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Showing posts from 2018

The Messiah in the Manger

Christmas is a time of surprises. A lady was preparing her Christmas cookies. There came a knock at the door. She went to find a man, his clothes poor, obviously looking for some Christmas odd jobs. He asked her if there was anything he could do. She said, “Can you paint?”
“Yes,” he said. “I’m a rather good painter.”
“Well,” she said, “there are two gallons of green paint there and a brush, and there’s a porch out back that needs to be painted. Please do a good job. I’ll pay you what the job is worth.”
He said, “Fine. I’ll be done quickly.”
She went back to her cookie making and didn’t think much more about it until there was a knock at the door. She went, and the obviousness of his painting was evident: he had it on his clothes. She said, “Did you finish the job.”
He said, “Yes.”
She said, “Did you do a good job?”
He said, “Yes. But lady, there’s one thing I’d like to point out to you. That’s not a Porsche back there. That’s a Mercedes.”
Pastor Bruce Thielemann once said,
Christmas is a time …

The Person Who Pondered Christmas

In a short devotional for Christian Standard magazine, Paul Williams wrote about an unusually bumpy flight he once had from Philadelphia to Long Island. Since he was a frequent flyer, Williams wasn’t too concerned about the turbulence. Other passengers, however, were grabbing onto their armrests or steadying themselves on the seat back in front of them. While observing the reactions of his fellow passengers, Williams took notice of one young mother caring for her baby. He watched as she “wrapped her arms around her infant and pulled the child very close to her breast. Then she dropped her chin, rested it on the back of the child’s head, and began to sing ever so quietly, ‘Hush, Little Baby.’”
The moment caused Williams to reflect on Christmas. He writes: 
Helpless fragility is the lot of the infant. Those early days leave a lasting impression on the human psyche we never really resolve. That vulnerability stays with us all of our days, reminding us of the seemingly capricious nature of …

Look Forward

I remember as a child looking forward to Christmas more than any other day of the year, perhaps even more than my birthday. Of course, like every family, my family of origin had a number of rituals in which we engaged as we looked forward to Christmas. First, there were the Christmas decorations that did not come out of the attic until December 1. Then there was the opening of doors on an Advent calendar. Next came the Christmas tree. And, of course, woven throughout this time, there was attendance at church during the four Sundays of Advent. As I have mentioned a number of times, Advent means “coming”. It is the season of the church year when we look back and remember the first coming of Christ. But it is also the time when we look forward to his second coming. The big question is: how does God want us to live as we look forward to Jesus’ second coming? The life and words of John the Baptist give us some direction. Listen to what Luke has to say about him from Luke 3:7-18. Listen for …

Make Ready

How do you get ready for guests coming to stay? We had Scrooge stay at our house a week ago. That is to say, our guest was Bill Carmichael, the Broadway actor who played Scrooge in the recent production of “A Christmas Carol” at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center. Even though it was Scrooge coming to stay, we tried to make sure our bathrooms were clean, we put fresh linens on the bed along with a clean towel, and we purchased some extra food.  Now, let me re-phrase the question this way: “How did you or how would you prepare for a newborn baby coming to your house?” When we were expecting each of our children, we made sure the nursery was ready and freshly decorated. We purchased seemingly endless supplies of baby paraphernalia, especially for our first child. And of course, there was the need for baby clothes, for a newborn and for each stage of the first year of life. And with our first child, more than subsequent ones, we read books like, “What to Expect when You’re Expecting”. With …