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Posts Tagged ‘#christmas’

One of the words, opposite joy, is despair. When I think of despair, I think hopeless, lacking in peace.

It is interesting that today, this third Sunday of advent, we focus on joy, following peace and hope. Perhaps it is because we, our lives, are absent of joy if we have not received the hope and peace that only Christ can give?

Joy is not just a product of hope and peace, joy is, much like those, a choice.

Psalm 71:23 says, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” Notice first section, “my lips will shout for joy” … it is a statement of dedication, determination. The Psalmist is committing, vowing that whatever befalls he will shout for joy. He is making a choice. Charles Spurgeon has said of this Psalm, “this Psalm may be regarded as the utterance of struggling, but unstaggering, faith.”

Anyone out there struggling right now? We are in a pandemic people … we are ALL struggling with something in this time in our lives, in the history that is presently being written. We all have struggles that challenge our hearts and souls (and bodies). This is our current, common human experience.

But …

if we can look to the source of hope and peace,

if we can choose, by our will and our unstaggering (well … most of the time) faith to force joy from our lips … it WILL COME BACK TO OUR SOULS!

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). It is new every morning (Psalm 30:5). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Angels experience joy when one person repents (Luke 15:10). We should eat and drink with a merry (joyful) heart (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Rejoice always, 
pray without ceasing, 
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Hey reader …

did you know that we are in the midst of a pandemic?

did you know that Christmas is coming … but so much of what is part of our Christmas season, is not going to be the same as previous years?

do you feel tired?

Someone has said,

I saw this quote awhile back and it has been tossing and turning in my thoughts.

I think it stuck with me because … I am tired and

all I want for Christmas is to stop being tired

Do you know what I mean?

Do you feel the fatigue too?

I am tired of:

  • missing family
  • longing to travel
  • telling students to pull their face masks over their noses
  • death counts and numbers in hospital ICU
  • missing singing as a congregation
  • the days that are dark and gloomy and short on light
  • words like cohorts, bubble and anti-maskers
  • Christ-followers who are focused on ‘their’ rights in a broken world
  • the people who just won’t do what must be done so that we can be together
  • this pandemic … all of it

And when I focus on these things … then I feel even more tired!

When I focus on Christ, though I am still tired, I feel something else, something that provides strength, comfort and purpose.

When Christ is the focus of my thoughts, my prayers and my attention I have a relief of this tiredness through the peace that only he can provide …. an acceptance of God’s control in my life, in the lives of those I love … all in the midst of a pandemic.

When I give my attention and thoughts to the peace of Christ, I begin to experience relief of some of the fatigue. And through my reception of this peace, the tiredness isn’t as intense, isn’t the focus.

Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you. 
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled 
and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

“Come to me, 
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

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Merry Christmas!

As this day dawns, our souls sing Joy to the World, as the Silent Night has birthed a new day with the angels singing, Glory to the new born King.

This is the day that advent prepares us for, the day that love came down.

God sent his son, to give us hope that we might know of his kingdom, that we might have our sins forgiven (and forgotten), that we might have his Spirit to guide us, that we might return to the beauty of Eden, where we can walk and talk with God himself.

There is no message more important, more practical, more true than this:

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life. 
For God did not send his Son into the world 
to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16

For redemption is the best theme of any story, for it is the theme of our story … we are reminded today of that offering of redemption … we just have to choose to receive it, hands and heart open.

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Relief … a word as much as an emotion, as much as a guttural moan.

When hubby responded to my questioning text, about our son’s road test result, with “he just gave me the thumbs up,” I felt great relief. When each of us in the family got the news, we all felt relief. We all just needed a little good news, a break in the seemingly endless line of news that was not good.

Christmas, as much about the season of waiting, is one about relief … relief had come, and was felt through it’s good news.

This is why the wise men left their safe and warm observatories to find the newly born king (Jesus). It is why a host of angels came to tell shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem of the new born king. It is why the shepherds left their flocks after being told of the birth of the Saviour (Jesus). It is why Herod, when he heard that the wise men were searching for a king, told them to report back (and why they returned home a different route).

The Saviour, Redeemer and King had finally come. This is why we sing hymns and carols like “Come thou Long Expected Jesus”, “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Joy to the World”. The anticipation and expectation of the coming of one to bring long awaited good news was great.

And what was the news that Christ was bringing?

The good news that Christ brought
was that we would not longer have to live
apart from God.

His virgin arrival as a vulnerable babe, he grew up as the word incarnate, fulfilling the prophesies that foretold of the Messiah, who would come to bring light to the world dominated by darkness. Then he died, a cruel and deliberate death, separating him from his Father. But on the third day, he toppled the darkness of death, left his grave, then walked and talked with his closest people.

 … and this good news just keeps bringing relief.

“The Son of God became a man 
to enable men to become sons of God.”
CS Lewis

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“What is your favourite Christmas tradition?”

It doesn’t happen often, but that question left me without a response.

In the years that our kids were children, we had many Christmas traditions. 

The cookies left out for Santa. The Christmas dresses for the girls, picked out and purchased by their dad. The Sunday School productions and school concerts. Driving through neighbourhoods to see the light displays. Going to the tree farm to pick out the best tree ever. The box of used books for the kids to spend Christmas Eve day reading (after having cleaned their bedrooms). Plus so many more!

As I sat at the women’s event, trying to come up with a tradition that has grown up with us, that could be well communicated to a tableful of strangers, I was instantly, frighteningly without a response.

Traditions are beautiful opportunities to celebrate the permanence and stability within a family, workplace or community. They give us opportunities to have clear, shared expectations, memories and anticipations to come in the future.

Days later I was sitting by the lit Christmas tree, thinking of my three, and the mountains of various heights that they were climbing. I was moved to give them and the current events in their lives, to God in prayer.

How easy it is to be reminded to pray when sitting in front of a lighted Christmas tree. It is as though the lights whisper to my soul.

It makes me think of the name Hagar gave to God, 

“So Hagar gave this name (El-roi) to the LORD who had spoken to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “Here I have seen the One who sees me!”” (Genesis 16:13)

The God who sees me …

That is what I experience when I an sitting by the Christmas tree lights … a sense, a reminder that God can see me, for who I am, and I am drawn into his presence as the lights illuminate the room.

And, each Christmas, I sit by the Christmas tree, glowing with lights, and am drawn to bring my loves to Him, to lay them … their burdens at his feet, all the while sensing profoundly that he sees them, that he sees me.

It is not a Christmas tradition, limited to childhood. For it is beyond the cookies and dresses and gifts and carols and all of the Hallmark moments … for it is the gift that can be handed down from generation to generation.

And I pray it is. I pray that our children will know the joy of having seen the One who sees them. That is the tradition that I want to share.

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