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CA21CBB4-FFA4-4F38-B4B2-5D4B31BB3479_1_105_c.jpegChristmas is a hands down favorite time of the year. It is crazy busy, no doubt. Normally, I shy away from busy, especially if crowds of people are involved.

Once in a while, however, the stop-and-go, pushing, shoving, long lines, and stifling absence of oxygen is worth the minimal discomfort. Our Christmas program at our church, Houston’s First Baptist Church is one of those “worth it” evenings. “Celebration” is an annual gala with a repeated storyline with amazing variations. I love it!

This year, the silk acrobats deftly spinning and twirling and climbing to brilliant orchestral music had me mesmerized. How do they do that? Is that safe? Are they in danger? Oh, yeah, I remind myself, my daughter-in-law, Breanna, does that. She loves it! These artists had me entertained, putting visuals to familiar Christmas music.

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Angels are a favorite feature of our annual program. These stars are suspended from a high, very high, ceiling. Their costumes flow in the air. Yes, they are not the real heavenly ones, but surely give us a sense that they are very close to portraying the real McCoy.

Their role accomplishes a special purpose. Christmas is not about an earthly event, populated by earthly beings, and added among a myriad of earthly stories. Rather, it is what it is, a supernatural story of true history, giving testimony for all generations that the one and only Almighty God visited the earth to give the most precious gift he could as an expression of his love for all people.

This sensational Christmas program is full of entertainment. I laughed, smiled, sang along, remembered childhood moments, and found myself wondering about the story that gave it to us all. It is a true story of a little baby born 2,000 years ago in a country far away, today locked into great controversy. God knew that mankind was in trouble with sin.

D8E6ED1F-526C-43C4-B253-43AEAC002682_1_105_c.jpegJesus was born to die. Odd, isn’t it? In a similar sense we are all born and will some day die. Yet, Jesus was born specifically to die on behalf of all people. His death, as the one and only perfect one, paid the price of our sin.

The climax of Christmas is not opening presents tucked under a splendidly decorated tree. Nor is it family time with relatives traveling from parts unknown. Instead, the crescendo of Christmas is Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, a gift of eternal life to all who believe.

Merry Christmas!

 

IMG_1402We have guests coming to our home soon.  All of us are getting into the Christmas spirit.  Our fault and staff along with their families are converging on our home to celebrate this very precious season commemorating our Savior’s birth.

My wife and I are incredibly busy so neither of us can wait until the last minute to decorate and set up to entertain our nearly 40 guests.  Days in advance I have mapped out the errands that need attention.  Each day I knock off a chunk of that list.

High on that to-do schedule is setting up the Christmas tree.  It is a long-process.  Yet, without the tree everyone would know that something is missing.

Over a week ago I was in the closet pulling out from storage our decorations.  The tree was in a box.  That tree has been set up and taken down in three different states of the Union.

Each time it has been surrounded by joy and cheer.  It is a part of this favorite time of year.  So many symbols and memories and reminders of the reason for the season is represented on this central decoration.

I fluffed up each of the branches.  Once the tree was presentable I decked it with a multi-colored string of lights.  The lights were tested and approved.

The garland added color and sparkle.  Ornaments made us reminisce over the years of happiness and great memories that have passed by.  Special people, amazing moments and deepening love are all a part of what those ornaments point to.

Of course the tree topper is a climax.  Over the years we have had different tops to finish off our tree.  But, we often favor the Precious Moments angel.  She smiles down on all of our guests as they fill our home with more laughter, cheer and memories.

Love is a big deal this time of year.  Sure, it takes a lot of planning and effort.  But, that is all lost when I stand back, turn off the lights in the house and turn on the lights of the Christmas tree.

A moment of pause fills my spirit.  Smiles linked with special people ooze into the night.  Our musical clock chimes out a Christmas carol.

Love dominates the moment.  Family and the devotion of treasured ones rises to the surface of life.  Warm embraces will soon come.  It is all about love from family and friends so close they are family.

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

IMG_0954We arrived home late because we both had so much to do at work.  Now, it was after 7PM so we paused and heated up a simple supper and headed back out on a week night to get a few errands knocked off of our list.  Running around town, we help each other check on projects to finish, lists of things to collect and eventual events to attend.

Our last stop lay ahead.  We paused and looked at each other.  Weariness from a long day and busy night made us both wink at each other.

“Last stop. Then we can go home and get some rest,” we cheered each other on.

“OK, you get this half of the list and I will get the other half and rendezvous back up front,” my administrative hunter skills were kicking in.

My beloved was efficient as she could be.  Yup, distractions begged for her attention.  Several extra stops were  giving her the moment that shopping does to enliven her soul.

For a few moments I was determined to finish my task and be the first one back to the meeting point.  My every intention was mission-oriented.  The task was at hand and I would accomplish it.

Then, the unexpected happened.  It had an immediate effect on my speed, focus and destination.  With time passing by I stopped and slipped into another world.

This is October and a fully decorated Christmas tree stopped me in my tracks.  It was simple, yet grand.  The use of ribbons and bows gave it an elegant look.

Some might say that there was more ribbon than tree.  But, they would be wrong.  The tree shape dominated the silk decor.  Greenery contrasted with the white and gold fabric.

Yet, the tree is not the meaning for me.  This special symbol of the season gives me reason for great pause.  In a couple of months, the birthday of the King will be upon us.

Hope for a world in chaos, a joy that will silence the grit of war, peace that will sooth the hurting and hungry, faith will be anyone’s greatest strength when placed on the Baby and love will be shared with family, friends and fellow citizens of earth.  This tree, this season changes everything in life.  It does. Count on it. Believe it.

It’s Halloween but Christmas is coming!

photo credit: brucefong photography

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