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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Luke 1:61

I love the story of how John the baptizer got his name. When his mom told the neighbors and relatives his name was going to be John, they said, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." His dad had been mute for nine months because he had seen a vision and doubted God’s message and now these yokels are questioning their decision to name their son John instead of after dad. Just like nosey neighbors and relatives to butt in. I can see Zechariah get red in the face and a big vein pop out his forehead when they question him and his wife about the name – "Are you people freakin’ nuts!? I’ve been mute for nine months and you’re questioning what God has said? What is the matter with you!?"

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Christmas Thoughts: Mary

Speaking of disadvantages… A unwed teenager from a religion and culture that frowned on sex before marriage? I’m just saying that it looks like you went out of your way to go against human thought and reason when you gave us your son. It is a good thing you are God. Otherwise people might doubt this actually happened.

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Christmas Thoughts: Shepherds

God, seriously… Shepherds? Of all the people you could have picked to whom to announce the birth of your son, you picked a group that spends its time with animals and is not necessarliy the most influential in society. It’s almost like you intentionally wanted Jesus to start life with a disadvantage.

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Baby Jesus for Sale

While Googleing for a figurine of Santa kneeling before Jesus, Google displayed a link titled, "baby jesus For Sale." I laughed. I don’t know why I found it funny, but it just struck me as raw reality; of what Christmas really seems to be about.

I am reminded of a song with the line, "Do we store away Jesus, too?" I heard the song on the radio the other day and it had been years since I last heard that song. The song title is "All Year Long," and it is song by Larnelle Harris. It is a powerful line. Christmas was less than two weeks ago and it seems like a lifetime ago. It seems like I may have stored away Jesus when the New Year began.

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The pastor’s sermon on Sunday touched on a thought I don’t think I ever thunk. God’s interruption of the lives and plans of Mary and Joseph. They probably had dreams similar to most people. Something like the American Dream or maybe just your normal, average ideal of what life is supposed to be like: Get married, get a good job, have 2.5 kids, live in a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom house with a wrap-around porch, an attached two camel garage and a white-picket fence. Land ‘o Goshen that’s the life!

Can you imagine what Mary was going through? We have a tidy picture of how things went, but if we remember Mary as a real person and not what she has become, we are jolted by the reality of her situation. How did her parents react to her pregnancy? How did she explain that Joseph was not the one who got her pregnant? If we think God’s interruptions into our days causes inconvenience, how do you think Mary and Joseph felt? We have some of the good responses in our Bibles, but there is a lot of time during her pregnancy that is not recorded. Surely there were some down times as well as the good. It is true that these two would have had to have been exceptionally sensitive to the Lord throughout their lives to be used for this purpose but, still, I can’t imagine the snickering, gossip, slander, etc. that must have gone on. Plus, they had to wrestle with letting go of their own dreams.

I’ve tried to apply these thoughts to my life, but I find myself still fighting through the vine-covered jungle that is the American Dream (and also the American Ministry Dream). Expectations from those with no Kingdom vision, as well as my slow recovery from years of drinking the toxic waste that is the American Ministry Dream have poisoned me. The gap between thus sayeth the Lord and the American Dream is wide, nay, insurmountable. I am reminded of a quote from Braveheart: "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives." I am also reminded of a definition of a hero and a coward: A hero is someone who dies only once. A coward is someone who dies several times a day. I think I have died several times a day for awhile now and, as God wakes me, I am starting to smell my stink of decomposition. Good thing God can raise the dead!

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As Christmas draws near, I find myself wishing I had done more. Wish I would have hung Christmas lights outside, written more Christmas cards, invested more time reading the birth narratives in the Bible and written more. Of course, I say that in light of the fact that, over the next nine days, I only have to work one day. So, I am a little more relaxed and am able to invest time in reflection. Now that I have gotten those thoughts out of my head and onto the page, I realize I did what I could do and that’s okay. If I have grown through these last few weeks, then God be praised and I look forward to putting his lessons in practice next December. No sense wasting any time with “I wish”es.

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Heard something again today. Only heard it one other time. One of the local Christian radio stations (the same one that has billboards that say, "Santa listens") was talking of the meaning of the season and talked about how the real meaning of the season was bigger than Santa, etc.

How about different than Santa, etc.? Very different. Jesus is not a thought we throw in there to make ourselves feel better as we chase our tails. Jesus is not a thought to be bookended between normal Christmas stuff as though we suddenly realize we have forgotten who we are and who we worship and, after saying a half-hearted, "Let’s not forget the reason for the season," we go right back to the insanity.

Different. That is who Jesus is. That is what he is.

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