MY CHRISTMAS THEORY

Lk.2:11,12 – 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.

Like everyone else, I have lots of theories. You know the routine, we all have opinions on everything. The fact is, some of our theories are better than others. I’m going to call this one my Christmas theory.

Remember those special Christmases as a child, wondering what Santa was going to leave under the tree? I remember some Christmas Eves where I hardly slept a wink. One time I snuck out to the living room to check out the tree at about 10 o’clock. That’s 10 o’clock Christmas Eve. Apparently my parents were at a Christmas party next door and I scoped everything out before they got back. That made things worse. I was totally into astronomy in those days and I saw the telescope my parents got for me. Sleeping would be out of the question that night.

We all have our Christmas stories but the thing I remember most was the almost magical feeling of Christmas. Everyone called it the Christmas spirit; today I actually think that that is the Holy Spirit. Children seem to have a special grace for that spiritual sense of Christmas until they get a little older. Teen age years tend to steal that Christmas specialness away.

At least that’s how it was for me. I lost the sense of the Christmas spirit in my teen age years. Thankfully I got it back after my conversion to Christ when I was twenty one years old. That Christmas, the glory of the Lord, the Spirit of Christmas, swallowed me up. I was swallowed in the world of the Old Testament Hebrew prophets prophesying about the birth of our Lord. The gifts were no longer what Christmas was about. I had discovered God’s great Christmas gift to the world, God’s only begotten Son of God. If you have lost the mystique of Christmas come back to Bethlehem where it all started. Maybe there you will find the portal to God’s world of mystery. Here is a poem I wrote this year. hope it helps you on your journey.

PORTAL

Angels dancing

In radiant beams of light

Mankind is sleeping

On the first Silent Night

Shepherds awakened

By a God celebration

Creation is groaning

For the Desire of all Nations

Jacob’s ladder

Has suddenly appeared

A babe in a manger

Our God has come near

Sons awakened

By God’s blinding rays

Darkness defeated

By the Ancient of Days

Creation rejoicing

At God’s portal on earth

Death has been conquered

By the Son’s humble birth

HAPPY ANGELS AND HAPPY PREACHERS

Lk. 2:10,11 – 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.

This angel could be considered the first messenger to preach the gospel. The word gospel means to preach good news of great joy. The scene in Luke describes jubilant angels overflowing with joy. Didn’t Jesus Himself say that all of the angels break out in joy when one sinner repents? What else could angels do when they realized the One who had created them, the One they had worshipped since the day they were created, had become a human baby. Not just a human, but He had become the promised Savior of the world. It was impossible for them to restrain themselves, they exploded on the scene near Bethlehem with shouts and singing of joy. What was their purpose? They were to announce good news of great joy for all who would believe on Him. Here is how Martin Luther describes this scene.

“With these words the angel demonstrates the gospel most clearly and that nothing else is to be preached in Christendom….He does not say, “I preach to you,” but rather, “I speak gospel to you; I am an evangelist; my word is gospel.” Thus the word gospel means a good, joyful message which is the proclamation of the new covenant. What does the gospel say? Listen. He says: “I bring you good news of great joy; my gospel speaks of great joy.” Where is it? Listen again. “To you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord, today in Bethlehem in the city of David.”

See here what the gospel is, namely, a joyful sermon about Christ our Savior. Whoever preaches him rightly preaches the gospel and pure joy. How can a heart hear of greater joy than that Christ is given to him as his own? He not only says that Christ is born, but he also makes his birth our own by saying ‘your Savior’.”

I love what Luther says about this angel’s message, it was good news of great joy and that anyone who preaches rightly also preaches a gospel of pure joy. Why is it so joyful? He is our Savior. We were once slaves of sin, slaves of bad decisions and addictive behavior. We are now not only forgiven but forgiven and set free. Anyone who gets this will join the band of happy angels and happy shepherd preachers with a gospel of overflowing joy.

FOLLOWING THE STAR

Matt.2:1,2 – Jesus was born in Bethlehem near Jerusalem during the reign of King Herod. After Jesus’ birth a group of spiritual priests from the East came to Jerusalem and inquired of the people, “Where is the child who is born king of the Jewish people? We observed his star rising in the sky and we’ve come to bow before him in worship.

What would cause these powerful men to leave their families, home, and responsibilities to venture hundreds of miles at great expense to bring a quite expensive gift to a child in another country they had no way of knowing even existed. The only explanation was faith. They believed the ancient prophecies about a messiah to be born in Israel. These men felt like this trip would result in the defining moment of their lives, they wouldn’t be disappointed. From the day the star first appeared in the sky there was no question what they must do, they had to see the promised one for themselves. The story of these wise men from the east has been repeated countless times over the last 2000 years. Maybe you too have a stirring in your heart this Christmas season. If you do, like the wise men of old, you won’t be able to rest until you meet Him for yourself. Here is some amazing information from the Passion Notes.

