Heads up! This is going to be a long entry, not because I don't know how to summarize (well...), but because I feel that the information matters. :-)
Christmas is so full of wonder, meaning and tradition. But, where did all these things that we now call "Christmas" come from?
The Biblical Celebration
What an amazing picture of Christ's coming to us. As John 1 says, He came to a sin-darkened world, He came as a Sunrise from on High and offered a free gift of salvation and liberation from servitude to the servants of darkness. Actually, John 1 says a lot more than that...worth a complete read.
The True Christmas Story
The Birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-20)
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of Heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in Highest Heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to Heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Christian Meaning in Some Ancient Traditions
Some Modern Additions
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
This morning I was trying to help my dad by pulling all the bins and yard clippings bags to the curb for tomorrow's trash and recycling pick up. Everything was going just fine, though I was a bit self conscious having not had a shower and looked a bit like a brunette Einstein, i.e., the wild hair.
So what happened? The last bag of yard clippings was particularly chock full of twigs and such and so I had to drag it down the carport and onto the street. Suddenly the bag seemed to take on a life of its own, pulling me down to the ground. It was a spectacular fall in the street, curbside. The valiant fight with the yard clippings bag was one that I lost.
As I have no muscle strength due to inactivity (Thank you, Chronic Lyme Disease...NOT!), I caught myself in a tangled mess and was about an inch from a total face plant...God gave me that strength. No head injury. Glasses unharmed. But my shoulder, wrists, knees and feet took some damage. And I was so frustrated that my new mutant blue pedicure got messed up...I know, priorities, right? :-P
But as I walked back to the house, I wondered...why did no one help me? It wasn't an "I'm feeling sorry for myself" moment, rather, it was a sad curiousity. I had clearly fallen on the pavement and was struggling to get up. Vehicles passed by. What happened to the good Samaritans of the world? It was God who picked me up from that tangled mess, that I am certain. But it still saddens me that no one even slowed down long enough to say "hey are you ok?" One doesn't have to be a Christian to know that basic human heart response.
When I'd cleaned up, I re-read Jesus' parable on The Good Samaritan. The parable is found in Luke 10:30-37 and is as follows::
30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant[b] walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
It makes one think...
What do we do?
What SHOULD we do?
Pay attention to those around you. Get involved. Show unconditional love, compassion and mercy. Doing good for others is always a win-win. I know this experience was a good reminder for me. Perhaps it's a good heart-felt thought-provoker for you, as well.
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