Christmas Coming

Christmas Coming
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Christmas coming … from the world’s point of view, gifts to be bought, food to be prepared, family arriving, sharing feast and presents, no mention of Christ (He has been Xed out), plus it is getting late, it is costing too much, it is too busy; for some it is lonely and depressing, and on and on!  

Christmas comingOh! to walk from that and breathe the air of God as He comes to us as a child, as Immanuel, as the breath of Heaven, as the Way, the Truth, the Life.  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  John 1:9

Oh, to be sensitive and anticipating Christmas coming! …
Mary heard and knew Christmas coming:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. …” Luke 1:26-27
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1:31-33
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”   Luke 1:35
Mary honored Christmas coming:
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:38

Joseph became aware of and honored his vows for Christmas coming:
…, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”   Matthew 1:20b-21 
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:24-25
Elizabeth felt Christmas coming:
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Luke 1:41-42

John recognized Christmas coming from the womb:
…,the baby leaped in her womb. Luke 1:41

Zechariah prophesied Christmas coming:  
“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:76-79

The shepherds saw, heard, and believed Christmas coming:
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:9-12

The angels rejoiced for Christmas coming?
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”   Luke 2:13  

Simeon awaited Christmas coming:
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  Luke 2:26
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Luke 2:29-32
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”  Luke 2:34-35

Anna, the prophetess waited, was sensitive to, and then praised Christmas coming: 
And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:38

The wise men saw Christmas coming:
“For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”   Matthew 2:2b

Prophets prophesied Christmas coming:
Micah – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2
Ezekiel – And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.  Ezekiel 34:23
HoseaLet us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”  Hosea 6:3
Isaiah – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14
Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”  Isaiah 49:7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, 
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Christmas coming:
  • in a manger over 2000 years ago
  • in Salvation
  • in Grace
  • in Truth
  • in the Word
  • in a cloud 
  • in my heart each day
  • in the praises of His people
I see Christmas coming this year more clearly than ever before.  Christmas comes in the Christ, directly to my heart as my LORD and Savior.  He comes in the quiet of prayer.  He comes in the darkness as the bright and shining Light.  He comes in love and joy.  He comes as the Word.  He comes in a song.  He comes every day, every moment of every day.  Some I miss.  Yet He comes and waits.  I wait with anticipation and adoration.  I feel Christmas coming from the inside-out this year.  Truly remarkable moments!  


Thank You, Heavenly Father, for blessing us with Your One and Only Son.  Thank You for opening the eyes of my heart to truly see Christmas coming.  May I be sensitive to Christ coming, the Holy Spirit within me forever teaching me, praying for me, loving me.  May we each take the time to ponder the Truth of Christmas.  May we each treasure the beauty of Your gift to us.  The Son of Righteousness has come to us, to me.  He is the absolute expression of Your Love to us.  He is our King.  He is our Shepherd.  He is our LORD.  He is the innocence of the Babe in the manger.  He is Birth in me, Rebirth in me.  He is Forgiveness.  He is Love.  He is Salvation.  I thank You, Father, for Your Son… for Christmas Coming.  Amen and Amen.  Selah…  

 

Where I’ve Seen Jesus … in the Midst …

 Finding Christ in Christmas: Where I’ve seen Jesus this Season
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How we hunger and thirst.  Literally, so many are dying of hunger and thirst in this world.  And so many are satisfied physically, yet are hungering and thirsting for something, something … they know not what or Whom.  He is right here with us, in reach, in sight.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. John 6:35-36
Jesus is all around us, near us, beside us.  One just must look up and know that He is here with us.  For me, I know that my Redeemer lives and walks with me, lives in me.  He shows me Himself in so many ways.  This Christmas season, I am looking for Him in the world around me.  My physical eyes and the eyes of my heart focus to see Him.  

In the Word…He is on every page:  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:1-5


In the night skies, the moon and stars:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.  And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. Genesis 1:14-16

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.  Matthew 2:9b


In the love and encouragement from my husband, my sister:
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.  Romans 15:5-6

In the faces of the elderly at the nursing home when they can no longer speak understandably or at all, when they cannot hear so well, when dementia or Alzheimers or a stroke has taken pieces of their mind, a touch or a hug, an “hello”, an “I love you” means the world to them, making their precious faces light up:
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:34-40

In the hands and hearts of the nursing home staff, especially Consuelo, Art, Flo, Yvonne, Junko, Letty, Marta:
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  Luke 10:33-34

In the delight of children, especially Estephania as she cares and loves my mother, other residents, in the nursing home while she waits for her own mother to finish her shift as nurse’s aide:
…but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 19:14

LORD, I pray that as I walk through this world, that I would see You all around me, that I would have my eyes open for “the least”, my heart ready to receive You however You come to me.  LORD, I pray I not miss an opportunity to serve You in this world.  When I do, I am sorry.  I ask Your forgiveness and know that it has been given.  You are forever and always.  I am today, but will live with You in Eternity.  Thank You for Your gift to me through Your very Blood.  I am Yours.  May my eyes be aware and my heart ready.  I will seek You and find You when I seek You with all of my heart.  Amen.


Immanuel ~ God with us.

