Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

Monday, December 25, 2023

Right at the Last

It’s Christmas again. We’re right at the last of the year.

It makes you think, doesn’t it? When you’re young, it makes you think of toys and candy and holidays. You’re all about looking forward in your youth. Later, you’re more about looking on: about watching your own children experience the same pleasures, more than feeling them yourself. And as life moves on, and more and more of your lifespan slips into the rear-view mirror, you can’t help but gradually shift to a looking back sort of mood: the end of each year becomes an occasion for mental stock-taking and thinking about what it’s all added up to.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Harking the Herald Angels

“So this is Christmas,” sang John Lennon, “and what have you done?”

That Lennon — never one to get a point.

Whatever Christmas means, you can trust me: it’s not about what you’ve done. When you get stock-taking at the end of the year, you can easily get more than a little depressed. How has the year worked out? Did you achieve all the goals you set for yourself? Did you always live up to the mark, always do your best, and always win what you hoped? How’s it all been going?

Merry, merry Christmas indeed!

Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Story of Christ in Four Parts

The scripture presents the story of Christ in at least four parts:

The first one is the birth of the Lord Jesus. God was making himself known to people in a human body. God the Son was going to come into this world and become man, though he existed eternally with the Father.

Secondly, there are the teachings of the Lord Jesus. He went through every city and village preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. The teachings of Christ are tremendously important. We need to pay attention to those.

Then there is the death of Jesus outside the walls of Jerusalem in a place called Calvary.

The fourth part is the resurrection and ascension of Jesus back to the throne of God.

So we need to think of the story of Christ in at least these four ways — in his birth, ministry, death and resurrection — to have a complete view of the person and work of the Lord Jesus.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The Line of the Forever King

“To you in David’s town this day
 Is born of David’s line
 A Savior, who is Christ the Lord
 And this shall be the sign …”

— from While Shepherds
    Watched Their Flocks

The Messiah of Israel had to be from the tribe of Judah. Not just that, he had also to be of the specific line of David, Israel’s greatest king, and the “man after [God’s] own heart”.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Reasons Not to Celebrate Christmas

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The Becoming Christians website wants you to know that if we would just dig deep enough in our Bibles, we would find reasons not to celebrate Christmas.

Tom: Hey, I’ll bite. Immanuel Can, this sounds like something you wrote about recently in your post about legalism. This Christmas naysayer has given us five reasons to put away the eggnog and put on a hair shirt. We could probably find more if we kept digging, but these should stir up a little anti-Christmas spirit, don’t you think?

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Peace Rules

December 24, 1914. Nightfall.

British, French and German troops are hunkered down at Flanders, fighting the latest “War To End All Wars”. Barbed wire. Bayonets. Machine guns. Gas. Trenches half full of fetid water, with walls composed of human bodies. Dysentery, decay, despair and death. Miserable troops on both sides of a sixty-yard space of devastated earth shiver in the clammy cold of winter, waiting for the order to scrabble over the top.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: A COVID Christmas

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more holiday-oriented than usual.

Tom: I was out for my early morning walk in a little bit of a mood, and I decided the thing to do was to spend my prayer time thanking the Lord for the good things he has brought into my life and the great things he is doing in this world.

I’m sure you can imagine exactly what happened, IC: my mood changed drastically.

Immanuel Can: Gratitude will do that, won’t it? One of the great sins of mankind is lack of it.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Is There Any Joy?

It is often said that joy is different from happiness. Happiness is a thing based on “hap” (which means chance), or one based on circumstances going well — on “good happenings”. By contrast, joy is an abiding sense of fulfillment and well-being, a disposition not based on circumstances, but one that is durable in the face of change. Something like that must be what RZIM spokesperson Max Jeganathan has in mind in this video, for example.

That distinction's good to note  — and true, so far as it goes. But we might press the issue further: What accounts for the quality of joy that enables it to endure when mere happiness is taken away from us?

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Less Than He Is

Nothing you can do to him can make him less than he is.

Remember that saying.

His Birth

Because he came into this world in a stable. They put him in an animal food trough. There was no place for him at a low-class inn. Yet he was — and is — the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Eternal King.

And God did not prevent it.

From the moment of his birth, God made this message clear: “He is who he is; nothing you can do to him can make him less than he is.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Out to the Curb

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past ...”

