

Christmas: Angels

December 15th, 2014

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

The real meaning of angel is simply: messenger. It reminds us that Christmas is about the message. And it’s good news! And delivering the good news were powerful spiritual messengers whose very presence struck fear and awe into people. Their message transformed mankind forever.

What did Mary see when the angel Gabriel appeared to her? What was it like to look upon this spiritual messenger of God that came with words that would change the world forever? How would Joseph describe his encounter with the angel? In the days leading up to Jesus’ birth, supernatural appearances were occurring as never before.

This year, many of us would like to hear a personal message from God. However, we’ve already received the message, and it’s individually suited to each of us because it was sent to all of us. As the angel said to Joseph: “Jesus will save his people from their sins.” The angel’s message from that cold night continues to ring loud and clear. Centuries later it’s still as true as it was when first proclaimed. In this world so full of wonders, yet seized by sinful human nature, we’ve been given the gift of salvation as proclaimed by angels. Hallelujah!

Christmas: Peace

December 8th, 2014

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14

Peace is a noble aspiration at any time, either in times of war or harmony. When you find yourself at odds with someone, or when you’re feeling pretty good about your relationships. Whether you’re feeling good or bad, it’s always important to pursue peace.

Peace is so much more than the absence of conflict. Maybe you can lay your head on your pillow tonight and thank God that you experienced no conflict, but that isn’t the same thing as experiencing peace. If a husband and wife get tired of shouting at each other and both slip into indifference, that isn’t the same as peace.

The Hebrew word for peace is isshalom and means: May you be healthy, whole, and complete. May you know where you fit in the universe, and may find tranquility there. Augustine said peace is the “tranquility of order.” When you know where you fit into God’s world, you will be in a state of tranquility.

Therefore, let’s pray for peace at Christmastime. Let’s pray that people everywhere will experience His grace, and be filled with a peace that is beyond our understanding. The special peace brought to us in the form of a baby boy, to put things in order.

 

Christmas: Joy

December 1st, 2014

Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10

Yesterday marked the first Sunday in Advent and it seemed to go largely unnoticed by people I spoke with. Yet, the days leading up to Christmas present us with an extraordinary opportunity for great joy. And that seems to be noticeably lacking, too. Therefore, over the coming weeks I will consider words key words or phrases with are associated with the birth of Jesus Christ. Starting with joy…

Great joy, is it too much to hope for? Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated and replaced with a nonstop buzz of lights and weary shoppers? It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to step aside and experience the angel’s proclamation, “I bring you good news of great joy!”

The angel came to the shepherds on a night like any other. But that night changed everything.

That’s the way it works with real joy. It changes everything. You might enjoy a Christmas cookie, or a gift received. But joy itself, true and pure, is so much more than enjoyment. Joy is a thirst that can’t be quenched. A never ending hunger to know God.

The angel’s proclaimed “great joy” is great because it’s everywhere with us and it’s for all people here and now. This Christmas season take time out of your busy schedule to sit and experience real joy.

 

The Rest of The Year

January 3rd, 2014

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Luke 1:46-49

It’s my first morning home after visiting my family for Christmas. I feel a bit sad and lonely. I was thinking it’s always sad, isn’t it? Christmas is over, the company leaves and you’re left taking down the decorations and putting everything away for the next 11 months. It’s like we experience this tremendous Christmas high that crashes to the ground after New Years day.

Unfortunately, that’s the way many Christians live their spiritual life. They’re just waiting for the next big event so they can get their feel-good fix. But Mary’s first Christmas was anything but feel-good.

Mary sang and praised God for the same reasons that we ought to be singing every day of the year. She sang because of her salvation. Mary knew the challenges that were on the horizon and was getting ready to face some severe scrutiny for turning up pregnant and unwed! And never mind the anguish she was going to cause her family, who would be forced to disown her or face the same rejection.

True praise isn’t grounded in your circumstances. So as you unwind from Christmas, don’t just settle back into business as usual. Take something special from this Christmas like a better appreciation of who Christ is and what he did for you. Because while you may celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, you should experience the life of Christ every day as he lives through you.

 

The Spirit of Christmas

December 25th, 2013

Well, we made it to Christmas day! We made it to the climax of our many Christmas programs, baking and parties to the heart of Christmas. And I wonder, do you have the Christmas spirit?

Better yet, what does the Christmas spirit mean to you? Is it the warm and familiar feeling of being with family and friends around a soothing fire and mug of hot chocolate? Is it anticipation in the eyes of a child unwrapping a special gift? Or is the spirit of Christmas something else?

The answer is found in Christ, who for our sake came to earth as a babe in human flesh that first Christmas morning.

It’s not the rush we experience when we get a gift, or a holiday bonus at work. These aren’t bad, however the real spirit of Christmas is found not in what we get, but in what we give. It’s becoming ever more like our Savior in the spirit of selflessness. And not just Christmas Day, but throughout our lives.

Perhaps you’re in a position to help put food in the mouths of the hungry. Maybe you work with the elderly and can dispense a much needed hug, healing their hurts. Ultimately, doing so is in the service of dispensing the Christmas spirit.

You see, the spirit of Christmas isn’t a once-a-year experience. It’s a spirit to be embraced year round. It’s the spirit I want reborn each Christmas as my family and I watch yet another rendition of A Christmas Carol across the miles.

