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Anticipating Christmas – Patience part 4

Ohio’s beautiful trees took their time bursting into fall color this year. My October 22 birthday often comes during peak leaf season, but some years the trees have been bare by then.  We wondered whether 2017 would ever bless us with Autumn’s brilliance. The last day of October passed and as November arrived, our neighborhood was transformed.

I often hear people say that they like the fall season, but not what follows – the cold of winter. While I’d like to keep the days from getting shorter and colder and the beautiful leaves from falling, I’ve turned the calendar page to November and know that December is quickly approaching. And with it, Christmas.

On November 1, some folks gave themselves permission to listen to Christmas music since Halloween is over . These lovers of the holiday season may have groaned when Christmas trees appeared in stores during August, but now eagerly await an acceptable day to put up their own Christmas trees . If their window shades are down, you can bet they’re secretly watching a favorite Christmas movie well before Thanksgiving. I’m not one of those folks, however, I did practice some Christmas music with fellow flutists this week in preparation for performing at church. And I did begin to make plans with our sons and daughter-in-law for a Christmas gathering in December.

At our mall in 2014. I’m in the middle.

When you hear that there are only 48 days until Christmas, how do you feel? Depending on my state of mind, I might feel amazed that the year is passing so quickly, pleased that I already have several gifts purchased, or a bit anxious about all that will need to be done in preparation for December 25. I’m hoping that the mall holds off on playing Christmas music for a few more weeks.  I’d like to enjoy the beauty of November before seeing Christmas lights come on in our neighborhood. Some areas of Ohio have already seen snowflakes, and I know that it won’t be long until they fall. The sparkly winter season will bring its own delight.

Those who have much excitement about getting to Christmas will need some patience as these weeks pass. For some folks, patience will be needed to get through the holiday season. Perhaps life has changed in a way that makes celebrating difficult. There may be memories of happier family Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas festivities that stand in contrast to today’s circumstances. If you’re one of those people, I hope that you will know the peace and presence of God this year and will find a meaningful way to celebrate.

Having grown up in the Christian faith, my family has observed a season of waiting for Christmas called Advent. This year Advent begins on December 3. Beginning that Sunday, Christian church services will include a focus on the anticipation that ancient Israelites had for the prophesied Messiah. They waited, not knowing how long the wait would be. While we may feel impatient for Christmas to arrive each year, we can count down the days with certainty as to when we will commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised One, who came into the world to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)

A second focus of Advent, meaning “coming”, is the birth of Jesus in individual  hearts and lives.  As we sing Joy to the World, we celebrate the Lord’s coming and plead, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Jesus enters into every life circumstance, whether happy or sad, and every home where He is welcome, whether it is extravagantly decorated or very humble.

The third focus of Advent requires much more patience than waiting for December 25. Christian faith includes belief that Jesus was resurrected after his death by crucifixion and ascended into the clouds after appearing to many people. The Bible contains prophecies, including the words of Jesus himself, that He will return to the earth at an appointed time that no one knows except God the Father (see Matthew 24:36). God’s salvation will be completed.

Patient waiting, accompanied by obedience to the one we have believed will be rewarded.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8,9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BREAD

I worked on two different blog posts yesterday, one entitled “Transformation” and one with the working title “Am I Addicted?” This is neither of those.  They’ve been shelved for possible revision and posting at a later date.  To alleviate any concern about the second title, it refers to my first intentional fast from e-mail and the internet, which occurred yesterday.  Had it not been for the fast, I would have added one of the two writings to Thoughts Collected.  I’m glad I didn’t. 

With some new insights about my use of connected devices, I resumed reading an on-line Lenten devotional this morning, scrolled through Facebook (looks like most of what I missed yesterday was pictures of pets), and opened my e-mail inbox to find 48 messages, 43 of which I deleted without opening.  I share below someone else’s words which made the cut, impacted me, and I now pass along to you.  If you are interested in the source of this writing, please follow this link to Words of Hope.

In Remembrance of Me
April 12, 2017

Read: Luke 22:14-20

This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. (v. 19)

Ask someone to talk about their happiest memories, and see how quickly they mention food. The smell of home-baked bread, Thanksgiving dinner, the chocolate chip cookies your mom used to make when you were a child—it’s remarkable how many of our best memories revolve around eating.

Think about the role food plays in the story of salvation. Manna from heaven, the Passover meal, the feeding of the 5,000, the fatted calf slain when the prodigal son returned home, the disciples sitting on the beach, by the Sea of Galilee, eating baked fish with the resurrected Jesus—again and again God’s people experience God’s grace when partaking of food.

The most significant meal in the story of salvation is the Last Supper. Down through the centuries Christian writers and preachers have used countless words to try to explain the meaning and significance of this meal. Yet Luke’s telling of the story is elegant in its simplicity: “This is my body,” said Jesus, “which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me . . . This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (vv. 19-20).

I have served and partaken of the elements countless times. But those words still stop me in my tracks, and put a lump in my throat: “given for you . . . poured out for you.” Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of salvation.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

 

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THE Daily Deal

 

NO MORE TIME TO PONDER OR PROCRASTINATE!

 

It is time to write my Christmas 2016 blog post!  I took this photo at our mall yesterday, so the countdown is at 4 days.  If you are taking a few minutes out of this busy week to read this post, I want to respect your time and show my appreciation by getting right to the point.

According to the Christmas angels, joy and peace were given by God when Jesus was born.  So where is the peace?  If we put aside the material things on our wish lists and honestly answer the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” many of us would say world peace.  Some really honest people might answer “peace of mind” or peace with a person or situation.

 According to The Free Dictionary, peace is

1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
          2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.
                                                         3. Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations.
                                                       4. Public security and order: was arrested for disturbing the peace.
           5. Inner contentment; serenity: peace of mind.

While I’ve been making notes and thinking about the focus of my first Christmas blog post, I have also been reading “The Purpose of Christmas” by Rick Warren.  He describes Christmas as A Time for Celebration, A time for Salvation, and A Time for Reconciliation.

Warren asks, “Is peace on earth really possible, or is it an unattainable fantasy?”  He then describes two causes for conflict, the opposite of peace.  The first is our natural self-centeredness. When I want everything my way and you want it your way, we clash unless we can compromise.  The second cause, says Warren, is “expecting others to meet needs in our lives that only God can meet.  We make demands of others instead of looking to God.”

He also states that we may not have realized that if we are trying to live our way instead of God’s way, we are in conflict with God.  This causes tension in the mind and fatigue in the body. Here’s where Christmas comes in!  God sent his son, Jesus, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).  That is good news.

Warren says it this way, and I am living proof that “Jesus can replace the frustration in your heart with peace, replace your guilt and shame with forgiveness, replace your worry and anxiety with confidence, replace your depression with real hope, and fill your emptiness with meaning and purpose” IF we invite him in.   Christmas is a wonderful time to accept peace with God through faith in Jesus.

Unlike the Daily Deals that we’ve been receiving in our e-mails, this offer will not end at midnight on Christmas Eve or at 12:01 on December 26.  Jesus paid the full price for peace with God. He was born as a baby, but grew to a man who lived a godly life, taught about his Kingdom, and gave himself as a sacrifice so we could trade our sinfulness for His righteousness and live eternally in God’s presence.  That’s an offer we shouldn’t refuse.

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2

 

 

 

 

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