New Christmas Music — or, A Prayer for This Morning

Just discovered Chris Martin’s blog and the page where his wife, Jennifer, shares some of her music.

If you’re looking for Christmas music in a new voice, check this out.

“Breath of Heaven” was my morning prayer.
Every one of us was chosen to be a part of the story of Jesus coming to the world.
May we, like Mary, offer all that we are for the mercy of His plan.

http://chrismartinwrites.com/jennifers-music/

Thanks, Chris and Jennifer for sharing both your thoughts and your music. I’m looking forward to more of both.

Read The Tag Again this Christmas

“Merry Christmas.”

The gift is laid into your hands. A small, flat box. It doesn’t look like much. Doesn’t weigh much. Isn’t even wrapped as you expected.

The tag on the top says,

Because I love you, and because I knew you needed this.”

Inside is a check written out to you, with numbers bigger than anything you’ve ever seen before. All you’ll need to do is deposit that slip of paper, and you can pay off all the debt your living has piled up plus you will have all you need for the future. You’ll never have to worry about resources again. Just deposit it. It’s yours.

Because the giver loved you and knew you needed it.

Now I know that this little story is not quite a perfect story of Christmas. There are many other things that most of us need and long for, things that cannot be bought with any amount of money. But this does illustrate exactly what happened on the night we now commemorate as Christmas: someone you did not even know at the time gave you a gift, because he loved you and because you need it.

That gift is
release from your prison,
the gift of sight,
a wonderful counselor,
a mighty God,
a father who supplies all you will need,
and a sovereign who holds all the keys to peace.

The gift makes it possible for you to climb out of the hole of debt you thought you’d never be able to escape.

The gift opens the door for you to have and enjoy everything that was previously out of your reach.

The gift makes possible all that you long for but that has always seemed impossible.

You could work all your life, but you know you’ll never earn this.

You also know you’ve never done anything to deserve this.

But this gift is placed in your hands now.

I hope you open it, savor it, delight in it,

and let it change your life. 

Because you are loved. And because He knows you need it.

.

Celebrating Christmas

Usually on New Year’s Day I am looking forward. This morning, I’m still looking backward, at a Christmas season that has left me so thankful for the Gift.

Some might say Christmas was pretty much ruined this year. The flu bug rampaged through the ranks of my family and friends. Gatherings were canceled or postponed, church services skipped, Christmas hugs and kisses scarce or at best, cautious. Cars developed mechanical problems at the worst possible times; big repair bills dampened spirits; snow, while delightful, changed travel plans. A mother’s death changed lives. Friends were in a serious accident. I spent Christmas Eve in the waiting room, sitting through my Dad’s emergency surgery and later in the week had my own episodes of illness. And over everything, every day, I felt the terrible shadow of Newtown.

Yet, after having celebrated many previous Christmases, this year I finally began to see the real story. Years of trees and tinsel, food and gift-giving and parties and yes, even beautiful Christmas Eve services, have not helped me understand Christmas as well as these weeks of living in a world that holds so much disappointment, despair, hopelessness, and death.

Most of our traditional Christmas celebrations were stripped away this year and I caught a glimpse of what happened that night in Bethlehem. Christ stepped into our darkness, was willing to live right in it with us, so that He could battle and defeat its power and make a way for us back to God. The real story is light coming to darkness and hope coming to hopelessness.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come — and continues to come to all our darkness.

How will I celebrate next year? I am still pondering that; I’m not sure what I will do next December to honor the Light and the hope we’ve been given. But it seems to me that love that bestows such a gift should be celebrated all year; and that the children of God, who are now a part of His mission on this earth, should be bringing light and hope into dark corners, every day in every way they can.

One thing I know: celebrating Christmas will be different for me, for the rest of my allotted seasons.

Every Knee Will Bow

We sat at a table surrounded by stacks of boxes, shelves of books, and cartons of gifts. The Christian book store had graciously created a space in its warehouse for this meeting of a writer’s group.

I admit to being bored, and my eyes roamed around the big room, taking inventory. On a high shelf, one box advertised its contents with a large picture attached to one side:  Santa Claus.

There was no backdrop, no setting, nothing in the picture except a red-clad figure, bent in worship, hands clasped in prayer. The artist had captured a spirit of reverence, a soul kneeling before the King of kings.  The epitome of the world’s Christmas bowed down to the God of all creation.

No matter what the world thinks of God, He alone rules! No matter that many have turned Christmas into a mere “holiday”, someday every knee will bow to the Baby born in a stable. 

“… For there is no other God but me,
a righteous God and Savior.
   There is none but me.
Let all the world look to me for salvation!
    For I am God; there is no other.

Every knee will bend to me,
    and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”
  
             (Isaiah 45:21-23 NLT)

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.
             
(Philippians 2:10-11 NLT)

These days, when Santas dance in windows and perch on housetops and wave from snow-covered yards, the Spirit reminds me of that kneeling Santa and the Scripture’s promise:  Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess — There is only one God, and He is King! 

 Turn on your audio, and worship the Lord of all creation:

It’s Always Christmas

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in the dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight. *

 

In the dark streets of Bethlehem, a child comes into the world and brings the everlasting light. Immanuel. “God is with us.”

Albert Edward Day says, “God is present in reality no matter what unreality our practices and our ponderings imply.” **

And my youngest grandson, who just turned three, told me yesterday that “It’s always Christmas.”

God is here. Although every one of us has turned away from Him, has forgotten Him, and has looked to other gods, yet He has come. Come to save us and destroy our enemies. Come to heal us. Come to meet “the hopes and fears of all the years.”

He is here. The everlasting light shines in the dark streets of Bethlehem and of our world today. You and I may forget that He is here, but He does not abandon us. He waits for us to seek Him so that He can heal us and meet all our hopes and fears.

So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
     so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help.

Remember, and come to Him.

Immanuel. It’s always Christmas

*

Scripture: Isaiah 30:18 (NLT)
* “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, Phillips Brooks
** The Captivating Presence, by Albert Edward Day