When I first began this hub it was based on a lighter theme of following Christmastide. Then our nation was robbed of twenty 1st grade children who were loved beyond the ability to truly express it, as well as 7 other people. The heartbreak prevented me from finishing the post along the lines I began it.
Pain and questions were too stunning. Compassion for the grief of the parents and other family members, anger at the evil and at the too-much-talk-too-early clamor regarding the answers to questions everyone was asking all prevented me from being able to write this piece as planned.
We remember these who were taken and think of their families and friends with compassion. Life goes on, but it can never be the same. When there is a life experience that causes permanent pain, everything that is truly beautiful hurts. Christmastime is one of those things that hurt the most after such an event.
Somehow, we learn to live with that pain, slowly learning how to take forward steps. It seems impossible, but life does go on. The choking torment accompanied by a numbing disbelief lessens by degrees. Yet, nothing is ever like it once was.
Christmas is a season of beauty and emotion for those who have followed the One who came. It is filled with the light and wonder exemplified by the shepherds and wise men. Christmastide speaks love and grace, and today I am thankful for the record of the Lord’s tender responses to children.
Yet now, in the freshness of this sorrow and always at future Christmas times we will remember the horror of news stations notifying us about the murders. The questions that can’t be answered will be worn with gravity to our own graves as we acknowledge that some things can’t be explained except to say that evil exists.
In the meantime, those who know the families that lost children will do their best to help them, to encourage courage for the coming days, and to sometimes just simply be with them. Others may pray for the families--parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who are hurting--and then go forward with more appreciation for our own families.
The Christmas Season, The Giving Season
Gift-giving by many is intended to demonstrate to family and friends the love of God and His Indescribable Gift (2 Corinthians 2:14). Time spent in churches involves special worship services and programs that incorporate the themes of Christmas for every age group.
Family traditions may include symbols of the Christmas story and time spent reading the Matthew, Mark, and Luke's record of that time in history. The traditional music of the season attempts with good intention to relate the record of the reason we celebrate while emphasizing the importance of remembering Christ’s birth, who He really is, and the purpose for which He came.
The record, foretold in Isaiah and then amazingly preserved for all time, is intended to guide us into a safe future. The substance of the message we are given is built on believing and trustfully yielding ourselves to the One who submitted and gave Himself to become poor so we could become rich.
Modern Methods of Following Christmastide
• The Innkeeper, a Poem
In the video below you can follow the text of John Piper’s The Innkeeper as you listen to him read his poem. It rings in the heart and mind of all who have given serious thought to what Jesus’ birth meant for the those who witnessed the events surrounding it.
Before viewing this video a prayerful reading of Luke 2 is a good idea. Remember that as real as the scenario is, this is just one man’s imagery of what it could have been like to be alive in those years.
• The Star of Bethlehem
raises many questions that are not as much of a struggle for me today as for some. Others do wrestle with concepts regarding faith verses proof and facts verses myths which can present valid questions that are important to explore. This DVD
Stephen McEveety’s work in The Star of Bethlehem can help dissect astronomy verses astrology while giving much food for thought. While keeping in mind that God leaves some mystery for us work through in our pilgrim journey of faith and trust in His sovereignty, this is an interesting look at an almost incidental attempt to divide truth from error.
The Star of Bethlehem is for anyone who wants to take an earnest look at this facet of the Christmas story. It’s not a matter of making up our own minds, though, it is always a matter of taking God at His Word or not. Praying for discernment before watching is a wise move.
The Star of Bethlehem
Wikipedia describes LibriVox as an online digital library of public domain audiobooks. I have found some rare and precious jewels among their offerings. This 2-minute poem from Martin Luther was written especially for children. Our prayer is certainly that we would be able to sing a blest new year of mercies. Listen, consider, and pray.
A Christmas Carol for Children
• An App for the Christmas Story
An app came to my attention last week that made me smile. It allows us to follow a count of how many people are reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke via the YouVersion Bible App.
Besides providing The Christmas Story Tracker that includes a map as well as a running counter, the App also offers a Christmas Bible Plan that has 10 different options for enlarging the season’s meaning. Choices include a 3 Day Plan titled the Sounds of Christmas, a 28 Day Plan from the UK, and a 1 month plan designed for individuals, families, or small groups.
Saying that certain aspects of Christmas may be romanticized could be the understatement of the year, but the fact remains that the comprehensive truth of the Savior’s birth continues to resonate in hearts. The fulfilled promise from Isaiah allows us to look back and imagine what it must have been like to live in that time and place, as well as to look forward.
A Bible App for You
As of old, there are those who not only deny the Promised One along with the record that predicted His coming and which documents His birth, life, death, and resurrection, but who violently oppose Him and His followers. None of that has changed the facts, though, and I hope you are blessed by these modern ways of following Christmas.
Our need to take the Good News of the Savior’s purpose to heart is wrapped in a certain mystery that God has not fully explained to us. He has, however, given us enough information to warrant asking us to turn to Him according to His Word and take His instruction about His Son by faith.
As you hold your family and friends closer to your heart during the holidays, may this Christmas season be a time of true love and joy for you that includes a deeper and/or new understanding of the events celebrated every year throughout the world during Christmastide.
Have a Purposeful Christmas!
Check out an excellent resource for considering ways to make your Christmases meaningful and memorable by developing traditions with purpose. There are many reasons they are important for children, but not to be missed by adults who can make some of them their own!