Sunday, December 25, 2016

That's What Christmas Is All About: Charlie Brown Style

"...the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Luke 2: 10-11

The first winter snow falls like grace, silently blanketing the world in pure white. I watch from inside where the Christmas lights burn bright, chasing darkness from every corner.

My attention turns to the crèche set upon the shelf. I touch each piece: the shepherds, the Wise Men, the angels, the rudimentary stable, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus - they all tell the story - the simple story that redeems life and chases darkness away.

That's what Christmas is all about.

It almost seems too simple, too easy, but Truth is simple as Linus shows us in A Charlie Brown Christmas: 

We all need reminding as much as Charlie Brown, our children, and our grandchildren, that Christmas isn't about the presents or the tree or the preparations. It isn't about our loved ones, or their memories, as much as it is about the One who loves us - loves us so much that he came to us - became God. With. Us. 

God came, never to forsake us, but to redeem all of our losses - past, present, and future - through His son, Jesus. It's through his birth, his life, his death and resurrection that God offers us a way to redeem our loss and offer us peace, good will and eternal life. Christmas points us to the birth of hope and light and life through Jesus, Emmanuel, that we might know him better and be so filled with His light that darkness runs. Jesus replaces our sorrow until his joy falls like grace upon our hearts and spills to everyone around us so that they too, might know him better.

That's what Christmas is all about. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Believing Like Mary

Labyrinth by Ignacio Bernal BY-ND 2.0
"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." Luke 1:45

Preparing for Advent, I'm drawn to Mary's faith. That she "simply" opened her life to the Lord as his handmaiden in obedience to the angel Gabrielle's message to be the mother of Jesus. But, I've no doubt her journey in those next nine months was not easy.

Amongst the ridicule and embarrassment of her illegitimate pregnancy I'm sure she questioned, more than once, if she was following the right path; wondered if she should be the chosen one of God to carry his child. What was she thinking? Life would have been so much easier if she said no and just went about her business as Joseph's betrothed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Posture of Belief

Believe by the unquiet librarian
Flickr.com_5215537173_0aff0e9598_CC BY -ND 2.0
"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!" Luke 1:45

Believing God's promises isn't always easy, especially when He promises the impossible.

I often marvel at Mary's experience with the angel Gabriel, in the Christmas story. There she was, a simple Jewish maiden, minding her own business, maybe hanging laundry, walking back from the market or drawing water from the well, when suddenly Gabriel greets her as God's "highly favored" one.

Scripture doesn't say Mary cowered from his large stature or trembled at the sound of his booming voice. So, not wanting to frighten her, I imagine Gabriel may have seemed a plain man; someone whom Mary would not be afraid. But what did frighten her was Gabriel's greeting. "Greetings! You are highly favored. The Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Making Jesus Accessible to Littles

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Luke 18:16 NIV

My one-year-old grandson’s eyes lit up as he quickly noticed all the Christmas decorations around the house.

Climbing out of his father’s arms, he couldn’t creep fast enough to the front bay window where our miniature tree stood, adorned with bright red hearts. Too colorful to resist, he grabbed a heart and his high-pitched squeal announced his accomplishment.

There’s no greater joy than to experience Christmas through a child’s eyes! Their sparkle, their curiosity, their building anticipation for Christmas Day through every detail of preparation awakens my own senses to the awe and excitement of Jesus’ birth.

My grandson crept his way from the miniature tree, past the festive Christmas mugs in the China cabinet, to his great, great grandmother’s nativity perched upon the blanket of cottony white snow in the next room. While I toyed with the idea of making this untouchable, God whispered, “Make me approachable.” So, cuddled up on my lap, my grandson and I carefully held each piece, one at a time, in our hands while I told of its role in the Christmas story.

“Here is baby Jesus, God’s son, who came to save us so we can live in heaven with him someday.”

“This is Mary, his mommy, and Joseph, his daddy.”

“Here’s the donkey that Mary rode upon all the way to Bethlehem.”

And so on, from angels to shepherds, wise men and camels. I let him hold each one because he needs to know that Jesus is always accessible and touchable. The Christmas story, the good news that Jesus brought us–that He is God’s son come down to live among us–was to make God accessible to every human being.

How do you make Jesus accessible to your little ones?

If you're joining me here from the Christian Children's Author's blog, welcome!