Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I grew up in a family with a lot of traditions.

Thanksgiving is really the beginning of the Christmas season for us. Starting with the annual watching of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning. Thanksgiving itself was always a day full of food, family, and football - much like every other American family. Ever.

The day after Thanksgiving, we decorate for Christmas, eat Christmas Cap'n Crunch, drink Dad's special homemade hot chocolate, watch "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," and crank the Christmas music :)

The Christmas music is pretty much a permanent fixture at that point until after January 1st.

The number of presents we "traditionally" open on Christmas Eve is hotly contested (some years it was just one, some years we opened all of the presents with only stockings saved for Christmas morning), but we almost always went to a Christmas Eve service. Sometimes more than one. Growing up in Colorado Springs, we had quite the smorgasbord of options. Some years they were quite elaborate, such as the full scale production put on by New Life Church. Other years the church where my dad pastored held a sweet, simple candle-light service.

Advent wreaths and readings, shopping, wrapping presents, the ever-growing list of Christmas "classic" movies that we would watch. All of it made for very fun and memorable seasons of my childhood.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year I got to play Mary in a variety-style program. My Dad sang "A Strange Way to Save the World" , and my aunt helped me memorize and dramatize a beautiful reading. There's something about internalizing the emotions of those so closely tied to the original Christmas story that makes those Scriptures and stories come alive.

And I think that's really the point. These traditions we create and pass on to our children are completely pointless and worthless if they do not build into our celebrations, and eventually bleed out in our lifestyles, deep appreciation for the true wonder of the season.

The absolute magnificence and glory of the mystery that is the incarnation. Christ coming to earth. God condescending to become human.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
(Isaiah 53:4a NLT)

I hope that in the midst of all the craziness of Christmas, you know the true beauty of Christ, that you have personally experienced his unfathomable love for YOU! Because when it comes right down to it, that's all that really matters.


Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

The first missionaries . . .


(To see the full-size image, click here)

So they hurried off and found
Mary and Joseph, and the baby,
who was lying in the manger.

When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning
what had been told them about
this child, and all who heard it
were amazed
at what the shepherds
said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these
things and pondered them in
her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying
and praising God for all the things
they had heard and seen, which were
just as they had been told.
Luke 2:16-20

Friday, December 21, 2012

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"

This Christmas carol is swiftly becoming one of my favorites, and I love this version by Steven Curtis Chapman!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

May you take time this season to bask in the beauty of the One we celebrate!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

". . . a child is born . . ."


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Seasonal Encouragement

Today is December 19th. is telling me that today is the last day to order for shipping before Christmas.

Monday we got the dreaded "all of the gifts you sent broke in the mail" phone call.

broken polish pottery

Austin and I are making weekend plans, mostly to distract ourselves from the fact that this will be our third Christmas in a row away from home and family.

Twenty families in Connecticut are mired in grief that no family should ever have to confront, and certain "Christians" are all set up to picket the vigil in celebration of "God's judgment."

We had beautiful snow at the beginning of the month, but it has been raining for the past few days, and now it's just pretty gloomy.

(Sorry to be a downer.)

Needless to say, I needed this today:

I hope this blesses you as much as it did me. Praising the Lord that He is present in all of these circumstances, and that His love and wisdom are greater than I could ever grasp!