Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Holiday Happenings

The hustle and bustle of the holidays has ended. We are trying to settle back into our normal routine. The seven-thirty family breakfast this morning was at seven-forty. Not too bad. Monday we had breakfast at ten-thirty.

Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve was wonderful. We drove up to LaPorte for a beautiful community worship service at my church. Since it was half way to Cheyenne, my grandparents came down for the service and dinner. We set up a festive meal in the youth Sunday school room for our family, equipped with candles provided by Amy. (She thought our Christmas Eve table looked a little bare...) We arrived home that evening at ten-thirty.

Christmas Day
We awoke Christmas morning around seven-thirty. My eighteen year old brother, Ben, was the biggest kid of us all, waking the household up with, "It's Christmas, get up! It's Christmas, sleepy heads!"

We opened gifts, ate our traditional cinnamon roll breakfast and relaxed. We had an early dinner feast prepared by Mom. We played with our new games, tried on new clothes and watched dad's new comedy DVD. We did a Christmas worship celebration.

It was a wonderful day. I love my family so much. The reality of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection was heavy on my heart this year. Having a day set aside to celebrate and focus on God becoming man is a wonderful thing to me. I cannot explain it!

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
This New Year's Eve and Day was different for us. We usually travel to Cheyenne and spend New Year's with my grandparents. This year they went to Nebraska to visit my grandma's brother who has a short time to live.

We were going to have a family over. They were not able to come. We spent New Year's Eve and New Year's Day as a family. It was a little sad, since we are used to grand festivities, but it was also relaxing as well. My mom told me that she cannot remember the last time it was just our family home for New Year's; we figured that it was probably close to 15 years!

We have one more holiday celebration. The celebration of the coming of the wisemen. Our family has a Christmas tree advent banner devotion. December 1-25 we do a devotional and attach a felt ornament to the felt tree. On Epiphany we remove the ornaments one by one, discussing what each was for and reading the key verse. We sing! We dance! We pray!

Then the holiday happenings are over... for this year. I love celebrating. I love making things special. I love tradition and sentiments. I love celebrating with a purpose.

I think God does too. Have you read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy lately? Our God loves to celebrate! He gives everything a deep significance, from sacrifices to feasts. Goodness, God set up the Jewish calendar to include week long parties!

What is the joy and pleasure in Christmas without Christ? Why celebrate a new year without the One Who is Hope for all that the future holds? It is no wonder that the holidays envoke a sense of lonliness in those who do not know Christ.

Yet, even Christians lose sight of the meaning of Christmas and the joy of a new year! We get pulled into gifts, parties, wrapping, money, getting, giving, music, snow, trees, decorations, snowmen and eggnog that we forget the true meaning.

Oh, we read the story. We talk about how Jesus came to earth as a baby. We know the story so well that we get familiar with the routine. Angel came to Mary. Mary is a virgin. Mary's going to have a baby. Joseph has a dream. Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem. No room in the inn. Mary has Jesus in a cave. Shephards come. Wisemen come... Can you hear the records of Christmas playing in your head?

Have we lost sight of the joy? Have we lost sight of redemption? Have we made Christ common? Do we realized the paradox of God becoming man? MAJESTY Itself becoming humanity. Creator of Heaven and Earth lying in a feeding trough for animals. All-knowing, self-sustaining, unexplainable, infinite, holy, righteous, compassionate, gracious GOD... became a man.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son
and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger,
because there was no place for them in the inn."
Luke 2:1-7
The Majesty and Humility of Jesus Christ
"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a
thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11
That is the meaning of Christmas. Oh, let us not forget! Let us treasure Christ not Christmas. Let us celebrate with all we have- with joy, with purpose and with passion! Christ did not come to give Christmas as an end in itself. He came to give us Hope. He came to glorify God!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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