Christmas

Set of three red candles burning in the dark

What stockings there are in this house are hung, and most all of the Christmas decorations are out and up for this most unusual of Christmases – one in which we are anticipating the birth of a grandson.

In the kitchen alone, the candles and stuffed carolers next to the miniature street lamp sing in inaudible celebration that it’s Christmas.  Five trees of some size or shape adorn the china hutch and island.  Candles and ribbons grace the table, and the Santa hat makes a nice addition to the ceramic pig that keeps watch over all things kitchen.  A stuffed snowman (that lights up, of course) perches on a chair in the corner.  And a healthy collection of Santa-and-the-Missus salt and pepper shakers give new meaning to that cliché of all Christmas clichés – ‘Tis the season.

But what most catches my eye is a little string of letters hanging down from the upper cabinet, next to the stuffed snowman.  Those four letters spell the word, H-O-P-E.

Isn’t that the renewable resource that is Christmas – the celebration of the birth of the Hope of the Ages?  That however sorry or desperate the world looks (have you read the news lately?), there still is hope?

We live in an age where linkin’ stinkin’ thinkin’ together has become an art form, and the cynics seem to be winning.  But this Christmas can be a reminder to me and to you that we’re not done hoping. [click to continue…]

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My 2013 Christmas Prayer for You

by Andy Wood on December 25, 2013

in Life Currency, Love, Words

Three Candles

In the stillness of the night or the glory of the morning that is Christmas, my prayer for you is that beyond the traditions and trappings, through the gifts and the connections, you approach it all with a heart that is fully awake and aware of the Larger Story and the part you still must play.

I pray that you would fall in love again this Christmas with a first-love kind of desire for Jesus, whose birth we celebrate. I pray that your soul would find in Him and in those whose lives you touch the sweetest of love that gives graciously, forgives completely, and waits patiently when you or I fail miserably.

I pray that you have those God-breathed encounters in which your heart is so full you are lost in the moment.  I pray that your heart is so captured with the wonder and joy of the presence of God, even in the simplest of experiences, you could stay in that moment and hold Him tightly. [click to continue…]

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Christmas FearIt isn’t “Peace on Earth.”

It isn’t “Good will to men.”

It isn’t “Wise men still seek Him” or “Joy to the world,” true and wonderful as all those things are.

Read through the different accounts of the first Christmas, and the most common thing you will find is a variety of ordinary people like you and me coming to grips with their fears. And the message of Christmas again and again is, “You don’t have to be afraid.” [click to continue…]

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Joy Comes to the House of Affliction

by Andy Wood on December 20, 2013

in Life Currency, Love, LV Stories, Words

An imaginary story of what could have been…

Olive ChaliceEvening falls quickly in Bethany, as the sun seems to drop like a rock on the other side of the mountain, and beyond that, the Holy City of Jerusalem. And in this village – whose very name means “house of affliction,” the mood often seems to do the same.

There always seems to be something else to do in Bethany, this place of never-ending chores.  This village, one of three in Israel set aside to treat the sick, is a place of care and service. Duty and devotion.  Its residents usually find a sense of satisfaction there.

But not this time.

Not when duty and devotion means saying good-bye to one of its own.

One of Bethany’s most cherished servants, from a deeply respected family, has died giving birth to a beautiful baby girl.  And in this House of Affliction, the hits just keep on coming.

The official time of mourning now passed, duty calls, and the people of Bethany, still reeling, must man their stations.  And as 12-year-old Martha trudges through her evening chores – something she once relished doing with her Mama – no one feels the unfairness of it all more than she. [click to continue…]

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(The Twelve Names of Christmas, Part 1) 

Cross and Cradle

As you may have detected from one of the previous posts, we spent last week in the magical confines of Disney World in Florida.  “We” means all 15 of us – kids, spouses, and grandkids from age 5 to age 11 weeks. And, of course, about 12 thousand of our closest friends.

Every once in a while in this sea of strangers, about half of whom weren’t speaking English, I’d see somebody with that familiar cursive “A” on a cap or shirt, and out it would come – that instant bond forged among strangers as the result of two simple words:  Roll Tide!  And brother, it was instant.  Truth be told, I did see a few people wearing blue and orange and was tempted to say “War Eagle!” to them, but just couldn’t get words to form in my mouth.

And if you have no idea what any of that last paragraph means, never mind.

There is another rallying cry, however, I do want to tell you about.  In times of trouble in ancient Israel, including times of going into battle, they would summon courage and unity with one simple word:

Immanuel!

Immanuel was their way of expressing confidence that God was present with and fighting for the cause of his people.  And it was no accident that when Jesus arrived on the scene in Bethlehem at that first Christmas, one of his biographers made mention of it: [click to continue…]

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Christmas LoveIt starts out innocently enough.  You dutifully climb into the attic and start hauling out the boxes of decorations.  Once again the house is tricked out with stockings, twinkling lights, and the scents you save for just this time of year.