“These wealthy priests would have traveled with an entourage for protection as officials from the East. The Greek word magos is taken from the Mede language and means “spiritual advisors” or simply “priests.” They were appointed by Darius over the state religion as priests of Persia, which is modern-day Iran, and served as official advisors to the king. By the time of Jesus’ birth, Persia had been conquered and was being governed by successors to Alexander the Great. It is possible these Magos came from the Mesopotamian region of Seleucia….It is probable that these Magos were descendants of those who had been taught by Daniel, and because of his prophecy of the Messiah being “cut off,” they may have been able to decipher the date of his birth along with the interpretation of his star rising.”

When these priests found themselves looking at the infant Savior of the world they could never be the same. They may have returned to their homeland, but they carried a joy with them the rest of their lives.

CHRIST CARRIERS

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

The story of Christmas never gets old to me. Angelic visitations, supernatural dreams. Ancient prophecies; these are the things when left out leave our hearts empty. One of those stories is Mary’s visitation. Probably just an ordinary day when it became anything but ordinary. An angel came to visit her. Not just any angel, mind you, it was Gabriel himself; fresh from the presence of the Lord. Gabriel came with a message about a supernatural pregnancy and birth, the messianic prophecies fulfilled, and the most shocking thing of all; Mary would give birth to the very Son of God. Nine months later the angels showed up again singing over the shepherds. This time they were announcing the birth of the One who would be the Savior of the world. These are the stories that make our lives come alive.

The greatest part of this story is right there in the message of the angels to the shepherds. They said, “today, in the city of David, is born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord”. Thats it, a Savior, this supernatural birth was about saving us from our sins. Here are some thoughts from Augustine on this amazing miracle birth.

“We were mortals. We were weighed down by our sins. Our sufferings we carted after us. From the moment we were born, we’ve been nagged by misery. No need to consult the School of Prophets on this account. Just put the question to the newborn, and you’ll see. Babies cry right from the start.

So this is the comedown God experienced when He came down to earth, and this is the comeuppance the earth experienced when the Day of days did finally arrive. “Truth has sprung from the earth.”….What’s the conclusion?

We should let mercy enter our hearts.

A mother carried Him in her womb—may we carry Him in our hearts.

The Virgin was made heavy with the Incarnation—may our breasts grow heavy with the faith of Christ.

The Virgin gave birth to the Savior—may our soul bring forth salvation, may it produce praise.”

That’s it in a nutshell, the whole point of the angels, dreams, and prophetic words was salvation. We are sinners in need of a Savior and that’s why Christ came. The Creator took on a body like the rest of His creation. From this amazing act of humility we become carriers of this amazing Lord.

NOT HAMPERED BY BAGGIE PANTS

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS

“But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” Phil. 2:7

If there is anyone that takes Advent to another level its St. Augustine. Using words as art he portrays the mystery in the manger. When God becomes man laying in a food trough who couldn’t speak yet created the worlds. What a moment to take it all in this precious season we are in! Get past the lights, the emptiness of the tinsel, push back the have nots and let time grow still. The star may surprise you at any turn, the manger becomes the portal to see the face of God. Immanuel is all around us, we just have to draw near. Do you hear what I hear? Do you stop and see what the Magi were looking for when all of Bethlehem cared not for they dared not look up? The wordless word comes in so many ways; be it star, the beat of the drummer boy’s drum, or shaggy shepherds seeing angels swirl. Augustine says, “when heaven became a tongue”. May we all use our voice is so many ways this Christmas!

Augustine goes on to say, “Deservedly, therefore, did the Prophets announce He’d be born; the Heavens and the Angels, that He’d been born. He lay in a manger, and yet the world rested in his hands. As an infant, He was wordless, and yet He was the Word Itself. Him whom the Heavens couldn’t huddle, the lap of a single woman could easily cuddle. She was toting about on her hip Him Who carries her about the universe. Her breasts were running, but they were enriching the Bread of Life.”

Can we just stop and read through the scriptures to see once again that a miracle is among us? Stretch forth the story of the manger, let the hay get into your stable mess and allow this baby, this Son of God, create your miracle again and again. On the day of his birth all came running from everywhere because of the hope it gave. And to this day we continue to do so, we join in the world wide festival of Christ coming down to man to make infertile fertile.

