Monthly Archives: December 2022

The End

The End

When we read a bedtime storybook to our children, they tend to enjoy the final two words: The End. And we enjoy those two words, too, if we are truly honest with ourselves. We can go to sleep ourselves at that point or move on with the rest of our evening then. What is it about reaching the end of something that can be so satisfying? Maybe it is the feeling that a job has been accomplished, a period of difficulty is over or a time of waiting is done.

As we say The End to the year 2022, some or all of these reasons for satisfaction may apply. But probably for most of us, coming to the end of a year is hard because it means that time is moving on and our age is increasing.

If we take a step back as Christians, it is important for us to remember that the end of a year is only a foreshadowing of the end of time when Christ will come on the Last Day to take all believers to heaven with him. He will take us to a place where there will be no end. There will only be peace, love and joy forevermore. Come, Lord Jesus, come, and bring an end to every sin and suffering and strife. How satisfying that will be. Amen.

Christmas Scavenger Hunts

hidden gift

I remember that sometimes at Christmas we children would have to go on a scavenger hunt to find our “big” presents. We would open a box to find a note that said, “Go to the mailbox.” There we would find another note that said, “Look in the refrigerator” to discover another note that said, “Go to the closet in the hall.” There we would find a bicycle, or a dollhouse, or a computer.

On that first Christmas, the angels asked the shepherds to go on a scavenger hunt to find the biggest and best Christmas gift of all. They said:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12).

The shepherds were good at scavenger hunting. They said:

“Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

Are we good scavenger hunters this Christmas? Can we find Jesus amidst all the wrapping paper, cookies, candy canes, tinsel, trees and lights? The manger is still not hard to find. He is mangered in our hearts. Go to him with haste.

A Familiar Seat


This wooden chair with a counted cross-stitch cushion was passed down to me from my grandmother, who did the stitching. The chair fits well into the wooden features of my 1930s home. Each time I sit in this chair, I am reminded of sitting at the table with Grandpa and Grandma at meals around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other times of the year. There is a familiar feeling to siting in that chair. It feels like home, and the fact that Grandma stitched the place for me to sit makes it even more special.

As Christmas approaches and many family and friends will be sitting in all sorts of chairs old and new gathered around many a table, we need to keep in mind that Jesus is in the midst of us. His name Emmanuel means “God with us,” and he said in Scripture, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Jesus has a seat at the table, and his presence should be familiar and comfortable to us. Jesus feels like home, and he has a seat prepared for us at the banquet table in heaven. He knows we are coming there.

God knit each one of us in our mother’s womb and he stitches us into his family through the birth of his Son into the world to save us. Jesus sat at table with sinners in his lifetime, and he served a special meal to his disciples on Maundy Thursday of his body and blood in bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins.

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown” as Linus would say. Unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Make room for him at your holiday dinner tables through prayer and reflection and love toward one another.



When I read in Scripture about Gabriel’s visit to Mary to announce that she would be the mother of Jesus, I always have to laugh a little when it says Mary “wondered what kind of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29). Now there’s an understatement. Was this a greeting of death? A greeting of the devil? A greeting of a dream or hallucination in Mary’s own mind? None of these, it turned out. It was a greeting of good news from heaven. Gabriel made it clear that the message was coming from God and that Mary was specially chosen to give birth to God’s Son.

We call this event the Annunciation, and we sort of take this meeting for granted nowadays. But put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a moment. None of what she experienced made much sense at first, but she processed the information, and she took her role to heart, understanding and accepting the magnitude of her holy calling by the end of the angel’s visit, saying: “Be it unto me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

We don’t always understand at first what is happening when some life-altering events come our way (when we are unexpectedly greeted by a job change, a move, a pregnancy, for instance). But eventually we see the hand of God in the process and understand what positive plan God has in mind for us in the long run. Let our response to God always be: Be it unto me as you have said.

The Waiting Game


Advent is called the season of waiting, and we spend these days anticipating the birth of Jesus on Christmas.

In general, we as a people are not good at waiting. Psychologists have determined a few things that make a time of waiting better.

  1. Occupied time goes faster than unoccupied time. That is why it is good for us to stay busy in Advent, praying, worshiping, reading the Bible, finding and wrapping gifts and having special meals together.
  2. It’s good to get started. Restaurants give you menus. Nurses invite you back to a waiting room for the doctor. And we, as the people of God, start counting down the days until Christmas with Advent calendars and candles on an Advent wreath.
  3. Uncertain waits seem longer than known waits. We are blessed in Advent to know when Christmas is. We have a set number of weeks to wait and that builds comfort and confidence in us. We know that Jesus is coming at Christmas.
  4. Unexplained waits are more difficult than explained waits. The fact that the Bible has explained for us that we are waiting for a Savior from sin, death and the devil makes our waiting days more peaceful and calm. We even know that we are waiting for Jesus to come again to take us to heaven. That explanation is made very clear to us in Scripture: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

May these insights make your Advent waiting days meaningful and blessed.

Pulled to Pray

pulled to pray

I watched the movie Father Stu last month, a film which I highly recommend. One of the scenes in the movie involves Father Stu crawling to an altar in a church, pulling his mostly paralyzed body toward the cross to pray.

That’s how determined Father Stu was to pray to Jesus, asking him, begging him for help and guidance in the midst of a battle with inclusion body myositis, a rare incurable muscular disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Father Stu sought answers, and he would get them when Jesus presented him with the opportunity to minister to people who flocked to him while he resided in a skilled nursing facility. He was able to share with all those he met that prayer helped him realize that his suffering was a gift from God that drew him closer to the suffering of Christ.

Suffering is something we mostly want to avoid, but suffering can be a catalyst that pulls us, often kicking and screaming, to prayer, which, in turn, pulls us into a relationship with Christ that can become far deeper than we ever thought possible. Lay yourself before the throne of Christ this day in prayer and let him bring you peace in whatever struggles you are dealing with.

Check out this Bible study from our parent company, Bayard, Inc., based on the Father Stu movie: