December 13th, 2017
If you’re like me, you grew up seeing various nativity scenes in front of churches or a neighbor’s house. Nativity scenes can be found on Christmas cards, billboards and commercials. They’re everywhere this time of year. By now they are probably just part of the background.
But instead of just glancing over the, let’s take a few precious moments to focus on what makes up the nativity scene. For example:
The Star: God commissioned a special star to lead the wise men from the East to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem. The Christmas star was God’s gift of direction – God’s travel guide for seekers. Look at your nativity star as a symbol of the fact that God has always provided a guide for those earnestly seeking Him throughout history.
The Stable: Look at the stable., quaint but nothing as great as the star. God choose the stable for His son to be born in to symbolize that Jesus wouldn’t be sheltered from the harsh realities of this world. He wasn’t sent here to live as the rich and famous without troubles, Jesus would experience life in all the boldness of our sin. Whatever we bring to Him – He’s been there! From the beginning in a stable.
The Manger: Don’t mistake the manger for an early bassinet, it was a far cry from that since it was a feeding trough. Ordinary farm equipment in every way. Because He was laid in a manger we know the word and the ordinary became extraordinary. That’s quite a transformation! The manger symbolizes what can happen to an ordinary man or woman when they cry out in repentance and Jesus changes their hearts.
The choice is simple. You can just observe another nativity scene go by on the screen, or you can stop in your tracks and worship Him. What will you choose to do this Christmas?
December 6th, 2017
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:11
We’ve all read the story in Matthew chapter 2 of the wise men following the star. Pastor preached on it last week for Advent. But I wonder … what if we followed a star that led us to a stable? What if suddenly after expecting something grand, you end up behind a barn? And there, instead of a palace and king on a throne, you find a baby in a manger? Nothing is as you anticipated. How would you react if you followed a star and found a stable? How is your conduct affected by the outcome of your expectations?
Seriously, imagine the disappointment the Magi might have felt when they finally ended up in Bethlehem. They’d visited Kind Herod’s palace to find out about this star and the child king to be born and probably a royal court.
Every one of us have had times in life when we’ve followed a star. Everything looked so promising, but we were to find out at the end that we were in a stable. Go back and look at what was written in your high school yearbook, have you met those goals? Some college kids graduate with their diplomas tucked under their arms ready to win the world – but quickly find out the jobs they wanted aren’t the ones they got.
Or maybe your stable was a relationship so full of promise, or a job where you were expecting a long due promotion. You get called into the office and are certain you’re about to get it only to be introduced to the new guy that got your promotion. In a daze you realize you were following a star and ended up in the stable.
Wise men of every age, when faced with a stable, don’t panic. They hold stead and know that God is there. A mature Christian sees God not only in palaces and pleasures, but also in the barnyards and stables of life.
Have you ever had a stable moment that changed your life? I’ve had plenty. Those are usually times He wants me to change direction and look at what’s in the stable. A baby that would save mankind, the same that the wise men found. Let’s be wise and look for God in the stable. Let’s bring Him our best and allow Him to change our direction to become greater than we are.
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!