Missing Christmas

They all were looking for a king

To slay their foes and lift them high:

Thou Cam’st a little baby thing

That made a woman cry…

And so begins a poem by George MacDonald, “That Holy Thing”.

This year we are missing the Christmas we were expecting…the Christmas we remember…

Over 2,000 years ago a baby was born. His purpose…to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) The focus wasn’t on the corrupt government or the invading armies. He didn’t come to change society, He came to transform hearts. Repentance, not easy living, was His goal.

33 years after he was born He died an awful death at the hands of those He had come to save.

3 days later He rose from the grave in spite of Satan’s best efforts to do away with God’s redemption plan.

40 days later, He ascended into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11)

Now might be a good time to remember some of the promises He made before He left.

John 14:3 …If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again that where I am, there you may be also.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”

John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

We need to remember that…

He is with us,

He died for us,

He has overcome the world,

He is preparing a place for us,

He is coming back to take us home.

There is nothing I would like more than to sit down with each of you and have a cup of tea. I can picture each of you hurrying around getting ready for Christmas with many or few people this year. Most of all I pray that each of you finds the peace that only Jesus can give.

For further study:

..in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. I Corinthians 15:52

Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings… As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake. Psalm 17: 8 & 15

Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence – Isaiah 64:1

And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Joel 2:13

A Parkside Christmas

Christmas is just over a week away. 

I’ve finished wrapping my presents. 

Gathered my ingredients for the baking I need to do. 

Almost finished my Christmas cards.

Spent time looking at the Christmas lights through our car window with my Granddaughter. Arianna took several shots, but since it was dark and we were moving I won’t include them here. This picture is from the log house we lived in before we moved to Waldo.

I hope you are able to get to church in the next few days. I realize that isn’t possible for many of us. Early on in March when most of us were going to church virtually we listened to Alistair Begg from Cleveland. He was one of our favorite “virtual pastors.”

Below is a link to a virtual Christmas concert on Friday, December 18th, 8:00 p.m. EST. I hope you can join me. 

It will also be available for viewing after Friday.

Watch “A Parkside Christmas” with Alistair Begg (truthforlife.org)

Praying in this time of uncertainty that you can find comfort in the one who quietly came to Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. 

 

 

 

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks…

My favorite Christmas carol as a child was “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”. In my mind it told the most spectacular part of the Christmas story, angels appearing in the middle of the night to Shepherds on a hillside.

I was deathly afraid of the dark so the 2nd verse spoke volumes to me.

“Fear not,” said he; for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind.”

I could well image how terrified they must have been to be out in the dark at night and then to be addressed suddenly by an angel.

But fear made way to…“Glad tidings of great joy I bring to you and all mankind”. The angel spoke of a Savior and of peace between God and men.

It was written by Naham Tate, an Irishman, who moved to London in his twenties. He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1692 until his death in 1715. He wrote these lyrics in 1700 (approximately).

The tune is by George F. Handel. (1685 – 1759) Probably taken from an aria he wrote in 1728.

Here is a recording of the most familiar version.

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Hymn Charts with Lyrics, Contemporary) – YouTube

Here is another version that is probably almost as old. The tune is “Winchester Old”.

WINCHESTER OLD WHILE SHEPHERD WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS – YouTube

Here is a new version from 2013 by Craig Courtney that is also lovely.

Atlanta Master Chorale | While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks (Courtney) – YouTube

I will finish the list out with one more – “The Yorkshire Version”

While Shepherds Watched – The Yorkshire Version by Stamford Bridge Singers – YouTube

There are many other versions. Sorry if I didn’t mention your favorite.

What was your favorite Christmas carol as a child? Let me know what it was and why.

The trouble with Santa

“You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Clause is coming to town. He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out whose naughty and nice…He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

Santa, the all-seeing god-like character we see so much of this time of year. Unfortunately some people get their view of God from Santa. He is a pale comparison. Here are some important differences.

We are told Santa keeps track and will only bring presents to the good. Contrast that to “…You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” God sending the gift of His son didn’t depend on us being good, but was sent because we were sinners. Good people don’t need a Savior. Sinners need a Savior.

Santa’s list keeping implies that he will not deliver gifts intended for us if we are naughty. Romans 11:29 tells us “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” God’s gift of salvation isn’t taken back if we are unworthy. Truth be told we are all unworthy. Again, that was the point of God sending His son.

Santa shows love to those who show themselves to be good. God loves those who understand that it depends not on their own goodness, but on God’s grace. II Timothy 1:9 says “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,”

Santa visits one day a year…while we are sleeping, just long enough to leave a pile of presents.

Jesus came to be with us. His name Immanuel means “God with us.” The most important gift we can get is His presence, not his presents. Things get old and wear out. They lose their appeal, but the very real presence of God Himself is a gift beyond compare.

So what is our response? The wisemen had the right idea. They journeyed to a foreign country to find this king and when they found him…”They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Upon meeting the child they “fell down and worshiped him.” They didn’t come expecting to receive, but to offer what they had. So we too can offer what we have. A heart yearning to know this God who stoops down to be with us.

Praying you each find the peace only God can give in this troubled world.

Sorry for My Absence

I have had a busy few months. My husband retired, we moved out of our log house surrounded by trees to an open lot near a pond. I am struggling to find my rhythm or my brain for that matter. I think they were both lost somewhere in the move to a new town and house. Either that, or they are yet to be unpacked.

I have struggled to write without any success and so I apologize for my absence. As a peace offering I will be posting a musical advent calendar again this year.

Today I am offering two songs that remind us of our wonderful God who loves us more than we can imagine. Christmas, after all, is not about us, but about Him and the amazing gift he gave over 2000 years ago. My prayer is that you take some time each day this month to think about what Christmas is really all about. A God who stooped down to become one of us so we could live with him forever.

The Father’s Song – Matt Redman

 

Salvation’s Song – Stuart Townend

 

Starting tomorrow there will be a Christmas song posted every day. I hope you enjoy them. Hopefully I will be back to writing in January.