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace, the gladness of Christmas give you hope and the warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Santa’s Top 20 Christmas Jokes

December 23rd, 2013

Even Santa likes a good knee slapper. Enjoy Santa’s top 10 list of Christmas jokes that poke fun at the Elves, Reindeer and even himself…

20. What would a reindeer do if it lost its tail? Go to a “re-tail” shop for a new one.

19. Who is never hungry at Christmas? The turkey – he’s always stuffed.

18. What’s red & white and red & white and red & white? Santa rolling down a hill!

17. Why is Christmas just like another day at the office? You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit!

16. Why did the gingerbread man go to the doctor? Because he was feeling crummy.

15. What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Frosty snowflakes

14. Where does Santa stay when he’s on holidays? At a Ho-ho-tel.

13. What nationality is Santa Claus? North Polish.

12. What do you call someone who doesn’t believe in Father Christmas? A rebel without a Claus.

11. What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite.

10. How much did Santa pay for his sleigh? Nothing, it was on the house.

9. What kind of music do elves like best? “Wrap” music!

8. What’s a good holiday tip? Never catch snowflakes with your tongue until all the birds have gone south for the winter.

7. What happens if you accidentally eat a Christmas decoration?? You get “Tinsel”-itis!

6. Why does Scrooge love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Because every buck is dear to him.

5. What do you call Frosty the Snowman in May? A puddle

4. Why are elves so depressed? Because they have low elf esteem.

3. What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus? Claustrophobic

2. What do you call Santa’s helpers? Subordinate Clauses.

1. What does Rudolph want for Christmas? A pony sleigh station!

God Provides a Travel Guide

December 22nd, 2013

Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. … After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:2 & 9

This Christmas, like hundreds before, people will travel from far and wide to celebrate Jesus birth. Today most have a GPS on the dashboard to guide us where we want to go. Without this technology in Bible times, God used a star to lead the wise men to the exact location of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

Scripture states that the wise men rejoiced over the fact that God had provided them with a remarkably accurate travel guide. They knew they wouldn’t have asked for directions or found Christ without the star. The star was God’s gift of direction.

Look at the star differently this Christmas. Look at it as a symbol that God promises to provide a travel guide to those who diligently seek Him.

Most Christians can look back to a time, maybe in Sunday school or a pew beside our parents, when we were being introduced to religion. Remember how confused & overwhelmed you were? Remember what God did?

God provided a travel guide to lead us to Christ. It might have been your parents, a guy at work, neighbor, close friend, or a pastor. But all of us can say, “Without that person I wouldn’t be the Christian I am today.” God sent someone to cross our path. He sent someone whose light was bright and whose love was real. He sent someone whose faith was so compelling that we found ourselves trusting them as God’s travel guide to lead us to Christ.

What would our lives be if God hadn’t put a star in our lives? Why not take a minute this Christmas and thank God for the gift of the star (or stars) that God provided to lead you from confusion to Christ.

But perhaps you are still searching for your guide. Chances are, God’s put a travel guide in your life somewhere. Chances are, you probably know someone whose light burns bright, whose love is real, whose faith has caught your attention more than once. That person may very well be God’s gift to you, like a Christmas star.

Seekers, identify your travel guide and express some of your deep doubts. Ask the tough questions. Just get on the road, and look at the star God’s provided. Someday you’ll be awfully glad you did.

 

 

North Pole or The Manager?

December 20th, 2013

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

For centuries he’s been called by Sinterklaas, Papa Noel or Father Christmas. But to most reading this he is Santa Claus.

His original name was Nicholas, which means victorious. He was born in AD 280 in what is now Turkey. He was orphaned when his parents died of a plague. Many think he probably majored in toy making, however the original Nicholas studied Christian doctrine.

He was honored by the church by being named Bishop of Myra in the early fourth century. History recognized him as a saint, but in the third century he was a bit of a troublemaker and jailed twice for religious reasons. So much for being naughty or nice! LOL

Old Nick was best known for the kindness he showed to a poor neighbor. Old Saint Nicholas slipped up to the house by night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the window so the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He repeated this act on two other nights for the other two daughters. This story was the seed that grew to become the Santa legend.

The gift grew from a handful of coins to bags of coins. And rather than land on the floor, the bags of coins landed in the girls’ stockings, which were hanging on the hearth to dry.

Santa’s wardrobe and personality have undergone transformations as well. By 1300 he was wearing a white beard. By the 1800s he was depicted with a rotund belly. In 1866 he was small but by 1930 he was robust with rosy cheeks.

Santa reflects the desires of people all over the world. With the centuries he has become the culmination of what we need in a hero. He’s the personification of our passions, the expression of our yearnings, and the fulfillment of our desires: A friend who cares enough to travel a long way against all odds to bring gifts to good people. A friend of children, who never gets sick and never grows old. A father who lets you sit on his lap and share your deepest desires.

Santa is ultimately the betrayal of our meager expectations. What?? You see, Santa can’t provide what we really need. He’s only around once a year. Though he gives much, he doesn’t take away much. He doesn’t take away the burden of mistakes, or the anxiety of demands. He’s kind and cute, but when it comes to healing hurts, don’t go to Santa.

I’m not a Scrooge. I’m simply making the point that over the centuries we’ve created many heroes. From King Arthur to Kennedy; Lincoln to Lindbergh; Socrates to Santa to Superman. We give it the best we can, every benefit of every doubt, every supernatural strength, and for a brief shining moment we have the hero we need. But then the truth leaks and we realize that the heroes, as noble as they may have been, were conceived in the same society us.

Except One. There was One who, though He had the appearance of a man, had the origin of God. There was One who, while wearing the face of a Jew, had the image of the Creator. At His touch blind beggars saw. At His command crippled legs walked. At His embrace empty lives filled with vision.

He fed thousands with one basket. He stilled a storm with one command. He raised the dead with one proclamation. He changed lives with one request.

What man can’t do, God does. Hallelujah! So, when it comes to goodies, candy, and reindeer with red noses, go to the North Pole. But when it comes to eternity, forgiveness, purpose, and truth, go to the manger. Kneel with the shepherds. Worship the God who dared to do what man dared not dream.

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.