Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Meditation: A Life Fulfilled

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” 
Luke 2:25-32

 At 38 I have lived a rich life.  I’ve been to amazing places and done amazing things.  But I have so many joys yet to come. I want to run a half-marathon and have a book published. I want many more Christmases to watch my family grow up.  I want sons-in-law and grandchildren to surround my tree.  I have so much life to live!

Simeon had lived too.  We don’t know his story.  Had his life had been full of adventure or the joys of domesticity?  Did he have happy memories of Passovers and Hanukahs?  Of days spent admiring the glory of the Lord in the temple?  All we know about his story is the end of it, the fulfillment of his life’s hopes and dreams. 

He saw Jesus. 

If somehow all the wonder and richness of my life on earth were stolen away, may I always be satisfied because with the eyes of faith I have seen the salvation God sent so long ago!


Ps.  This will be our last post for the month.  But we are excited to be rejoining you after New Year.  And if you have meditations on the wonders of Jesus' arrival here on earth we'd love to read them.  Leave us a link (or a copy) in the comments!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Meditation: Building a Home for God

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth focused on Joseph.  He was a man who was “faithful to the law,” a good God-fearing Jew.  The kind of guy who would be at synagogue every Saturday, marry a virgin, and refuse to trim the edges of his beard. He wasn’t the kind of guy who would get his girlfriend pregnant and suffer a shot-gun wedding.  Not the kind of guy who would be raising his wife’s child.

Yet he was the kind of guy who was faithful in another way.  He had the merciful loving kindness of his God. The kind of mercy that refused to add to the public disgrace of a young girl.  The kind of faithfulness that hears the voice of God and remains celebate with the wife he married until the birth of her son. He could be trusted to give the most important name in the world “Immanuel”-God is with us-to that boy. 

The family in the stable wasn’t perfect.  No family is.  We live in a world where the 2 parent, 2 child, picket fence life has all but disappeared.  Joseph’s story is worth telling again and again.  By his faithfulness, by his obedience, by his mercy, he created a home for God himself. 


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Meditations: A New Nativity Scene

   A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Revelation 12:1-6

The 7 headed dragon as pictured by my 14 year old
I want to see a nativity scene where the meek looking Mary is replaced by the crowned and shining woman with the moon under her feet.  Then instead of cows lowing, we will have a dragon roaring while she labors.  Instead of an infant in the manger we will have the triumphant ruling Christ caught up to the Father. 

Are you having trouble imagining this one set up on your coffee table?  I can’t blame you, yet it’s as real a picture as the other.  (When you consider that the wise men didn’t show up until Jesus was probably 2, it is a more accurate picture.)  

The 7-headed dragon as pictured by my 7 year old.
As much as I love the story of Jesus’ birth, as much truth as I see in his meek beginnings, those little figurines we put up only tell one aspect of the story.  The years that Israel labored and waited for the birth of Jesus, the way that she was glorified by God’s favor, the fact that this wasn’t any ordinary baby but the son who Isaiah promised and the King that the psalmist heralded, these are facets we mustn’t miss. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Meditations: Pregnancy Announcement

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

“A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;”   When my husband and I got married, we knew that the chances of us having children of our own was very slim.  We were resigned to the idea of a tidy life without the joys that child-filled Christmases bring. So when despite all medical powers of prediction, we discovered we were pregnant with our oldest child, we understood what joy could be in the words “A child will be born to us.”  

In some amazing and powerful way, Israel was pregnant (Revelation 12:1-6).  She would eventually give birth to the much longed for son.  This was the child of promise the people had been waiting for since God promised Abraham “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18). 

We mustn’t read over the words too quickly.  This baby had been longed for not for 10 years but for thousands.  He wasn’t coming to complete an ordinary family but the numerous-as-the-stars-family of Abraham.  He is the longed for son not only of Israel but all the nations. Isaiah sends out the world’s most joyful pregnancy announcement-“For a child will be born to us!”


Friday, December 11, 2015

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Henry Ossawa Tanner - Angels Appearing before the Shepherds

2000 years ago, some shepherds heard a message. 

Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Room For Reindeer

Today the world is getting me down.  Outside are the terrorists. Inside we have people who react to the violence of a few by hating the many. There are sorrows closer to home - loved ones with cancer, believers who seem to be slipping away, evangelism that failed, and divorce and marital strife among those I care about.   I didn’t want to plan Christmas posts.  I didn’t want to think about December.  My mood is black.  There is no room for reindeer.

I suspect I am not the only one suffering so.

Yet Christmas is around the corner.  Does the holiday have anything to say to us, those who are struggling to find the spirit of the season?

Oh yes.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Spiritual Gift-giving Guide: 2015 Edition

It’s that time again! Time to bust your brains thinking of gifts to buy for everyone on your list.  If you are like me, you like to give meaningful gifts without breaking the bank.  Last year, we made a gift giving guide for spiritually uplifting gifts” for adults and kids that fit the bill perfectly, and we’d like to do the same this year.  We have reviewed most of these books over the last twelve months and found them to be of benefit to us in our spiritual journeys.  We’d buy them for our loved ones, and we’d like to recommend them for yours