Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Reason for the Season

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! December is here!! One of my favourite Christmas decorations is my Nativity set. I made it when I belonged to the Ceramics Club on the radar station in Baldy Hughes (near Prince George, BC). I was the Sunday School Superintendant there and this represented my SS kids re-enacting the Christmas story. The stable actually belongs to a nativity set that Wayne brought home for me from Israel when he was with UN Peacekeeper in Egypt for 6 months. It is made of olive wood and makes it an "authentic" Hebrew stable!

Mary and Joseph are the central characters of the Christmas story so they are always "in the center" with the Baby Jesus slightly in front. After all, HE is the REASON why we even have a Christmas season! It is the celebration of HIS birth - His arrival in fulfillment of God's Promise to us. His name (Yeshua) means "Saviour" because He came to save us. If you haven't seen it yet, you need to watch "The Nativity Story" on DVD. It's a wonderful view of the story we all know so well, but from how it may have affected Mary & Joseph personally. It's very well done - not filled with action (or violence!!) and you know the ending, but just reminds us again of sacrifices made so many years ago that WE are reaping benefits from 2000 years later.

With the birth of a child comes the Birth Announcement. The Shepherds were watching their flocks by night, just as they had always done night after night. Suddenly, angels appeared and told them the Good News. They rushed to see and confirm that what they were told was true. Then they ran and told everyone who would listen. Wouldn't you if you had experienced what they did? Pretty hard to just go back to the field as if nothing special had taken place. I love it that the very first to learn about Jesus' arrival was not the officials or most important in terms of position, but the simple every day people. Maybe those who would have been overlooked once the news made headlines. They were given front row seats to the great event.
The Wisemen are an interesting group. We don't really know how many there were who traveled so far to see for themselves what they believed was about to happen - the birth of a king that was foretold by the stars! They believed and took action. We know they brought at least 3 gifts and that they were truly sent by God, even though they were not even from Israel or of the Hebrew faith. (Do you think they carried down something from the time of the Babylonian captivity when Daniel was in Persia? God has ways of preserving His Word for such time as HE wants to release it. He loves keeping it hidden from those who want to destroy and wipe out even the memory of what He has done, but He will ALWAYS keep a remnant with His true testimony.) How do we know that they were sent by God? They were warned in a dream to go home a different way and not report back to King Herod. Why would they listen to the dream and not obey the command of the king of the country they were visiting unless they knew it was God directing their path. (Commands of the king in those days was NOT taken lightly. Disobedience could be fatal).

God knows the hearts of men (& women). He knew King Herod would kill Jesus rather than worship Him. God warned Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt to escape Herod. They stayed there until he died and it was safe for them to return to Israel. God's provision for their exodus came from the gifts brought by the wisemen. Sometimes we can question the verse that tells us that God knows our needs before we even ask. Here we clearly see that God knew they would need provision and made preparations a long time in advance for their need to be met in that crisis time. They certainly would not have had time to raise support for that kind of journey in the moment of crisis that they unexpectedly found themselves. God knew and provided for them before they even knew they would need it. He DOES watch over us. He is FAITHFUL!!

Remember the phrase: Jesus is the Reason for the Season. Yes, it's cute and I heard it before, but what does it mean? The reason we even have Christmas at all is because Jesus was born. Remember - it's HIS brithday celebration. Invite HIM to your Christmas celebrations. How would you feel if you were not invited to your own birthday party?? I know some who even have a birthday cake for Him as part of their Christmas tradition. If "cookies for Santa" can be a tradition, then why not a cake for Jesus?? The kids will love it.

Today is December 1st. 24 days until Christmas Day!!!! Advent calendars are being activated. This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. The first candle of the Advent wreath will be lit. Many other Christmas traditions occur throughout the month of December, not only on Dec 25. Why not share with us what your Christmas traditions are? I know there is a Dutch tradition about filling wooden shoes and it's before Christmas Day. Tell us about them and your memories of Christmas seasons past. Let's keep our December focused on the true meaning of Christmas and not on the "shopping craze" that tries so hard to pull us in and overwhelm us emotionally and physically. Jesus IS the Reason for the Season!! Let's celebrate HIM together.

Selah Y


Anonymous said...

One tradition that has been in my family since I was a little kid, was that my dad always read the Christmas story before we opened our gifts.

Our new church family celbrates Advent each Sunday. This Sunday was HOPE and they have a family come and read scriptures of hope, light the candle and say what Hope means to them. Next week, we have been asked to light the candle of peace. Its a cool tradition... Can't wait to hear other peoples....

Jen said...

My Christmas is so full of traditions and memories... I love the memories in each decoration and heirloom that grace my home this time of year...I actually took massive amounts of pictures of many of my decorations the other night for two reasons...they are beautiful and I want to capture some that might be broken one day...and I thought I'd like to do a series of posts about some of my favorite things in christmas.

Some of my personal traditions are actually silly. My mom was such a stickler for a few of her own traditions, one being that we always had candy canes on the tree, but we were not allowed to eat them...until Christmas. AS a teenager, I began to steal ALL of the candy canes from the tree and hide them from my mom. I always put them back...eventually ;o)
Jonathan's first Christmas, he was 5 months old, sleeping while we were visiting my parents for Christmas. All of my mom's candy canes mysteriously showed up under the mattress of my sleeping angel's was a Christmas mystery!!!

Still Happy Gal said...

Just before bedtime, we always opened a gift on Christmas eve, funny was usually slippers or pj's. :)

We like to enjoy a family brunch on Christmas day.

The gift of time together...We enjoyed the chance to see family and friends at a planned afternoon drop in visit to grandparents.

To take out commercialism our family has endeavoured to give the gift of time together, or a little something homemade. ..priceless.