Red Cups, Seasons Greetings, and Jesus

Starbucks-Red-Cup

(I was going to post something about microenterprise, but I wanted to get this up while it was still timely. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for the microenterprise post.)

Here we go again. Christmas is coming. And in the spirit of the season, Christians are getting angry.

  • We’re angry when someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
  • We’re angry that our kids are on winter break instead of Christmas vacation.
  • We’re angry that Starbucks has plain red cups.

Seriously? Do we have nothing better on which to spend our time and energy?

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Merry Christmas

Our daughter Karin, now married with two young girls, wrote this letter to Santa way back in 1988 at the tender age of four. We unearthed it during our packing and thought we’d share for your enjoyment. Note that she dictated, and mom wrote the words down. (I should point out that we hadn’t neglected Jesus, especially at this time of year. He just didn’t happen to be mentioned in her letter.)

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My Gift

The story of Israel and Judah is mostly a sad one. King after king rejected God, with disastrous consequences. David’s example of passionate obedience became the “gold standard” against which all the future kings were measured—and most were found wanting.

Solomon, with all his wisdom, still married foreign wives, who brought their pagan idols into their marriage and into the popular culture. It’s therefore no surprise that his son Rehoboam became an idolator. Consider 2 Chronicles 12:

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Let There Be Light

Reading the news this morning, it would be easy to be depressed. Evil seems to be winning. I know the media tend to focus on bad news, but this latest set of headlines seemed worse than usual. As I prayed over some of the various issues, the word that kept coming to mind was “darkness.” We live in a world filled with deep darkness.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

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“Is that all there is?”

How was your Christmas? Did you finish the day fulfilled? Were all your longings met? Were you happy the entire time? Can you look back and say, yes, I wasn’t a bit disappointed?

Me neither.

I’m sure you’ve seen the classic cartoon of the kids surrounded by shredded wrapping paper, boxes, and piles of new toys. Amidst all that plenty, they’re asking, “Is that all there is?” Christmas comes with so much hype, of course we feel a bit let down afterward. How can a single day (or two, depending on how you celebrate) meet all our expectations?

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Grown-up Jesus

You know the words:

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes;
I love thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky and stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.

With “Away in a Manger” running (and running… and running… ) through my head, it’s easy to focus on sweet baby Jesus, laying calmly in a bed of straw, never making a fuss even when he wets his swaddling cloths. That Jesus is easy to love. He’s non-threatening, making no demands on my time or resources. Baby Jesus doesn’t ask me to give up my pet sins. He doesn’t ask me to love the unlovable. He doesn’t ask me to lay down my life for His sake.

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What Jesus Deserves

I’ve been talking all month about what sorts of things we can give Jesus for Christmas. A few weeks ago, our Global Sunday School showed the following video clip from a sermon by Paris Reidhead*. It highlights one more item on Jesus’ list… perhaps the most important item of all. What could be bigger than giving him our love for others and own love and devotion? Take five minutes, watch and see.

*Paris Reidhead (May 30, 1919 – March 23, 1992) was a Christian missionary, teacher, writer, and advocate of economic development in impoverished nations. (Wikipdia)