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The Christmas Season

Posted by Andy Houltberg on

The Christmas season can be a wonderful time full of “happiness and cheer.”  Time spent with friends and family, and the joys of giving and receiving gifts are a few things that can make Christmas so great.  One of my favorite family traditions is watching Christmas movies by the fire and drinking hot chocolate.  However, it also can be a season of great anxiety, due to busyness and over consumption.  A mad dash for buying gifts coupled with all the school and community events/programs can leave little to no room for anything else.  If we are not careful we can easily allow Christmas to pass us by without truly reflecting on the nativity of Jesus.  This is where the traditional Church calendar can be helpful.  It has the potential for interrupting our holiday schedule, causing us to slow down and be intentional about worshiping fully and loving others as we have been loved.  This is why I have come to appreciate observing Advent.  

Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve.  It is a season of waiting in expectation and preparation. Christians all over the world use this time to focus on Jesus as the light of the world, Jesus as the promised Messiah revealed, and Jesus as Emmanuel - God with us.  Advent is also a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others, a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. The traditional advent candle themes are Love, Hope, Peace, Joy and the Christ candle.  Each theme reveals the gifts we can receive and share through faith in Jesus Christ. 

A good way to allow the Christmas story to impact our lives it to study Scripture; to enter the story and discover more about who God is and who we are as His children. Below is short character study on Mary the mother of Jesus.  Take some time this week to read about Mary and how she responded to God’s love. 

 

Pastor Andy

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Reflections from Murray Andrew Pura

Mary--Bearing Christ

Selected Scripture:  Luke 1-2; Matthew 1-2; John 2:1-11, 19:25-27; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 11:27-28; Acts 1:14

Surely no one experienced Immanuel, “God with us,” as did Mary, Jesus’ mother.  She who watched the Son of God expand her belly and shift his form inside her; who cradled in her arms a newly born, yet infinite, babe; who taught a boy to walk and talk while sitting before him, her Teacher; who let go her grown offspring to see him embrace and die for a much larger family- this Mary lived as mama to God -made- flesh, while bowing in her heart to the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Her role nearly unthinkable, Mary approached it with great emotion, with awe.  At first she simply stood perplexed at what would be, then sat amazed at the Child’s coming and the confirmation from hosts of heaven as well as shepherds and learned foreigners. She pondered the words of the angel and the testimony of the shepherds and as the story of Jesus unfolded before her, she treasured each piece in her heart (Luke 2:19).  Mary knew she had been the site of a holy Miracle, the habitation of divinity.   

“I am only the workshop in which God operates,” Martin Luther has Mary say in his writing on the Magnificat, Mary’s song in Luke 1.  His metaphor helps us envision Mary’s utter faith in God as her Creator and Savior.  Lifting God high, she offered herself as his servant.  

Contemporary scholar Timothy George, in an essay on Mary, reflects: “Mary was a disciple of Christ before she was his mother, for had she not believed, she would not have conceived. Mary’s faith, too, is not the achievement of merit but the gift of divine grace.”

In his grace, Immanuel has been at work in us long before we knew him.  Now God offers us the chance to respond, “I am only the workshop in which you operate, God. Let it be with me according to your word.” Can we offer ourselves as Mary did and let God from Christ in us?” 

Spend some moments pondering God’s work of grace in your life, his Immanuel presence before you knew that you knew him. Let today be filled with a constant prayer and thanks for Jesus’ coming in grace into your life”  

 

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