You ask the familiar questions: Do we go with same-old same-old, or try something completely new and different?  Are we staying home, or traveling, or both?  Who’s coming and going?  What’s on the calendar between here and there?  And of course, what should be get for [fill in the blank] this year for Christmas?

But here’s the tricky part – other than Black Friday, nobody’s giving you any extra time to make all that happen.  You still have a job to go to (hopefully), 21 meals a week to account for, meetings to attend, bills to pay, promises to keep.

So how do you make it all fit together?  You hurry.  You scurry.  And sometimes you worry that it never quite seems to all get done.

Truth be told, sometimes sacrifices have to be made to get it all in.  And therein lies the rub… because the one thing that Christmas is all about often gets lost in the flurry.  [click to continue…]

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Bored ChristmasThe other day my son-in-law and oldest grandson had this little exchange:

Cohen:  What does that sign say?
Curtis:  Pedestrian crossing. Are you a pedestrian?
Cohen: No. I’m a Christian.

Super funny at face value.  Typically profound as children’s funny things can be when you dig deeper.

Everybody knows what pedestrian, the noun, means, right?  “Walker.”

Or in more recent days, “somebody who texts without a seat belt.”

But as an adjective, “pedestrian” means something different.  The dictionary definition:

“lacking inspiration or excitement; dull.”

Synonyms include words like dull, boring, tedious, monotonous, uneventful, unremarkable, tiresome, wearisome, uninspired, unimaginative, unexciting, uninteresting, and uninvolving.

Are you pedestrian?

No.  I’m Christian.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if being a Christian really was the opposite of being pedestrian?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if somebody said, referring to one of us, “He’s too much of a Christian to live a pedestrian life”? [click to continue…]

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Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailDear Friends,

I am very excited to announce that for the next five days, The Twelve Pathways to Christmas, available exclusively through Amazon.com as a Kindle book download, will be available to you and 5,000 of your closest friends absolutely free.

For the next five days, Friday, November 29 through Tuesday, December 3, interested readers may download this title from Amazon absolutely free.  Click here to download.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas describes how the lives of twelve different ordinary people are forever changed when they embark on their own unique pathway to the true meaning of Christmas. Through stories that are part autobiographical, some reflections of others I have known, and some made up to make a point, you will find your own unique pathways to the meaning of Christmas in the brief encounters you have with these characters.

This book will help you discover in a fresh way why God invaded history in the person of a helpless baby in Bethlehem. Just as the first Christmas was experienced by real, excited, hurting, stressed-out, frightened, faith-filled people, so is yours. But those life circumstances – good or bad – can be pathways to breathtaking joy as you discover how greatly loved and desired you are.

The Twelve Pathways to Christmas is the first of a three-part series called the Twelve Joys of Christmas. And what greater joy can there be than to discover that your life is all part of a larger plan to give you a future and a hope?

Click here to download.

Why are you giving this book away for three days?

Two reasons.  First, I want to share it as a gift to you for you to enjoy and be blessed by.  Honestly, this isn’t the kind of book you’d take to read at your next Christmas party.  But it’s a good resource for those times when you want to be still.  To reflect.  To hear the gentle whisper of God’s voice again. [click to continue…]

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fireplaceOn this cold December night, when life, relationships and future hope seem more complicated than ever, I pray that that the Father of lights would give you the joy of His presence and the gift of simple happiness throughout the coming year, with the light of every new sunrise.

I pray that he would remind you often of how deeply you are loved, unforgettably engraved in the palm of His hand, steadfastly held by His grace day and night.

I pray that in an age where nothing seems to last, that the One who promised us a home with Him forever  would keep the language and love of forever dancing in your heart and mine as long as you and I have breath. [click to continue…]

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Many years ago the cartoon character Cathy expressed the anxiety many people feel this time of year.  She says to her boss:  “My left brain is making lists of people I haven’t sent cards to yet.  My right brain is at the craft store, thinking up creative gifts I could make before Christmas.  My nerves are at the mall, worrying whether I should have gotten the other necktie for my Dad.  My stomach is still at last night’s party begging for more Christmas cookies.  My heart is stuck in traffic somewhere between my mother’s house, my boyfriend’s house, and the adorable man I saw at the post office.”

Her boss asks, “What is it you want, Cathy?”  Cathy replies:  “May what’s left of me sneak home early and take a nap?”

For many people, Christmas has become something other than a celebration.  It’s more like a mission. The holiday, instead of being a holy-day, has become a holocaust.  The celebration has become a sale, “Silent Night” has become replaced with “Walmart Fight.”

And have you noticed how guilty you always seem to feel at Christmas?

You spent too much money, or didn’t spend enough.

You didn’t get everything your kids asked for, or the present wasn’t the right size.

You didn’t give enough to the church or the Salvation Army.

You “put Christ back into Christmas” and were “too spiritual,” or you had too much Santa Claus and reindeer.

Do you ever wish you could just somehow go back and start over?  Football coaches have a good term for this:  they call it going back to the fundamentals.  Let’s give that a try this year.  Let’s make Christmas a celebration again… 100% guilt-free! Click to see a great idea for connecting with people

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