Again Augustine exclaims! “He didn’t stop holding His universe together with His mighty arms while He was trying to catch flies with His baby fingers. He put on the clumsiness of the flesh when He entered the Virgin’s womb, and yet His movement throughout the universe wasn’t hampered by the baggy pants. He didn’t take away the food of Wisdom from the Angels while He was supplying us with the sweetness of the Lord.”

The Apostle Paul said, “He emptied Himself and through this new form He was made in the likeness of men.” He comes to always bring his gift of Himself. Merry Christmas

JINGLE BELLS, CHESTNUTS, AND OTHER SONGS

Is.9:6 – For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Are you singing this Christmas? If we are not careful, all of our troubles can steal the song from our heart. Are you stuck on roasting chestnuts and jingle bells or have you shifted over to What Child is This? One look, one real gaze at this infant King will awaken His song in your heart. This is the song that angels can’t sing because they will never know the joy of redemption. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King. Take a look again at the ancient prophecies. Ponder the One Who is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Join the quest for the Desire of all Nations and the Seed of the woman. Go to Bethlehem longing for the One whose goings forth are from the days of eternity. You may find yourself on your face before Immanuel, God with us.

While everyone else seems to be caught up in the holiday excitement maybe you feel like you need a sign to push back the smothering cloud of disappointments and troubles. “All I want is a break in the action, a silver lining in the cloud – LORD, SHOW ME A SIGN”-Then it dawns on you – That’s exactly what Christmas is; the most beautiful sign of all. The child in the manger is a sign that Breakthrough is here now for all of us. As we stop for a moment and come again to Bethlehem- we too can find ourselves transported to a place beyond space and time. A place where our troubles get swallowed up by promises – our sicknesses are erased by scars – and our insecurities and shortcomings are washed away by the waves of love that encompass us.

All this talk of Christmas and where has it brought me? Am I still stuck on sleigh rides and candy canes or have I been captured by the eternal? If you have paused at the manger you have surely found yourself transported to another realm. In this realm our sorrows and worries disappear; as a matter of fact the person we were before disappears. We have found ourselves surprised by conception like Mary. Mary’s conception was Christ in her womb. Ours is Christ in our hearts. His presence in us guarantees that we can never be the same again. We have begun our transformation into the very image of Christ Himself.

THE WONDERFUL ONE

Isa.9:6 – A child has been born for us;a son has been given to us. The responsibility of complete dominion will rest on his shoulders, and his name will be: The Wonderful One! The Extraordinary Strategist! The Mighty God! The Father of Eternity! The Prince of Peace!

I love the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of Christ. I remember being mesmerized by these prophecies that were on many Christmas cards on that first Christmas in 1973 after I was born again. In those days, everyone sent Christmas cards. That was one of the great joys of Christmas, collecting and displaying the cards from family and friends. AsI pondered those prophetic verses that first Christmas the message of Christmas struck me profoundly for the first time. God Himself had come near. He had become one of us. He had actually taken on the body of a human, a human infant and had come to live among us. The ramifications of that revelation were deeply effecting in my life. I can’t remember any of my Christmas presents from that year but I remember this, the Son of God had come into our world. The Creator of all things somehow entered His own creation. The world could never be the same and I could certainly never be the same. The implications of the incarnation are too profound to understand. Here are some comments from one of Augustine’s Christmas sermons.

“The Creator of Mary is also the Son of Mary.

The Son of David and the Lord of David.

The seed of Abraham before there was an Abraham.

Maker of the earth and made on earth.

Creator of the heavens and created under the sky.

He’s “the day the Lord has made” (Psalm 118:24).

“He’s the light of my heart” (Song of Solomon, 3:11).

Let’s stroll in the light of His aura!

Let’s rejoice in His presence!

Let’s be truly glad He’s here with us today, of all days!”

That first Christmas for Parris and I was unforgettable. We were living in a 10 by 17 foot travel trailer and we had a “Charlie Brown” type Christmas tree. The trailer was decorated with those Christmas cards but best of all our hearts were burning with the fire of Immanuel, God with us. Christ was with us and nothing else really mattered. Maybe this Christmas you can rediscover the miracle of the birth of Christ. If that happens, everything else on the holiday schedule will not even matter.

PORTAL TO HEAVEN

Jn.1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jn.1:51 – And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The glory of Christmas, God taking on a human body, is impossible to fathom. We catch glimpses of it that take our breath away but far too often we are yawning at glory as the Christmas madness continues. Thinking about His birth can tie our brain in knots. Thinking about things like Mary giving birth to a fragile, vulnerable infant yet at the same time He is orchestrating all the events of Mary’s life. Or maybe sharing the feeding trough of an animal while He still fed all of the animals of the world. Then there is Jesus being nourished by the bosom of His mother knowing He formed His mother’s bosom in her mother’s womb. Take a moment and let Augustine take you on a journey gazing at the eternal invading His own creation.

