Encouragement From The Word

Wishful thinking

We’re two weeks away from Christmas Day.  That revelation may be relieving to some and downright frightening to others, but it’s true nonetheless.  That, coupled with a letter I received yesterday, gave me pause to think.

As Clerk of our Presbytery, I received a letter yesterday informing the Presbytery that it had not been accepted into a program that the denomination is sponsoring to help bring renewal to Presbyteries across the country.  There were 27 applicants, and only 15 could be accepted, so there were 12 that had to be denied.  Ours was one, and I’m certain there will be disappointment that results from the news.

Perhaps you have a ‘wish list’ at Christmas – a list of things that you would like to receive as gifts.  If that list is not completely fulfilled, are you disappointed?  When we were children, most of us had high hopes for particular gifts.  Those hopes still exist, though most certainly for different things, today.  Witness the commercials put out by “Best Buy”, whereby gifts are described not by their names or physical properties, but by the reactions expected as a result of their receipt. 

Do you have a wish list?  In our (mostly) affluent society today, many people who don’t get everything they wish for simply go out on Boxing Day and Shop ‘Til They Drop to get what they want, and on sale, bien sûr.  Yet, as the great theologians (!) Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote,

You can’t always get what you want

And if you try sometime you find

You get what you need

What we want and what we need are not always the same thing.  Many people know what they want for Christmas; do they know what they need?  Do we know what we need?

The whole ‘Christmas’ thing got started because God presented the greatest gift of all in the form of himself:  God in human flesh, born in a lowly manger.  That is what we need for Christmas:  Jesus.  And the best part of all is that when we wish for him, we will receive him.  And when we receive him we will never, ever be disappointed.

This may not be news to you.  But you can be sure that it is news to some of your friends and neighbours.  Why not invite them to celebrate Jesus with you this Christmas among your church family?  Let them experience the wonder of Christmas surrounded by people who are united around a common purpose of glorifying and enjoying God forever.

What a difference you and I can make!

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Biblical Messages

A GRINCH-FREE CHRISTMAS: Having a mind that’s peaceful

Next to ‘time’, peace of mind might be one of the rarest commodities to come by nowadays.  To have a ‘Grinch-free’ Christmas, we need peace of mind – more than just the peace that is the absence of strife, but a peace that goes beyond  – a peace that is what the Jewish people call ‘Shalom’:  wholeness and complete peace.

This message, based on James 3.13-18, can be heard by clicking here.

Encouragement From The Word

Keeping Jesus in Christmas

What does it take to have a merry Christmas?

For some people, it’s about the presents.  If “just the right thing” doesn’t show up under the tree, the whole season of anticipation is seen as a waste of time.

For others, it’s about family.  To be sure, many people find this time of year enriched by the presence of loved ones. 

But there’s got to be more to it!

The children of St. Paul’s, Nobleton have spent the past several weeks rehearsing and performing a Christmas musical entitled, “It’s A Wonder-Full Life”.  The premise is this:  a group of kids complete their annual Christmas ‘pageant’, and one of them can’t wait to get home to find a really significant gift under the tree.  Left to clean up after the presentation, this child just wants to leave it all and go home, wishing that Christmas was just about presents.  With that, the lights go out on the tree, the gifts are empty, and the bell suddenly has no clapper.  Without Jesus, the kids discover, there can be no Christmas.

They sing, “You can’t take Jesus out of Christmas:  He’s there for all eternity.  You can’t take Jesus out of Christmas.  Don’t take Him away; you must let Him stay ‘cause Jesus means Christmas to me.”

It takes Jesus to have a merry Christmas.  Yet all kinds of people – rarely, it should be noted, people of other religious traditions – work hard to excise Jesus from Christmas, or even to excise Christmas as a term from the ‘holiday season’.  Here’s a poem that’s been going around the Internet that illustrates what I mean (it’s American, but you can translate it appropriately):

‘Twas the Month before Christmas 
‘Twas the month before Christmas

When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away

The reason for Christmas – no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say

 December 25th is just a ‘ Holiday ‘.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd! 

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanza

In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down

At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears

You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzer

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

 Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded

The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream Tree’

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,

not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together

and wish everyone you meet,

“MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Jesus is The Reason for the Season!” 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6).

By the way, the kids are performing the Christmas musical one more time, this Sunday night at 7:00.  You are very welcome to come and share the joy of Christmas!