Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent- Salvation, Children Need Christmas

Children Need Christmas- There is something absolutely magical in Christmas. Early Christmas morning as the sun is still fast asleep the lights on the tree are twinkling and shimmering in the reflection of the antique ornaments and illuminating the handmade treasures from years gone bye. All of the beauty and magic of the morning is secondary to the glow and treasure in the eyes of the children.

Excitement is rampant and its fever pitch is evidenced in dancing and prancing little feet, giggles and fun sounds. Moms and dads, with little sleep, take their places on the sofa or their chair. On the table next to dad's chair sits the family Bible. He reads of angels playing their trumpets and announcing the birth of a baby. Little smiles and forming imaginations try and capture a hill with angels and shepherds, and most of all a baby lying in the feeding crib for the animals.

Moments later wrapping paper is flying in every direction possible. Baby Dolls and pretty dresses are admired as mom puts her new robe and slippers next to her on the sofa. Dad puts his new slippers on and admires the perfect fit. In a few minutes the wrapping paper is all balled up and in the garbage. The toys, games and dolls are finding life and mom and dad sit next to each other, sigh and take in the wonder of that Christmas.

Children Need Christmas I am convinced that all children need Christmas magic. There is something about the human spirit that finds life and energy in the miracle of Christmas. Children must have an opportunity to look at the world as a magical place where lights twinkle, angels sing, people smile and the world takes on the presence of peace and goodwill. Children must be able to celebrate the magic of the morning and mystery of the feeding crib.

The truth of giving gifts out of hearts of love and goodness finds its perfect union in the Christmas story. A child holding a gift given out of love can easily understand God giving all of us a gift of love. A young child has little difficulty in listening to the angels sing of a special little baby born to teach the world what love is all about. The entire Christmas story is so special yet almost normal to the heart of a child.

Children Need Christmas  Sadly, the magic of St. Nicholas and Christmas give way to age and skepticism. The Christmas story becomes routine and the mystery of Angels singing and Shepherds searching is lost in the stress of the mall, traffic jams and irritated Old Children.  The sound of music from the street corner beckons us to listen, to become a child, to believe, to wonder, to hope, to pray. "God help me to be a child again. Help me to find the twinkle, the magic, the mystery, again. God, children need Christmas. I want to be a child again".

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Incarnation- The hope of mankind

Incarnation- The Hope of Mankind
We are another week closer to Christmas. In a few days the stores will be filled with folks like me. Yes, I am a last minute shopper for Christmas, always have been, always will be. Besides hating all shopping there is one positive reason I wait. As the days get closer to Christmas the mood of people gets closer to Christmas. The check out folks, already tired, mange to give a genuine, Merry Christmas. In spite of the hustle and bustle most people seem to be in the Christmas spirit. And the Christmas music sounding over the intercom systems in the malls and city centers has been fruitful.

Of all the Christmas music that is played there is that one most meaningful to me. The hymn, Come, O Come, Emmanuelle, is my favorite. Not only do I love to listen to it, I like to sing it. The words speak to me about mankind and our need of a savior. The refrain, Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuelle shall come to thee O Israel. The hope of all mankind is found in one single word, Emmanuelle. Our spelling is Immanuel. Immanuel, God with us. God of Creation became God in the flesh. God, first at home in the womb of a young woman.

Mary knew that her child was from God. I don't think that she really understood all of the truth that was now living within her body. Within her womb was the only and absolute hope of salvation for all of mankind, past, present and future men, women, boys and girls.

The child within her grew and developed just as all children. She gave birth the way all women give birth. She felt the pain and then the absolute joy that comes in holding new life. She nursed him and cared for him as the blessing and passion of motherhood compelled.

Incarnation- The perfect DNA of God-Man. Within the womb of Mary was the miracle of incarnation. The perfect union of God and man. Her child, the Christ of God, was and is God. Christ is the Second Person in the Trinity. He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. It is a mystery that I will never fully understand. Yet, I believe it with all of my soul. Why do I believe? Because I have witnessed the truth of the God-Man in the changing and transforming of people.

