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Entries in Advent (19)

Sunday
Dec042016

Christmas Favourites

One of the things that I love about Christmas is the regular re-visiting of favourites; whether it is food, decorations, or music, we all have our favourite things. My kids have their favourite Christmas cookies and treats, and we have our favourite music.

For the rest of December, I'm going to be posting on Sunday the songs that have been my favourites over the last few years.

Today, I offer Michael Card's "The Promise," which comes the CD with the same name. Both my husband and I consider this one of our favourite recordings.

The Lord God said when time was full
He would shine His light in the darkness
He said a virgin would conceive
And give birth to the Promise
For a thousand years the dreamers dreamt
And hoped to see His love
The Promise showed their wildest dreams
Had simply not been wild enough
But the Promise showed their wildest dreams
Had simply not been wild enough

Chorus:

The Promise was love and the Promise was life
The Promise meant light to the world
Living proof Jehovah saves
For the name of the Promise was Jesus

The Faithful One saw time was full
And the ancient pledge was honored
So God the Son, the Incarnate One
His final Word, His own Son
Was born in Bethlehem
But came into our hearts to live
What more could God have given
Tell me what more did He have to give
What more could God have given
Tell me what more did He have to give

Wednesday
Dec162015

The other side of Christmas joy

I love Christmas. I really do. As a child, after Hallowe'en, I would begin to daily check the weather forecast, hoping to see snow in it. My bedroom was full of poorly made paper snowflakes taped to the wall, and every year, my mother let me have a string of lights for my bedroom window. I listened to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" on a battered avacado green portable record player, and read everything I could about how other people celebrated Christmas.

It was the anticipation. It was the special baking my mother did. It was the candy dishes placed throughout the house. It was the traditions. They all made me love Christmas. It wasn't until I was converted to Christ that Christmas began to mean something different; something better. 

Despite this knowledge of the real reason why we celebrate Christmas, we still love the traditions, the decorations, and the good food. It's easy to forget that suffering is all around us at Christmas. A few situations lately have reminded me that for some, Christmas is not a joyous occasion this year; or maybe any year. Christmas can revive and exacerbate family tensions. It's supposed to be a time of family gatherings, but what if one is estranged from his family? Or doesn't have any family close by?

What if this is the first Christmas that someone is without his wife? Or a child without his mother? Or a mother without her child? What if someone is under the weight of a serious diagnosis? Or under the weight of financial hardship that makes Martha Stewart style decorating an impossibility? Or even buying gifts an impossibility?

The reality of the incarnation is the only thing that answers such questions. The incarnation is why we celebrate Christmas. The traditions are secondary to that reason. They are welcome and beautiful, but they are not necessary. A modest Christmas doesn't make it an un-Christmas. Being frugal with one's resources doesn't make one a Scrooge. Perhaps, it's a matter of necessity. While not everyone can celebrate Christmas traditions in the same way, we can all share in the joy of remembering the incarnation. The financially strapped family can rejoice in the story of the Christ child. The one suffering can rejoice in the fact that Christ came to bear burdens and end suffering. The ones who are estranged from loved ones can know that Christ came to bring reconciliation to sinful men.

It's trite but true. Christmas is not about the trappings; it's about the incarnation. If it was only ever about the trappings, what happens when things happen? Things like a fire that burns your home two weeks before Christmas? Or thing like losing a loved one? Or losing your job? Those trappings cannot provide lasting peace. But the One who came to bring peace can.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:8-11)

Sunday
Dec062015

Let All Mortal Flesh

Second Sunday in Advent

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of Kings, Yet born of Mary,
As of old earth He stood,

Lord of Lords, In human vesture,
In the body and the blood;

He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads it's vanguard on the way,
As Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,

That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to his presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
“Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!” 

Sunday
Nov292015

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Here we are at the first Sunday of Advent. One of my favourite Christian singers is Fernando Ortega. And one of my favourite Christmas carols, is this one.

 

Sunday
Dec212014

Fourth Sunday in Advent

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 ESV)

 

Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great power and might succor us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we be sore let and hindered, thy bountiful grace and mercy, through the satisfaction of thy son our Lord, may speedily deliver us; to whom with thee and the holy ghost be honor and glory, world without end.