Merry Christmas 2018

I do pray that you have/had a Merry Christmas.   A Christmas that was marked with love and kindness extended to you and to those you encountered during your day.  A Christmas that, at least in some small measure, focused on the Christ Child who entered this world as a Baby so that He could save us from our sins.

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Every year we decorate the tree with various ornaments and lights, complete with gaudy garland and the toilet paper Santa that the children made when they were in nursery school.  (The Santa has lost one of his legs through the 40 years it has survived, but all in all, he sits on one of the tree branches and smiles at the adult children who made him so long ago.)  Then too there is the construction paper star and the clothes pin angel that the children made in Sunday School.  The star has had to be laminated but the angel is still free to clip onto the branch high on the tree.  (Each year it is a sibling fight to see whose ornament is the highest on the tree!  This year I believe the star won the honor.)

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But, high on the tree, there is a cross made of hay. 

It is a somber ornament – one that does not speak of the manger or the cattle, of Mary or Joseph, of the angels singing or the shepherds marveling.  It is a symbol of the crucifixion that would take place 33 years later.

But, it is a solemn reminder that Christmas is not the “end game” for the Christ Child.  Rather, His becoming the Babe in the manger was a necessary occurrence so that He could live and become the Savior and  Redeemer for His children. 

The Christmas carol “Silent Night, Holy Night“ was composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to words written by Joseph Mohr in the village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria.   

The third stanza of the carol sums up this aspect of our Lord’s birth:

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;  Radiant beams from thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace,  Jesus, Lord at thy birth, Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Paul says it another way in Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Celebrate Christmas with the realization that without the Babe in the manger, we would not have the Christ on the cross, and we would be left in our sins and trespasses, the burden of our iniquity too much for us to bear. 

Praise the Lord for His coming as a child – Praise Him too for being our Savior and Lord.

Merry Christmas to you all from all of us at The Ruminant Scribe.

BIRTHDAYS – THE CELEBRATION OF … US!

The Birthday Princess
The Birthday Princess

I was thinking about birthdays the other day. Children long for the day that is theirs, they can be the Princess or King for the day. Often the family lets the “birthday boy/girl” pick what the family will eat for dinner, what movie or television show the whole family will watch, etc.

Of course, there are also the decorations, streamers, balloons, and banners …

 

Birthday decorations
Birthday decorations
Birthday Banner
Birthday Banner

… and the birthday cake (or pie or cookies or whatever special treat the birthday child orders) …

Dinosaur Birthday Cake
Dinosaur Birthday Cake

.. or enjoys!

Yummy Birthday Cake
Yummy Birthday Cake

We celebrate birthdays when the child is growing into a youth.

Youth Birthday Boy
Youth Birthday Boy

We celebrate when the youth is racing toward adulthood.

Skateboard Birthday Cake for Youth
Skateboard Birthday Cake for Youth

And adults enjoy birthday recognition, even while recognizing that age waits for no person!

Adult Birthday Party
Adult Birthday Party

Additionally, for some of us who are animal/pet lovers, we may even celebrate the birthday of our domesticated children.   Here is Goldie, one of our greyhounds, whose birthday happened to fall on a “Meet and Greet” Saturday – so she put her Birthday Princess hat on and provided all the other hounds with treats for her “party”.

Doggie Birthday Party
Doggie Birthday Party

We celebrate birthdays in our culture because we believe that recognizing the day of our birth is important. For one day in the year, we are important just because we exist. We celebrate that we were born to do whatever destiny lies ahead of us. No matter where on the chronological chart we may fall, young or not so young, we all have a job to do for all of our days. (Even Goldie who was a therapy dog at a nursing home.)

Birthday celebrations are not limited to our culture or to this century, or even this millennia!   In the Old Testament of the Bible, in Genesis 40:20, we read that on “Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.”

In the New Testament, we read of Herod’s birthday celebration which, unfortunately, turned into a drunken mess that ended up with the beheading of John the Baptist.  Matthew 14 and Mark 6.

Interestingly, there is no indication from Scripture that Jesus ever spoke of birthdays … rather, when He speaks of birth, it is our spiritual birth that is important.

In John chapter 3, Jesus talks about entering the kingdom of God and expressly states that:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.   So not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.’”

So, when was your spiritual birthday? Do you remember when you were born again; when the Spirit touched your heart and entered your life? When Jesus Christ became your Lord and Savior?

Celebrate! Jesus said “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7.  Even the heavenly beings celebrate when one becomes a new person in Christ, when he/she is born again.

Celebrate!  You are God’s and He has you in the palm of His hand. While there may not be a physical present you can open, rest assured that you have been given the gift of spiritual blessings in Christ including eternal life. Ephesians 1:3. And, that, my beloved, is a gift that will not be returned and will never wear out!

Celebrate! May my life/your life be a celebration of my love for my Savior, Redeemer and King, the Lord Jesus Christ.