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John 1.14 Jesus, God’s Son, was born on Christmas Day, so that we could live.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A fragrant lip-smacking breakfast aroma made me feel hungrier than I really was. My buddy’s girlfriend was frantically cooking up a feast. Eggs Benedict, juice, rye toast, apricot marmalade, and fresh fruit topped off the spread. Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake my suspicions. It was almost like “Spidey-senses” were buzzing.

Soon it came in their words, “Would you come and visit our church this Sunday?”

“Sure. I would glad to come.”

It was really her church. They get “points” for bringing visitors. The speaker regaled against the Trinity, espoused Old Testament dietary restrictions, and mocked those who believed Jesus was both God and man.

“What did you think?”

Smiling, I camped on what the Bible says about Jesus being both God and man. John 1.14 was the testimony that I used.

“Read it for yourself and let me know what you think.”

The next day I asked him, “What did you think about that Bible verse?”

His words stunned me, “I think what you think.”

Wow! Just like Christmas his affirmation was a gift. Jesus, the Son of God, came and was born the Son of Man. The birth of Jesus was the historic story of John 1.14. It was the humble birth of God the Son becoming a man.

This is both heady theology yet at the same time remarkable simplicity. Jesus is God’s Son, fully God. Yet, in the miracle of Christmas, Jesus willingly was born as a man. He had to be fully human so that he could die. He was fully God so that his death would be satisfying as a substitute for all of sinful mankind.

My buddy is no theologian. I was biting my tongue to keep from complicating the explanation of this simple verse of Scripture with a long drawn out explanation. I was in awe that it made perfect sense to him just from reading it.

In anticipation of the Easter miracle, Jesus was born to be a sacrificial death for all of us who believe. The great gift of Christmas made the Easter story possible.

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.

24DF3A25-6899-4155-BBE7-A38F74478397_1_105_c.jpeg

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_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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