As God, Christ was able to offer up His sinless life as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of all mankind. The Holiness of God demanded a spotless sacrifice, unblemished and perfect in form. In spite of temptations and human weakness Jesus Christ was without sin. In his struggle with temptations he was victorious because of his submission to the Father's will and his love for mankind.

As man, Jesus understood what humanity was like. He witnessed the dire poverty of the destitute and the leper. His heart knew the pain felt by the beggars and the blind. And, he knew of the arrogance and pride that fueled the rich and ruling class. With God-eyes he clearly saw into the hearts of all. With man-eyes he understood the pain and need of mankind.

He went to the sacrificial tree free of sin and spot. The required sacrifice to atone for sin. The love that beat within his human heart supported him as he ceased the eternal struggle for mankind's salvation. For, when he bowed his head and died, incarnation sealed our opportunity to have a place at the banquet table within the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christ is The Creator

Walking out on my porch the morning sun has to fight its way through our massive Blue Spruce. At my perch, a padded chair, I watch the birds, squirrels and traffic. The overhang of the porch shields me from the afternoon sun until early evening. I have spent hours on that porch with countless cups of coffee and an occasional Blue Moon.

I love watching the sparrows as they dart in and out of the tree. In a storm they get in close to the massive trunk and find shelter until the storm passes by. The squirrels climb the wires, scurry along our sidewalk and generally do squirrel things. That is until the walnuts start dropping from the trees up and down the streets. For the last couple of years we have helped the busy guys by gathering the nuts and putting them on the porch.

Nature is such a marvelous gift to us. There is very little that feeds my soul more than watching the creatures of the earth and looking upon the flowers, plants and trees. So much I take for granted. The sun light that brings life to everything upon this planet is always  faithful in its rising and setting. I walk out in the sunlight with little thought that it took about nine minutes to travel to me and give light to my porch. In the evening, when the fireflies are dancing, the old man sent his light to me almost two seconds before I gazed up at him.

Scientist tell us, and I have no reason to doubt them, that the universe is about 14.3 billion years old. Some say a bit more and some say a bit less. But what's a million years here or there. Now, if I wanted to drive myself nuts I would try and calculate how big the universe really is. The math is pretty simple, to get the number in the ball park. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second and the scientist tell us that the light from the big bang has been zipping along for around 14 billion years. So, multiply 14 billion times how far light would travel in a year. You do the math.

The Psalmist said, "Praise the name of the Lord, He commanded and they were created. He set them in place forever and ever," in reference to the heavens and the waters. In the New Testament the Gospel of John declares Christ to be the creator as do the books of Colossians and Hebrews. At a single point in time Christ commanded elements into being and cast them into miraculous order and harmony forming our universes.

I do not have a problem with people calling the origin of the expanding universe the Big Bang. The elements that make up life and the universe had a beginning, and so must of had a creative power to bring them about. Seems like common sense to me.

The bigger question, in my small mind is, why. Why did this planet come into being? Why is this planet so perfectly formed that it can sustain life? Our gravity is perfect. Imagine less gravity and we would be in trouble. More gravity and we would all be shaped like Christmas trees or pyramids. We would all have pointed heads and more than half our body weight in our shoes, or around our ankles.

Not only is our gravity perfect, consider a few other things. Our distance from the sun keeps us from frying and freezing. We spin on the earth's axis at close to one thousand miles per hour and we are still walking around. Did you ever ride on the Gravitron at a fair or carnival. They are nowhere near that speed.

Why? Because God wanted us to have a world filled with wonders and beauty. So we could walk out and gaze into the night sky and marvel at the innumerable stars and heavenly hosts. Why? Because God Almighty wants to have fellowship with people who understand His gifts and love Him in return. Why? Because through Christ I enjoy not only His Creation but His re-creation as well. His re-creation of my life; so when I look upon the flowers and birds I can really know that He watches over me.

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