• Peace on Earth to those with whom God is pleased from Luke 2:14
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    Peace on Earth to Those with Whom God Is Pleased

    “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” (Luke 2:14, NLT) These are the words the host of angels declared to a band of shepherds right after an angel of the Lord announced the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem—the Savior, Christ the Lord. They began with the words, “Glory to God in the highest.” Hundreds of years before this night, God promised to send the Christ, the anointed one who would be the deliverer they needed. The people lived with a sense of hope and expectation. Now, that promise is fulfilled! All heaven is giving God the glory. And, on earth—peace.…

  • Impact

    Receive Christ’s gift of life!

    Historians tell the story about the funeral of Charlemagne. He was the greatest Christian ruler of the early Middle Ages. After Charlemagne’s death, a tremendous funeral procession left his castle for the cathedral at Aix. When the royal casket arrived, with a lot of pomp and circumstance, it was met by the local bishop, who barred the cathedral door. “Who comes?” the Bishop asked, as was the custom. “Charlemagne, Lord and King of the Holy Roman Empire,” proclaimed the Emperor’s proud herald. “Him I know not,” the Bishop replied. “Who comes?” The herald, a bit shaken, replied, “Charles the Great, a good and honest man of the earth.” “Him I…

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    Jesus: I AM

    John 4:26:  Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am.” It’s the middle of the day in the Near East. Jesus has walked all morning with his disciples, and they’ve worked up an appetite. So, while the twelve have gone off to buy bread, Jesus rests at Jacob’s well. And there he meets a woman who has lost five husbands and is now probably a concubine so she can eat. (It’s unlikely she initiated divorce five times, as legal action depended on men—more likely, she’s an older woman, widowed and/or abandoned.) This woman has experienced much devastation, yet she waits in hope for the Anointed One. She tells Jesus, “I…

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    Your Christmas Wish

    Each year growing up, I made a list of things I wanted for Christmas. I’m pretty sure “a horse” topped the list every single year (and no, I never got one). I definitely knew that in order to get what I truly wanted, I had to be nice, not naughty. Looking back, that’s probably why I never got the horse. Anyhoo… As adults, we don’t worry about making Santa’s NICE LIST so we can get what we desire most. Instead we embrace Christmas as a season of giving, good cheer, and hope for the new year. And as Christians, we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.  Reconciliation to…

  • Immanuel God With Us
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    Go, Total Stranger, Go!!

    Sometimes encouragement comes from entirely unexpected sources. A few years ago, four friends and I embarked on a mini-adventure, each running a 5ish-mile leg of the White Rock Marathon relay. Mind you, my visions of the day and the reality of the morning were quite different. While training, I enjoyed either sunny skies or the comforts of a temperature-controlled workout room. I didn’t anticipate shivering outside for two hours in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Standing in the pouring rain waiting for that baton, out of my blue lips came these words (said with emphasis): “This is STUPID. Why did I sign up for this??” I had distant hope that I would…

  • Christmas Bells
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    An Advent Reflection: Why It Hurts at Christmas

    “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”  So begins Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, written in the time of the revolutions. But he could have just as easily been talking about Advent. Christ has already come in the flesh; but he has not yet made all things new. So while it is the best of times—Christ is Lord—it is the worst of times, because He has not yet returned. Many of our great Christmas carols acknowledge this already-but-not-yet state. Isaac Watts wrote, “He comes to make his blessings known far as the curse is found.” Yes, God blesses. But the curse is still found.…

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    The Gift of “God With Us”

    A wailing scream pierces the air. The new mother cries tears of sheer exhaustion and joy. The father stands speechless, astounded, holding a wriggly bundle in his arms. Mom and dad lock eyes and they silently ask each other, “What should we name him?” (Para español, lea abajo.) A name means something. Depending on the culture, a name implies family respect, honor, and tradition. In the Latino culture, for example, parents typically name their firstborn child after the father or mother. If the father is Luis, the baby boy is Luis. If the mother is Elizabeth, the baby girl is Elizabeth. In doing so, the parents preserve their family legacy.…

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    Pondering Treasures

    Every year around this time, I head to the garage and pull out the red Rubbermaid container packed with our Christmas ornament collection. I crack open the box with the anticipation of a child on Christmas morning. I breathe in the scent of the Maine balsam fir pillow tucked at the bottom and smile. I know precious memories await me, as I weed through the packing peanuts safely protecting my nostalgia.  I love the mystery that surrounds what I will pull out first. This year, my hands grabbed the handprint Christmas wreath I made with my now four-year-old son on his very first Christmas, and I remembered all the first…

  • Heartprints

    Searching for Advent

    On our way to church I asked my children, “What is Advent?” One child said “I don’t know,” and the other, “When we get ready for Christmas.” Part of me felt like a failure as a “Christian mom.” But then I realized, I’ve been searching for Advent since their birth. What is this season for? I came to faith in a modern Christian expression that lacks tradition. So my first Christmas as a mom—I had no clue what spiritual traditions to share with my children. I turned to my information resource—the internet. And therein I found hundreds of ideas on Advent calendars and Christmas season activities. Bake sugar cookies. Read…

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    Steps to a Calmer, More Christ-Focused Advent

    The word ‘advent’ comes from ‘ad’ meaning ‘to’ and from ‘vent,’ a form of a Latin word meaning ‘coming.’ Advent is the season when Christians look back on the first advent, or coming, of Messiah, and we look forward to the second advent—his return. New Year’s Day in the church year, which follows the life and ministry of our Lord, begins this year on December 1—the day many Christians count as the first day of Advent. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a lot of churches observe Advent as a season of expectant waiting and the preparation of our hearts. Two millennia ago as Israel awaited the Messiah,…