Christmas Time Is Here
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? As the youngest of five kids (Tom, Mark, Julie, Jeff, and yours truly), I remember having huge Christmas parties at our home in the Detroit neighborhood of Sherwood Forest. The hustle and bustle of family and guests (and of course, the cookies) just thrilled me to my kid core. Of course, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special (made in 1965) was amazing. I loved the story line and the music.
I remember going to midnight mass on Christmas Eve as a little girl. I NEVER stayed up that late, so that was a big deal. Lying on the church pew, I stretched my short legs up to the ceiling of Gesu Church near Six Mile Rd. in Detroit, imagining what it would be like to actually be able to walk on that multi-faceted and multi-dimensional ceiling. The candles. The carols. The communion. All were part of my childhood Christmas experience.
Our lively home had a fireplace in the southeast side living room. On some Christmas Eves, we actually slept on the floor in front of the warm hearth. The carpet was thin, gray, wool-like and well-worn, probably from our games of tag over the years. By morning time, the fire was out and the chimney flue was open. Do you know what this meant? (Remember, hot air rises, and I was on the hard floor.) I felt a brisk breeze blowing right through my jammies, but the anticipation of Christmas morning and presents was thick as molasses. I couldn’t wait to open my gifts and celebrate Christmas with my family. That was the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. (Yes, I really AM THAT old.:)
Fast-forward several years to when I actually read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20 for myself. It was an experience of liberation for me to see the details of the birth of Christ (Bethlehem, Mary, Joseph, the inn, the manger, shepherds, angels, wise men, and more) in the Word of God. I had heard parts of the story but never read it for myself. Sounds rather basic, but the true Christmas story is actually profound.
That Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He dwelt in ME. Jesus became my personal Savior on July 12, 1974. That day I invited Christ to be the ruler of my heart when I was at a Christian summer camp called Camp Farthest Out at Alma College. I invited Jesus Christ to also become my Lord. I wanted Him to change me from the inside out. Yet, the Kingship and Lordship of Christ in our lives continues to be a daily choice, doesn’t it?
Lord, fill me with more of you this Christmas season, as the lights are blinking -- and people and things are calling for my attention. When I get “squeezed” through daily circumstances, responsibilities, or my own unrealistic expectations, may more of Christ come out.
I can’t think of a better way to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus then to experience our Walk through Bethlehem at Clare Assembly, December 14-16 from 6 – 8 PM. It’s a walk for all ages and for the ages. I hope that you will set aside a little time to experience this for yourself. Bring family and friends. If you have to drive a few hours to the Clare area in Mid-Michigan, it’s worth it! Did you know that there are at least 110 volunteers from our Clare community who are helping to make the Walk through Bethlehem happen? Watch the Christmas story come alive before your very eyes.
Let’s take a moment to ponder on all that Christ has done for us: His birth. His life. His death. His resurrection. He is the Reason for the season, and our Anchor in the midst of any storm.
Join me in creating even more meaningful memories this Christmas. Try reading Luke 2:1-20 as a family. So many truths abide in that true story. (Like, “fear not,” but that’s for another day…)
“For unto us a Child is born” (Luke 2). In fact, His name is called, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6,7).
Wow. I really need more of Christ these days -- in my thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions. How about you? Isaac Watts said it well in his “Joy to the World” composition: “Let every heart prepare Him room.”
Did you know that our Emmanuel (meaning God with us), will be with us every moment of every day? You are NEVER alone. That’s a promise.
Join me this Christmas season as we pause to prioritize our King, our Messiah, our Savior, and our Lord. Let’s give Him the praise and the time that He is so worthy of. Indeed, “Glory to God in the highest.”
Thank God for the wonderful memories, and thank God for being our Healer of past hurts. “His mercies are new EVERY morning.” (Lamentations 3)
Remember to give your loved one an extra squeeze this Christmas time.
Stay focused on what matters, and stay patient. (Me, too!) When we get squeezed, may the love of God come out.
Read that Christmas story in Luke 2 for yourself / as a family. Watch His Word come alive in you.
Count your many blessings, friends. Christmas time is here.
I hope to see you at THE WALK!
Yours and His, Lisa Harper