Tag Archives: grace

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 4: Do You Hear What I Hear?

The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night; He will bring us goodness and light

An important part of a Californian’s Earthquake Preparedness Kit is a flashlight. This vital tool brings light to the darkness when all the other lights go out. Even without a power outage, there are times in our lives when it seems the light has gone out.

This holiday season sometimes has a way of distracting us from the Light that shines within us. The rush of preparations, the desire for a perfect holiday, or even the memories of past Christmases can accentuate both our deepest hopes and the fears that keep us up at night.

Christmas cannot be bought at the store. It cannot be created. Christmas can only be found in the Child sleeping in the night. Only because Christ entered into our world can Christmas be a time of great joy.

baby jesusAt our deepest level, we know Christmas isn’t about getting nice gifts – it is about the Light of the World entering into it and offering us grace. The light of the Star of Bethlehem meant God crawled into our world to heal it and mend our broken hearts. He loves us even when we don’t love ourselves. His deepest desire for us is to have more of what really matters – more peace, more joy, more love.

The Child who brings goodness and light longs for you to rest in his embrace. And while we may not be certain what our next steps will be, we can always be certain of God’s hand in ours. Christ gave himself to us in order to touch the wounds of our heart with a warm and gentle hand.

He knows us intimately, yet into those places we seek to hide, his light enters. Just like the light in the sky dazzling the shepherds, that blinding brilliance of the angel who brought good tidings to all people, his light is for you. You can always count on it: Jesus is the light surrounding you, illuminating your footsteps, bring warmth to every corner of your life. His light is always waiting to shatter the darkness.

Goodness and light – the Light of the World gave us the most expensive Christmas gift of all: himself. His grand plan is to conquer the dark and flood it with the radiance of his light and love. His mission is a wild and loving pursuit of us.

The child sleeping in the night would awaken. The babe sleeping in the wooden manger eventually would lay down on a wooden cross. And with the scars he bore on our behalf there, he would restore us. He would save us.

Lessons from Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 3: Count Your Blessings

The best part of the holiday favorite, White Christmas, is when Bing Crosby, in his baritone voice, sings Count Your Blessings to Rosemary Clooney.  The advice is ageless: “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

Everyone’s story in 2016 contains victories and defeats. Even if yours was countyourblessingsmostly packed with victories, most are hard-fought and include moments of difficult work, questioning if the end would ever come and times of despair when it all seemed too difficult. The defeats come with their own set of worries.

Christmas is usually thought of as the season of comfort and joy, yet the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. Perhaps life has changed dramatically for you. A cherished relative or friend might be missing from the celebrations. Maybe you fear being alone. Or the time brings back painful memories from the past year – things you wish could be undone, but can’t.

Remember at the first Christmas, Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, thought she had been unfaithful and wanted to break off the engagement. Probably to calm things down, Mary’s family sent her to live with her cousin, Elizabeth, for a while. And just as Mary was getting ready to give birth, the couple had to travel on foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem – a distance of about 90 miles. Mary gave birth in a stinky, cold stable with only Joseph to help. Yet the Light of the World made his grand entrance as a little baby. The glory of that night could not be held in. Angels sang, shepherds and wise men came to visit because hope, true Hope for the world, was born.

Life will always be less than ideal, so it is wise to count your blessings. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, rejoice in what you have. Rather than arguing with your family, praise them for the gift they are. Rather that wishing for better circumstances, embrace God’s plan for your life. And rather than walking through suffering alone, depend on the hope Jesus gives as He walks through the valley with you.  Christ’s birth brought healing and promise to the entire world – no matter what the ache or longing, the sorrow or suffering.  That is the best blessing anyone can receive.

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 2: O Little Town of Bethlehem

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n;  So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His Heav’n.

Let’s face it, stables are not palaces. They reek, they are unkept and are filled with manure. Yet, a stable is the place where Jesus first appeared. He mangercould have been born in a royal place and laid in a golden crib. His birth could have occurred in a home, less regal, but warm and tidy and filled with love. But when Jesus came to earth he chose a stable.

When God feels far away from you, does it help you to know our God appeared in the stench of a stable? If he avoided the red carpets and the royal palaces of the day to be born in a cold, dingy barn, is there any place on earth where his love won’t appear?

God meets us not so much in the lovely, the times when life is going well, but he meets us where we are most needy. Being laid in a manger trough as baby, he knew what is was like to be needy. He depended on his parents for his life.

The Christ, who gave us mercy, was at the mercy of the innkeeper, who sadly told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them. Yet he curled up in the rough hewn wood of that manger in order to reach out to all of us.

But that isn’t the greatest miracle of Christmas. No, it is in the changed hearts of those who believe in him. The Messiah makes these detours towards the blessings of heaven in our hearts possible. God’s infinite love is always available to us if we only make a bed for him in our hearts.

The miracle of Christmas is repeated over and over again each time a person moves closer to him. He became human so we could never say, “He doesn’t understand me.” He may not approve of what we do, but he recognizes our human failings, because he wrestled with humanity, also.

Heaven bowed down to earth that day so our hearts could be warmed by the miracle of his love.