~ Pulpit Ponderings ~
The Grace, Mercy, and Peace of our Lord and Savior – Christ Jesus – be with each of you and your families during this Holy Season. Gayle and I are so blessed to have spent this last year – our first – with such a gracious and caring congregation and we love y’all dearly. I have found great comfort in knowing you have been with me during this time and willing to try many new things.
Well . . . just before Halloween, I saw my first commercial for Christmas. What’s with that? Here we are still eating left over “Trick-or-treat” goodies (or at least some of us are) and it is time for thinking of Christmas commercials. It might be our economic state that is causing businesses to get a jump start on Christmas sales. Nope! I believe that each year we get earlier and earlier in trying to commercialize what is supposed to be a Holy Holiday for the Christian world. Yes, it is a Holy Holiday for all the Baptized in Christ Jesus. Somehow we tend to forget that – or at least until after Halloween. Then we remember to start thinking about saying “Happy Holidays” (God forbid we say “Merry Christmas” to anyone that might be offended by such a non-secular greeting – we wouldn’t be inclusive or politically correct – would we?)
I am providing my readers a few quotes by famous and not so famous people that might get you thinking about what Christmas is normally thought to be:
is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill,
to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
-- Calvin Coolidge
we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska
won't make it ‘white’.”
-- Bing Crosby
merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. “Bah!” said
-- Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
is the season when people run out of money before they run out of friends.”
-- Larry Wilde
isn't a season. It's a feeling.”
-- Edna Ferber (Roast Beef Medium)
will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
-- Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
Now for what I believe Christmas is all about!
Christmas is not about the Stable, the Manger, the Angels, the Shepherds, or the Magi. It is not about how big or decorated the Christmas tree is, how much tinsel or lights there are; it is not about how lavishly decorated the home is, or how many presents are under the tree. It is not about our modern Santa Claus or what we get as gifts on Christmas morning. It is not about what is served for Christmas dinner, or how many guests are invited.
Christmas is about the Cross. The Cross represents the greatness of God’s love for all of us. It is about the giving of Himself as a new born babe to be sacrificed for our evilness as represented in our sins. It is about the sacrifice of Himself for us that we might attain salvation through the blood of the babe – grown into a man who lived among us, teaching us, and showing us the way. A man who would give us hope for eternal life in God’s kingdom.
This is what Christmas is all about. We get so caught up in “things” that we forget what Christmas really means. I know that God is pleased that we enjoy Christmas so much, but I believe that He is disheartened that we forget its true meaning. Yes, enjoy this time of revelry and “merry making” but do not forget that which God intended it to be: the celebration of an immense love, given so graciously and debt-free.
Gayle and I pray that the members of this gracious church here “Deep in the Heart of Texas” will enjoy Christmas, celebrate its meaning, give graciously and generously to their family and friends, and love each other as we have been commanded to do. During this joyous time remember God and all the things He has done, is doing, and will do for us because He loves us beyond all measure or imagination.
His Peace and Blessings to all of you, as you continue to believe, have hope, and do the work of the Lord.
As Always – In His Grip …
Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) and, oh yes…
“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”
Buddy, Gayle, Margie,
Sophie, & Braden
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” – Isaiah 52:7