Tag Archives: Christmas

Manger Scene

manger sceneWhen I was a kid, during the season of Advent we would always have a little manger scene out with the figures of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, a shepherd and three wise men. It was a child-friendly set, with almost like a Lincoln Log stable and Fisher Price style figures (I know I am dating myself with these references).

I just recently learned that this manger scene was a wedding gift for my parents, who were married 50 years ago on December 27, 1967. What a wonderful wedding gift to give: the story of the birth of Jesus in tangible form to share with future children as part of a family tradition.

My parents still have those figures and they still put them out. And I am again reminded when I see them of the marvelous story of how Christ came to earth to save us.

Continue reading →

12 Days

12 daysWe all know the song about the 12 days of Christmas that starts, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me … ” But do we really celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas in our homes? Our society tends to want to end the celebration on the 25th. But our church year calendar has the 12 days of the Christmas SEASON built into it.

The 12 days on the church year calendar span the time from Christmas Day to Epiphany (Jan. 6), when we celebrate the arrival of the wise men to worship Jesus.

So we as followers of Christ and followers of the church year calendar should do all we can to enjoy the entire 12 days of Christmas and not pack everything up on the night of the 25th.

Continue reading →

Cantata

CDI am singing in a cantata at my church again this year, and as part of the discipline for preparing for that event, our director provides CDs of people singing the music for us to listen to in the car. I find the experience interesting because I have the songs on almost a continuous loop whenever I am driving anywhere. And sometimes the juxtaposition is startling.

As I turn off the car in the grocery store parking lot, the last words I hear are, “Love came down at Christmas.” Somehow buying food becomes less of a chore when you know that.

Continue reading →

Christmas letters

Christmas letter

What will you say in your Christmas letter this year?

I confess that I am one of those people who loves composing and receiving Christmas letters. Maybe it is the writer in me, but there is something therapeutic to me about summing up the events of the past year in a single page and reminding me and all the friends and loved ones on my Christmas list that the Savior who was born for us in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago is still at work in our daily lives.

I love to hear the stories of how God worked in the lives of others during the past year and there is a sense in the very writing of Christmas letters that we are all in this together, that we are corresponding out of mutual love and respect and a bond with one another.

Continue reading →

Filling the Pews

When I was home over Christmas last December, there was a beautiful moment when all the members of my entire immediate family fit into one long pew at my parents’ church. My mom and dad were celebrating their anniversary that particular day (Dec. 27) and it was especially moving for them to see all their children with their spouses and grandchildren being together in one row in the house of God. It was a wonderful picture to me of what passing on the faith means.

pewsThe love and the faith that began with my mother and father were carried on in my life and in the lives of my brother and sister and their families. The baton has been passed, and we now are called to carry on the faith to our future generations. But as we know, the pews are not as full as they once were in “our day.” Attendance at traditional worship is not as much a staple of our weekend schedule as it once was in our Christian families.

That is not to say that people are not religious. It is just that they are expressing faith in different ways: at home, through online streaming worship services, through small groups at coffee shops.

Continue reading →

The Candle Effect

Candles

Have you experienced the candle effect on Christmas Eve?

When I was worshiping at my parents’ home church in Iowa City, IA, on Christmas Eve, one of the most touching moments during the service was when we all lit candles while singing “Silent Night,” which is a beloved tradition in many churches around the world. And I got to thinking about what makes it so special to people and to me.

What I attribute it to is what I call “the candle effect.“

The light of candles in a darkened space instantly makes us feel warm and happy inside and has a holiness about it that cannot be replicated in other ways by such things as battery-powered lights, etc. The flickering and waving of the candle light has the ability to make us sense the power of God Continue reading →