Holy

Christmastime! For me, no matter what the year had brought or what the circumstances may have been, the songs of Christmas brought renewal and anticipation. “O Holy Night” … “Silent Night, Holy Night” … They are reminders of the “holy one” which the angel foretold of to Mary, this baby who grew to show us the way and to bring us hope (*Luke 1:35).

Holy, special, set apart, belonging to God. The words and songs bring to heart and mind the mystery and awe of God and of coming before Him in worship and praise. Can you imagine it? Can you see and hear the story unfolding on that holy night?!

And the angels rejoiced at the birth of His Son to a world so in need of him. Like the shepherds drawn to the stable and the wise men who came from distant lands, we are drawn to that baby, Jesus. The light of that star is the light we too seek.

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth…
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

The holiness of God. The holiness of that night. The holiness of infant Jesus, God’s Son, Emmanuel (*Matthew 1:23). When the world is dark and cold. Emmanuel. When the sun rises fresh and bright. Emmanuel. When we miss loved ones. Emmanuel. When the lights of Christmas shine. Emmanuel…

I am thankful for that holy infant Jesus, who came to us on a dark night. When I struggle with doubts and fears or am feeling worn or alone or afraid, the events of Jesus’ birth are welcome reminders of God’s holiness and presence. When joy and happiness surround me from family and friends and awesome new life, the Christmas story draws me into the life of that other family so long ago.

May the light of that star and the events of that story draw you too to our holy God and bring you comfort and peace.
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Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. NIV

Matthew 1:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” NRSV

Charlotte-Anne Allen
12/20/2020

Reflections on Christmas Trees

• Surround yourself with positive reminders
• Those positive reminders strengthen hope
• Decorations tell the story of God’s great love
• Keep Christ’s star ever on top to light the way
• Lights show the way and bring cheer and security
• We pray for messengers bringing good news of peace
• A safe place of rest is never too lowly
• Shelter and care are sometimes taken for granted
• The occupation of service is a universal call
• Watch over and guide those precious ones in your care
• Those who live humbly and compassionately are life’s greatest strength
• Like newborn babes and children… we seek nourishment
• Encourage each other and freely offer your all
• The constant evergreen love of God for us is the greatest of gifts

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/12/2020

Hosea 14:8b (God said,) “I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” NRSV … “I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” NIV

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. NIV

Celebrate

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That’s wonderful! Yay! Great! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! You did it!

We enjoy celebrating those noteworthy moments in life. Whether it be the result of long hard work, another year of life, a special anniversary, or a new life born… times of celebration express joy and excitement.

I remember the celebration of my mother’s 80th birthday. Friends and family worked to make this a special surprise. The church secretary asked my mom to stop by to pick up something and the plot was sprung! What joy shone on my mother’s face as gathered family and friends all wished her a happy birthday and expressed our love for her, to one who was so giving and compassionate. I treasure that memory.

I celebrate too, the quiet satisfaction of accomplishment… perhaps a completed task for work, a finished piece of writing, simple tasks around the house, or doing something for family or friends. These daily celebrations are as important as the larger occasions and are a source of contentment and affirmation of life.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the quiet of the night was awakened to joy-filled words of celebration! “Glory to God in the highest heaven,” the host of angels proclaimed, “and on earth peace…” When the shepherds found this newborn Son of God, they celebrated by spreading the news to all who would hear. * Can you imagine the amazement and excitement in the little town that night?

There were other celebrations in the coming days as well, the praise of Simeon when he recognized Christ and the thanks of Anna who shared the news of his birth to all of those who had been waiting for that day. *

When the wise men arrived at the home of the child Jesus, they celebrated through worship and through the giving of gifts. They too had been searching for the child who had been born to the world. *

Something which is especially meaningful to me is Mary’s quiet and strong celebration, simply stated in Luke 2:19. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Her thoughts must have gone back to the earlier encounter with her cousin Elizabeth as they celebrated together. * After months of carrying this child, now came further affirmation. Imagine her awe and joy, and perhaps also the fear or questions about what this motherhood would bring in days and years to come. All the pain, discomfort, whispers, and exhaustion must have faded as she looked upon her son and saw the face of God.

As we travel through life, may we treasure those moments of celebrations. May we ponder deeply and long the greatest gift of all, Emmanuel, God with us!

* Luke 2:13-30 (Shepherd and Angels); Luke 2:25-28 (Simeon); Luke 2:36-38 (Anna);
Matthew 2:10-11 (Wise Men); Luke 1:39-56 (Elizabeth and Mary)

SNOWY WINTER CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

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Our recent snowy weather has stirred up childhood memories of winters past with my family. Building snowmen was a group affair full of laughter and the usual banter. There were cold noses, snowball fights, sledding, and then hot chocolate to greet us when we arrived indoors to warm up.

In December, as Christmas approached, the house brightened with colored lights, ornaments on the tree, and candles. Angels, a wreath, greenery, and bows brought cheer and the manger scene had a special place in the living room. Putting up and decorating the tree was a story in itself as we rediscovered ornaments made in Christmases past, remembered times gone by, and heard tales of long-ago family Christmases. The kitchen was a special gathering place for baking and decorating Christmas cookies and cakes and for preparing the Christmas meal. Christmas day was family time, hearing the Christmas story and the reminder of God’s greatest gift to us, the excitement of opening a few simple gifts, and perhaps watching some Christmas programs on the television or playing with a new game. Good memories.

So, as we enter another “Christmastide,” may we cherish the simple, make way for quiet enjoyment with friend or family, reach out to others, and be thankful for God’s greatest gift of all through His Son, Jesus.

*Luke 1:30-33; Luke 2:1-20

Christmastide Journey

candle Christmas lights

Zechariah and Elizabeth upon the path
To them came joyful word
Rejoice, a son to fill their lives
Messenger to prepare the way

Mary and Joseph lead by God
Angel-greeted, faithful, and true
Rejoice, rejoice Messiah to come
Emmanuel, God is with us

Through Nazareth and Judean hills
Arrived at lowly stable
Rejoice, Bethlehem to see the child
Angel-announced and shepherd-followed

From eastern lands the wise men traveled
Followed a shining star of hope
Rejoice, rejoice a king is born
Gifts offered to humble home

To Egypt now, as former time
Now flee, oh flee far from
Earthly king 
blinded to good news
The story will continue 

Jerusalem upon the mountain
Journey on, journey true
Rejoice, oh people of faith
Step now, for Christmastide

Faithful comes a mighty God
Light shines to show the way 
Place of shelter, gift of grace
Worship now… u
pon this Christmastide journey