215.   Deck the halls

By this time of the year, we are all thinking about Christmas and maybe even looking forward to the lovely peaceful time after Christmas when the year breathes for a while and then gear up to start with a bang.  Hopefully some work and some responsibilities can be parked and paused for a while to reflect on our shining Christian feast of light and love.  Everywhere people long for “normality” whatever that might mean for each individual.  Panicked cancellation of travel plans and new restrictions are keeping families apart who were so looking forward to seeing each other again.

All the disruption in our world could serve to focus our thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas.  Is this the time that you could experience something so new and so unexpected as that first Christmas in Bethlehem?  The world continued in its roller-coaster mode, just like today.  Only a few saw the star and followed the light; only a few heard the singing and rushed to the baby.  The love, light, peace and joy of which Christmas speaks  are not limited to circumstances and places.  It is written in the heavens for all to see and receive, all over the globe and in the darkest corner of misery and despair.

It is you who determine the content of your Christmas.  Your celebration, whether alone or with loved ones, is not dependant on politics, public policy, financial means or social status.  The fundamental message of Christmas is in actual fact for those who are alone, who could not fly, who has nobody to share a meal with, who has no money and no expectation of a gift.

Jesus is enough to fill all the empty spaces.  Is this your Christmas to hear the angels sing, to see the star and to smile at the newborn in the arms of  Mary?  It is a time of year with an almost cruel manner built in to expose brokenness and inner pain.  It is also the time to know God’s abundance, to find the real gold that cannot be weighed or calculated.  It is your opportunity to find peace that surpasses all understanding.

It is your choice – you can celebrate intentionally or be swept away by a flood of self-pity and sadness.

Stand up and make a decision.  Put your hands in the air – above your head so that your worship is elevated above the seat of pride and rebellion where thoughts generate to convince you of defeat – and praise God for his blessings, mercy and grace in your life.  If you have a hard time thinking of anything, ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your heart and mind into gratitude.  God is good.  Go ahead and “see” in the Spirit.

Read a Psalm, sing a song and change the atmosphere from gloom to glory with the sound of truth and salvation – everything that Christmas is all about.  Thank God that you know him and that He is intentional about you.  He was born a baby for you.  Peep into the manger and smile at that beautiful newborn little human.

Get the tree into the house and read of the Tree of Life in Genesis and in Revelation.  Read of the shoot from the stump of Jesse and rejoice in the description of the Messiah that births new life into you (Isaiah 11).  Hang the golden balls and crown Jesus as the King of your life and home.  Put an angel somewhere  and thank God that He commands his angels over you.  Put a red tablecloth over the table and thank God for the blood shed for your sins and the sins of the world.

Do you have a nativity scene to exhibit?  Look at Mary and Joseph and  think about their circumstances that first Christmas.  Their presence in every church and on so many Christmas cards two thousand years after they had lived, speaks of their obedience and submission to God’s plan.  Pray that his Plan would determine your life in the same “intrusive” way that their lives were lived for God’s salvation-design alone.  They did not plan for a life lived in the greatest story ever told.  You can choose and become part of it.

Light four candles – five if you want.   One for hope, one for love, one for joy and one for peace.  Light the fifth candle for the next Feast – Passover and the hope we have in the Resurrection of Jesus.  Celebrate his Life and victory over death.  Search the Scriptures for a verse over each candle and ‘hear” what God is saying to you.   Meditate on what you read.  Let the Word wash over you (Ephesians 5:26) and let the floods of living waters flow from you (John 7:38).

Look out for what you can do for someone else.  Make something creative  and give it away.  Search for beauty and admire the creative talents all around you.  Let something grow, cook a nice dish from leftovers, read a recipe for inspiration and adjust it with what you have in the pantry.  Draw something, paint something, sew a button onto a pale piece of clothing for decoration  – ask the Lord to stir your creativity and artistic talents.  We have the breath of God in our inner being. Create your sanctuary.

And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded.” (Exodus 36:1)

You are the splendour of the Feast.  Let it show on your face in the impatient line-up of the supermarket.  Let your peace and joy calm the road rage in the traffic. Stand in the gap and pray for a lost world who celebrates a hollow, meaningless Christmas with drunkenness and other empty idols.

Love wins – always!  Worship is love expressed. Praise the Lord!  Merry Christmas Pebblepals!

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