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Joy to the World
Every Christmas we decorate our home with nativity scenes from around the world. We have a German nativity pyramid, a manager scene fashioned out of olive wood from Bethlehem, and a brightly colored Mexican folk version. Our family favorite is a whimsical entry from Africa. Instead of the more traditional sheep and camels, a hippopotamus gazes contently at the baby Jesus.
The unique cultural perspective brought to life in these nativity scenes warms my heart as I ponder each beautiful reminder that Jesus’s birth was not just for one nation or culture. It is good news for the whole earth, a…
When Peace Breaks Out
On a cold Christmas Eve in Belgium in 1914, the sound of singing floated from the trenches where soldiers were dug in. Strains of the carol “Silent Night” rang out in German and then in English. Soldiers who earlier in the day had been shooting at each other laid down their weapons and emerged from their trenches to shake hands in the “no man’s land” between them, exchanging Christmas greetings and spontaneous gifts from their rations. The ceasefire continued through the next day as the soldiers talked and laughed and even organized soccer matches together.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 that…
No Glitz, Just Glory
Looking at the handmade Christmas ornaments my son, Xavier, crafted over the years and the annual mismatched baubles Grandma had sent him, I couldn’t figure out why I was not content with our decorations. I’d always valued the creativity and memories each ornament represented. So, why did the allure of the retail stores’ holiday displays tempt me to desire a tree adorned with perfectly-matched bulbs, shimmering orbs, and satin ribbons?
As I began to turn away from our humble decor, I glimpsed a red heart-shaped ornament with a simple phrase scripted on it−Jesus, My Savior. How could I have forgotten my…
What to Name the Baby
Here’s one conversation Mary didn’t have to have with Joseph as they awaited the birth of the baby she was carrying: “Joseph, what should we name the baby?” Unlike most people awaiting a birth, they had no question about what they would call this child.
The angels who visited both Mary and Joseph told them each that the baby’s name would be Jesus (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). Joseph’s angel explained that this name indicated that the baby would “save his people from their sins.”
He would also be called “Immanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14) which means “God is with us,” because He would be…
I was in London one night for a meeting. It was pouring rain, and I was late. I rushed through the streets, turned a corner, and then stopped still. Dozens of angels hovered above Regent Street, their giant shimmering wings stretching across the traffic. Made of thousands of pulsing lights, it was the most amazing Christmas display I’d seen. I wasn’t the only one captivated. Hundreds lined the street, gazing up in awe.
Awe is central to the Christmas story. When the angel appeared to Mary explaining she would miraculously conceive (Luke 1:26–38), and to the shepherds announcing Jesus’s birth (2:8–20),…
“No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.” Those words from Phillips Brooks’ much-loved hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” point to the very heart of Christmas. Jesus came into our broken world to rescue us from our sin and give all who would put their faith in Him a new and vital relationship with God.
In a letter to a friend decades after he wrote the hymn, Brooks poignantly described the outcome of this relationship in his own life: “I cannot tell you how…
Growing into Giving
“I got you a present!” my two-year-old grandson shouted excitedly as he pressed a box into my hands. “He picked it out all by himself,” my wife smiled.
I opened the box to find a Christmas ornament of his favorite cartoon character. “Can I see it?” he asked anxiously, as soon as I unwrapped it. He played with “my” present for the rest of the evening and as I watched him, I smiled.
I smiled because I remembered gifts I had given loved ones in the past, like the album I gave my older brother one Christmas when I was in high…
A Christmas Visitor
On Christmas Eve, 1944, a man known as “Old Brinker” lay dying in a prison hospital, waiting for the makeshift Christmas service led by fellow prisoners. “When does the music start?” he asked William McDougall, who was imprisoned with him in Muntok Prison in Sumatra. “Soon,” replied McDougall. “Good,” replied the dying man. “Then I’ll be able to compare them with the angels.”
Although decades earlier Brinker had moved away from his faith in God, in his dying days he confessed his sins and found peace with Him. Instead of greeting others with a sour look, he would smile, which “was…
A String of Yeses
One Christmas, my grandmother gave me a beautiful pearl necklace. The lustrous globes glowed about my neck until one day the string broke. Balls bounced in all directions off our home’s hardwood flooring. Crawling over the planks, I recovered each tiny orb. On their own, they were small. But oh, when strung together, those pearls made such an impression!
Sometimes my yeses to God seem so insignificant—like those individual pearls. I compare myself to Mary, the mother of Jesus who was so fantastically obedient. She said yes when she embraced God’s call for her to carry the Messiah. “‘I am the…
The Giver’s Delight
Remember Tickle Me Elmo? Cabbage Patch Kids? The Furby? What do they have in common? Each rank among the twenty most popular Christmas gifts of all time. Also included on the list are familiar favorites such as Monopoly, the Nintendo Game Boy, and Wii.
We all delight in bestowing gifts at Christmas, but that is nothing compared to God’s delight in bestowing the first Christmas Gift. This gift came in the form of a baby, born in a Bethlehem manger (Luke 2:7).
Despite His humble birth, the Child’s arrival was proclaimed by an angel who declared, “I bring you good news that…
Gifts from Above
According to an old story, a man born in 270 AD named Nicholas heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.
When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the…
What Will You Do With Jesus?
As with every Christmas season, we’ve heard a lot about Jesus and the story of His birth in Bethlehem over the last few weeks. Well, today on Discover the Word, the team will challenge us to respond to the question, What are you going to do with Jesus? Don’t miss the conclusion of our series called, […]
Celebrating Christmas With A View Toward Easter
At Christmas, we celebrate the history-altering occurrence when God came to earth as human. But we can’t celebrate Christmas without also remembering the events of Easter. Today on Discover the Word, the team considers how important it is to celebrate Christmas with a view toward Easter, today on Discover the Word!
The Profound And Selfless Act Of Jesus Becoming Human
God is all-powerful and all-knowing—the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! Yet, today on Discover the Word, the team looks at Jesus’s profound act of selflessness and humility when He came to earth in the form of a peasant baby. The wonder of “The Christmas Backstory”! Join the group today for Discover the Word!
Just Another Day?
In “Christmas Every Day,” William Dean Howells tells of a little girl who gets her wish. For one long, horrible year it is indeed Christmas every day. By day three, the yuletide joy has already begun to wear thin. Before long everyone hates candy. Turkeys become scarce and sell for outrageous prices. Presents are no longer received with gratitude as they pile up everywhere. People angrily snap at each other.
Thankfully, Howell’s story is just a satirical tale. But what an incredible blessing that the subject of the Christmas celebration never wearies us despite the fact that we see Him throughout the Bible.