Garbage day in our city varies from block to block, so there is always something out for pickup. Quite often, along with the refuse of daily living, home owners will set outside for collection a few items that are still in good shape but are simply of no further use to them.

So out to the curb they go. Each abandoned item has its story.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

What We Don’t Know

There’s a fair bit we know about Christmas.

We know it’s the celebration of the day that the Savior of the world was born. We know he was later to become a great moral teacher. Most of us also know he was later to give up his life at Calvary, to pay the price of our sins and to redeem us to God. And many of us also know he was to be raised again and exalted to God’s right hand, a King to return and reign. This is all open to us, because we have the history of it. And while much remains for us to understand, still, much is revealed about all that. For the rest, we wait in faith.

But at this time of year we tend to think of Jesus Christ in a different way: not as a great moral teacher, nor as the “man of sorrows” suffering for the sins of the world, nor as the resurrected Lord and returning Judge, but rather as a baby.

And that’s a pretty baffling thing, when you think about it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

My First and Last Christmas Play

I really don’t care for Christmas plays.

Choral programs are tolerable because they at least have Christmas carols, and no matter how often those things get recycled you can’t begrudge people all their traditions. Anyway, some of those carols are quite nice.

But the plays! How many times must I witness people flouncing around in bathrobes, talking like no one in 1st century Israel ever did? How many rickety mangers occupied by plastic baby dolls must one endure? In some places they even parade up some recent mother from the congregation, towing along her screaming newborn, and the old ladies in the front row melt. Then there’s the angelic choir of five teenagers wrapped in shower curtains and crowned with coat-hanger haloes …

To employ the appropriate phrase, “Oy vey.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

To One and All, A Mary Christmas

“… the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

So sing the children in John Lennon’s wretched ditty. I really don’t know why he bothered himself about Christmas when he also wanted to “imagine there’s no heaven”. But each to his own. I’m sure he’s thought better of that since.

At Christmas time, I can’t imagine a more dismal question. Another year over, Lennon accuses, and you haven’t done anything. The poor are still starving, the world is still at war. When are you going to get off your haunches and be worth something?

Ah, there’s nothing like Christmas pudding and the sounds of self-flagellation to improve the seasonal mood.

Monday, December 25, 2017

What It’s All About

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate some surprising things. In my twenties, I finally “got” Shakespeare. How many people, like me, loathed him at first meeting, usually in high school? I guess there are some things you just have to be old enough to understand. And some people never do.

By my thirties, I suddenly found I had a feel for non-fiction reading. In my forties, I developed a taste for comparative religions and philosophy, then for apologetics. Now, in my fifties, I suddenly discover that some of the music styles of songsters more celebrated by my parents’ generation have started to speak to me with very strange poignancy. Again, I guess sometimes you just have to reach an age.

Lately, I’ve found myself strangely compelled by the work of Burt Bacharach.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Harking the Herald Angels

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Peace Rules

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Dreams, White or Otherwise

I had a dream.

No, not like MLK. That’s more of what we call a vision than a dream. Mine was nothing inspiring or quotable. Just a regular dream, the ordinary kind where your mind drifts randomly.

The Grand Entrance

In my dream I went to Hallowby Hall. I had heard that it had the most amazing Christmas decorations on the planet. Everyone said so. And I couldn’t wait to see them.

So I went there. And even as I approached I must say I was impressed. Rich, red carpets led the way up the front stairs. Gold gleamed from towering archways. Tall trees of blue and green framed either side, and from beneath each bough multi-coloured lights winked mischievously. Banners of satin crowned the entranceway, and from underneath gleamed the golden light of a dozen shining chandeliers. Such a glorious sight I had never seen.

Friday, December 25, 2015

To One and All, A Mary Christmas

The latest version of this post is available here.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My First and Last Christmas Play

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Inbox: Someone Greater than Lawrence Is Here

Bernie passes on a quote from Winston Churchill about T.E. Lawrence that seems more than a little appropriate today:

“The world looks with some awe upon a man who appears unconcernedly indifferent to home, money, comfort, rank, or even power and fame. The world feels not without a certain apprehension, that here is someone outside its jurisdiction; someone before whom its allurements may be spread in vain; someone strangely enfranchised, untamed, untrammelled by convention, moving independent of the ordinary currents of human action.”

Merry Christmas!

Immanuel Can

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Dreams, White or Otherwise

The most current version of this post is available here.