This past Sunday we lit the Bethlehem Candle to remind ourselves of the preparations Mary and Joseph made for Jesus’ birth. As we close this week, let’s review the four main New Testament passages that tell us how Joseph and Mary prepared for Jesus’ birth. Try to imagine what they thought and felt as they were getting ready for Jesus’ arrival. If you don’t have a Bible handy, click on the link for each passage so you can read the text. If you’re pressed for time, choose one or two sections to work through now, and save the rest for later.[Read more…]
Do you ever feel as if your life is like a roller coaster heading downhill? Everything is whizzing by so quickly that you can’t focus on anything—it’s all just a blur. The days leading up to Christmas can feel that way. Sometimes we need to slow down and refocus our gaze on God’s gracious gift.[Read more…]
We live in a society that craves speed. We want overnight delivery, high speed Internet access, short lines in stores, and fast food. Well, maybe we should scratch the fast food. Most of us would trade speedy service for healthier and higher quality food. But, in general, waiting doesn’t rank high on our list of favorite activities; and patience is a virtue we appreciate in other people.
Simeon, on the other hand, waited for years just to spend a few minutes with Jesus.[Read more…]
Almost every good story includes both leading and supporting actors. The Biblical narrative surrounding Jesus’ birth is no exception. Yesterday we looked at a leading actor—Mary. Today we’re considering a supporting actor—Joseph. Although Mary had the larger role, Joseph was right there with her, helping her all the way.[Read more…]
Have you ever wondered what preparing for Jesus’ birth must have been like for Mary? Was she excited? Was she afraid? How did her family and friends react and relate to her? How did she make it through those nine months after the angel Gabriel told her she was going to be the mother of God’s Son? Pregnancy is challenging enough. Knowing that she was carrying God’s Son must have been almost overwhelming.[Read more…]
Feelings of disappointment and discouragement go hand-in-hand with life in a broken world. These emotions remind us that all is not as it should be.
For many people the weeks leading up to Christmas are especially challenging. The activities and expectations of the season, the shorter days and longer nights, and even the elusive hope for the perfect Christmas experience all take their toll on our emotions. Those who are prone to despair and depression can find this time of year to be particularly difficult.[Read more…]
As we begin the second week of Advent, now is a good time to take stock of how our preparations for Christmas are going. Have you bought any presents yet (never mind having actually finished your shopping)? Have you put up any decorations? Did you finish off all of your Thanksgiving leftovers?
What about the spiritual side of getting ready for Christmas? Often we start strong, but then we fade after a few days or a week. If that describes you, don’t be discouraged; today is a great day to restart![Read more…]
Invasions are usually costly. The invasion of Normandy on D-Day claimed the lives of about 5000 Allied soldiers, and at least that many Germans died as well. Jesus’ invasion of Earth cost one life—His. Although we don’t normally think about Jesus’ death and resurrection at Christmas—we wait until Easter to do that—we can’t fully appreciate Christmas without remembering that Easter is coming.[Read more…]
Would you send a baby to lead the invasion of a planet? Actually, would you send a baby to be the entire invading army? Wouldn’t a large, well-armed group of veteran fighters be a better idea? Why would anyone send a baby?[Read more…]
Imagine being in a totally dark room, unable to see your hand in front of your face. Now imagine if someone were to light a candle in that room. Although the candle’s flame would not be very bright, you would be able to see it from anywhere in that dark room.[Read more…]