“The Lord has made all things, and yet He takes His stand among the very things He’s made.

He’s the Revealer of His Father, and at the same time He’s the Creator of His mother.

He’s the Son of God born of the Father without a mother; and He’s the son of man born of a mother without a father….

He made the sun with His own hands, and yet He Himself was made under the light and heat of the sun.

He regulates human history from the bosom of His Father; and yet He consecrates this one particular day from the womb of His mother.

He remains with His Father, and yet He goes forth from His mother.

He’s the Creator of the heavens and the earth; and yet He takes His own rise under the heavens, that’s to say from the earth.

As God He has more Wisdom than He can mouth, and yet as a babe He hasn’t enough mouth to utter the Wisdom He knows….

He sets the stars in motion, and yet he sucks His mother’s breasts.

He’s so great as a God, yet so small as a slave….

He didn’t abandon His divine agenda when He picked up His carpenter’s tools.”

So Christmas is the bridge between eternity and this world encompassed by time and space. Living in this created world it is impossible to grasp eternal things. The humanity of Christ is our only portal into that beautiful world. Hope to see you there.

SILENT NIGHT

Lk.2:7 – And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Some songs just become part of our lives and our culture, ‘Silent Night’ is one of those songs. It’s message as well as its presence carries the sense of Christmas and why the world stands still on that one day. The first verse speaks of the supernatural peace that is associated with Christ. Obviously, Jesus was in the midst of turmoil all of His life. Hostility surrounded Him but it could never get in Him. From the day He was born to the day that He was killed, anything but peace dogged His steps. There was the order from Herod at His birth to kill every child in that region from two years old down. There was the attempt on His life when He first preached in His home town of Nazareth. He was hounded and ridiculed by the religious leaders every day of His ministry until He was finally crucified. Terror surrounded Him but inside “all was calm and all was bright”. The second verse speaks of angelic visitation and shepherds trembling in fear in the presence of the Lord. It also speaks of the manifestation of the glory of the Lord as the angels announced His birth. The final verse is the best. He is acknowledged as the Son of God. What an amazing revelation, the messiah would be God’s only begotten Son. This verse also describes the radiance of the glory shining from the face of Jesus. God’s glory is always always associated with the Lord Jesus. The song ends with the whole point of why Jesus was born, His birth announced the beginning of the age of redemption for fallen man. “Who so ever” can now call upon the Lord. Here are the words to this special song; read them carefully and don’t just skip over them. There may be a blessing hidden in the words of this song for you today.

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

‘Round yon virgin Mother and Child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight!

Glories stream from heaven afar;

Heavenly hosts sing Al-le-lu-ia!

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night

Son of God, oh, love’s pure light

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With the dawn of redeeming grace

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME COMES!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“The extension of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.” Is. 8:8

I can’t imagine four hundred silent years between the testaments in which the world saw no light, or no voice. Adam no longer walked in the garden, Moses had lost the shine, David no longer danced, and the glory took up its wings and left the temple. Occasionally God would appear but he would not linger. Tozer exclaimed “The eyes of fallen, sinful men were no longer able to endure the radiant majesty and glory of deity. This deep dark yawning mystery was wrought and accomplished without any compromise.” The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:4-7, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Gods eternal time clock was ticking.

On the Eve of Christmas we find ourselves yet again in the fullness of time. The world was a swirl opening up to receive the Christ that was to be born. Many of us have read Mary’s response to the angelic visit. She gave space for the visitation. Trappe remarks; “She made room for him, enlarged her thoughts of him and throws wide open the everlasting doors, that the King of glory my come in! My spirit rejoices and dances in God, for God is the matter and ground of my joy. The appointed time of the Father, who does all things in number, weight and measure, never comes too soon, neither stays he too long.”

Each response of Mary’s echoes prophecies from of old. She was drawing from the deep wells she had steeped herself in all throughout her life. Immanuel’s Land was cresting. Trappe says, “She had by much reading made her bosom Christ’s library” and compared her hunger as a “hunted hart brays after the water brooks, she breathes and brays after the brooks with utmost desire. This spiritual appetite and affections arises from a deep and due sense and feeling of our want of Christ, whole Christ and there is an absolute necessity of every drop of his blood.” The fullness of time comes to give us the true bread of life, the heavenly manna, the rock flowing with honey, a fountain of living water, that revives us over and over again. Let’s go and be a part of the miracle at that manger this eve of Christmas. He will meet us again and again.

“If Christ does not rule us, a mob of tyrants will. Our own passions, our own evil habits, all the fascinating sins around us. They soon cease to seem helpers, and become tyrants”. McClarens