Christmas: Sorrow & Hope

christmas-candles-wallpaper-290x290Tis’ the season to be jolly, right? While the entire world seems to glitter in tinsel, some people will be sitting in caves of sorrow during the holidays. It’s easy to forget that grief does not take a vacation at Christmas.

Chances are someone you know has lost a loved one in the past year. This Christmas will be the first one since their death. Everything will be different. All the celebrations will actually prompt mourning. And the family gathering won’t quite be complete. It’s a challenge to muster up seasonal vibes when all you can think about or feel is the loss and grief from the past year or more.

The challenge? Make sure that we mourn with those who mourn – even during the holidays.

Stop for a moment and think of those who might feel as if they have less reason to rejoice than others. And when the Lord has brought them to mind, think about how you might remember, include, bless, or serve them in some way.

Remember, what began in a manger culminated in a cross where Jesus “destroy[ed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). One day God will put an end to all pain, suffering, loss and tears.

Our great hope is that Christ will come again, not as a helpless baby in a manger, but as a magnificent king on a throne! A king who will be close enough, and gentle enough, to wipe every tear from our eyes. He will personally put an end to everything that has brought his people pain. He will “raise the sons of earth” by transforming “our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil. 3:21) to live with him forever on a gloriously renewed earth.

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Praise & Thanksgiving

sing-praise-thanksgiving-550x320“O My God,

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves, thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee

  • ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
  • ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
  • ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

  • for the body thou hast given me,
  • for preserving its strength and vigor,
  • for providing senses to enjoy delights,
  • for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
  • for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
  • for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
  • for a full table and overflowing cup,
  • for appetite, taste, sweetness,
  • for social joys of relatives and friends,
  • for ability to serve others,
  • for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
  • for a mind to care for my fellow-men,
  • for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
  • for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
  • for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.”

~ The Valley of Vision

Elevate Your Christmas Focus

Christmas%20cross%20Wallpaper__yvt2Let the chaos begin. Do you remember the good-ole-days when we used to spend Thanksgiving Day together with our family? Everyone would gather at grandma’s house, we would share in a turkey feast, watch a little football, take a nap, and then completely lose our minds. The sun would go down and normal people would be transformed into shopping monsters to be unleashed at midnight.

For the record, I only did that once. I will never do that again. The so called “black Friday” shopping part that is. As for turkey and football – who am I to mess with tradition?!

The times have changed though. The shopping monsters couldn’t wait until midnight this year. They were loosed, restrained, re-loosed, and re-restrained on Thursday and then re-re-loosed at midnight for Friday’s blackness. Honestly, just thinking about it is making me tired and dizzy.

I want to make a radical suggestion. Take a few moments and stop the Christmas chaos in your life. Breathe. Now elevate your focus and yield your attention in worship and adoration as you consider this:

“He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

“Though he (Jesus Christ) was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:31-34).

Merry Christmas!