8 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. Matthew 1:8-24
Emmanuel by Love and The Love & The Outcome
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When I was in grad school there was a house near campus that had an eclectic Christmas display. It started out with a normal light display. One year the residents didn’t take the Christmas lights down. Instead they added seasonal decorations throughout the year. They would just leave up the previous seasonal/holiday decorations. Eventually the entire yard became a huge mash-up of lights and “holiday” themed inflatables. I think one year I even saw live animals. The most notable was the Easter bunny next to the Shepherds in the nativity scene.
Many times I think we are like that yard. It is easy to focus on all of the stuff of Christmas. Christmas time is one of my favorites. I enjoy the music, gift giving and other special things. It is easy to become busy buying gifts, decorating, parties, special events. It doesn’t happen maliciously but somehow the Easter Bunny ends up in the nativity scene. (Yes, I know the Wise men don’t historically belong in the Nativity scene but that is another post.)
My challenge this year is to not lose sight of the meaning of Christmas during Advent:
- To make a conscious effort to take time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas not just the stuff of Christmas.
- To reflect God’s love and not channel the Grinch.
- To take time to enjoy family and friends.
- To celebrate the first Christmas gift.
Performed by Relient K
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 NIV
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I had intended to write this yesterday or even earlier today. Unfortunately, I’ve had a hectic weekend. Normally, I cram my Saturday with taking care of things I can’t do during the week. Now I’ve added all of the Christmas extras. It is easy to focus on the activities and Christmas preparations and forget the real reason for the season.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version)