 

Be Prepared … This is Not Your Ordinary Celebration of Christmas

The topic for this week is: Christmas: How We Celebrate.
‘Tis the season of Christmas

For my husband and I, Christmas has shifted tremendously for us since we married 16 years ago.  These days, Christmas is a rejoicing of our hearts.  We read from the Bible of Christ’s birth, of Who He is … Immanuel – עִמָּנוּאֵל – God with us.  Our hearts are the manger.  Our hearts have grown to house the Holy Spirit.  Our hearts are filled with love.  We desire to spend our Christmas in that spirit.  We have a quiet day.  We ponder this birth, the foretelling of the future through the birth of Christ, the Omnipotent One is with us, and the beauty of our eternal life with Him.  Our hearts rejoice in remembering.  We are still and quiet and awaiting the LORD.

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I am married to a wonderful man.  We have no children, thus no grandchildren.  We married when we were both 45.  This is Ken’s first marriage, thus no children from his side. This is my second marriage and I had no children from my first marriage.  Then I was divorced for 13 years and missed the childbearing years altogether… at least according to my body.  (I don’t believe I am a ‘Sarah’ either.)  That said, Christmas is oddly different without children, but not a bad odd for us, just different.  I have been around children all of my career life and know the excitement and delight through these little wonderful munchkins!  But they are not here in my home.
Christmas is unique for us though.  And we are not sad about that.  Our Christmas is quiet.  Our Christmas is family of two with extended sisters and their families miles and miles away.  So we spend alot of time on the telephone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Prior to Christmas, I bake and love to bake.  I put together cookie and fudge tins for a few of our neighbors, enjoying the giving.  When we were first married, we had three parents alive and celebrated Christmas with them.  My mother is our only parent alive at 95 1/2 so we spend part of our day with her as she is near in a nursing home.  We take some of the homemade goodies to the staff that have to work on Christmas Day.  I appreciate them so very much and want them to know it, not just on Christmas but throughout the year.  We will eat with Mom Christmas Day.  We ate with her last year, but the food wasn’t so good (from there) so I will probably take our meal from home this year and share it with her around a table in a private room we can find  … somewhere in the facility.  She enjoys the family and company and we will call my sisters and her one grandson while there.
We have changed our habits over the years and have made gift giving to one another practical, something we need.  What more we might have spent, we like to give to people we know in need or a charity.  That just depends.  This year, we have spent that extra on food for our local food bank.  That has felt right this year with the economic struggles of the food bank and their outreach is just where we want our money to go.  Our card sending habits have shifted as well.  We respond either as others send them, or after Christmas with a personal letter or at other times of the year rather than in the hubbub of Christmas.  Our gift giving to others is just about nil.  We send love to our families.
We decorate our home extremely simply, to the bare minimum, but what we put up is unique and special.  In the pictures below: the wooden creche, made by a pastor of ours for his shepherd leaders when we had small home groups.  It is all from one piece of wood.  There is a star carved in the left corner.  The beaded Christmas tree was made for my mother by a dear friend of hers probably 30 years ago.  It is all beaded with tiny green beads and tiny ornaments.  It is absolutely beautiful.  We have a pillow from Kenneth’s mother (actually both on chair were hers).  The poinsettia is the vivid color of  the Blood of Christ.  Below it, on the table, is a creche made from olive wood from Israel and the donkey carrying Mary with Joseph beside her is of wood and was from my family when I was a girl.  All mean so much to us.  And that is all we have up and need.



One thing that has been very special to me is the annual wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  We remember the fallen soldiers.  Arlington Cemetery is especially meaningful for me as my Daddy is buried there.  This coming Saturday, 12/12, the annual wreath laying ceremony will  occur where 5,000 wreaths will be laid on graves of fallen soldiers and another 10,000 wreaths across the nation.  Worcester Wreath Company in Maine has donated all wreaths until this very year (are now taking donations to help fulfill their mission, as it is growing).  They have been doing this since 1992.  (I will write more on this in another post.)  But it is a way for me, in particular, to remember the many who have protected me and kept the freedoms of this country.  I find information on the internet about this and treasure the weekend in my heart.  If we lived close, I would be there.

We are not sorry we don’t and cannot do Christmas the way so many others do.  I don’t miss the shopping craziness, nor having spent too much when it was all said and done.  I don’t miss sending out 30, 40, or 50 cards at $0.44 cents each.  I don’t miss feeling all of the ‘have tos’.  I do miss the joys of having family right near and I do miss the joy of a child seeing the lights on a tree or the snow on the ground or that child’s sweet and tender voice talking to Baby Jesus in the creche.  Yes, I do miss some things about a ‘usual’ Christmas.Christina Rossetti wrote this poem in 1872.  It was put to music years ago.  It is a Christmas hymn rarely sung yet is so powerful for me that I must include it in my celebration of Christmas:

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
I do give Him my heart.  He dwells there.  He is close.  I rejoice that God sent His One and Only Son to this earth to save ones such as me and my dear Kenneth.  We know why we celebrate.  Our how is just different.  

LORD, Christmas Day is one day of 365 every year.  Your Son’s birth is celebrated in the Christian world.  The joy of giving gifts is celebrated by many who don’t even mention Jesus in their gatherings.  Father, I pray for those who don’t know You, who don’t remember You, who have turned their back upon You, who don’t care.  Father, may Your light stream into their hearts this Christmas.  You have told us that You bring all things together for good according to Your purposes.  Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.  May the fruit of Your giving abound this Christmas to those of us who do know You and celebrate Christ’s first coming and His second coming.  May it also abound to those who need You.  Oh, God, please bring the peace that passes all understanding to their hearts, their hurting hearts, their broken hearts, their darkened hearts, their stone-cold hearts.  Open those stony gates and let the true Light shine in.  God, I am so grateful that You love me and live with me, and with Kenneth.  May we never forget.  Amen.