“‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another’ (1 John 4:11). Love expressed is love given. Love given is true gift. True gift is love completed. This is the more excellent way to give gifts.”
“A few years ago I walked into the holiday season with fresh wounds, and I was blindsided by how a season I once found comforting brought additional pain. That calendar year had brought so much suffering: we had lost loved ones, our marriage had been through a rough season, our adoption plans had been halted, my husband was in the middle of a career change, and we were walking through a family crisis. I’d even been diagnosed with PTSD from all the shock and change. Sin, death, and brokenness seemed ever-present, and the raw grief prevented me from celebrating the holidays like I used to.”
“Jesus isn’t threatened by Christmas gifts. He doesn’t get better when we diminish or downplay them, either by eschewing them altogether or by contenting ourselves with gifts that are frugal, that cost us nearly nothing and really aren’t that good. We don’t threaten the wonder of the incarnation when we give nice gifts to the ones we love and when we look forward to receiving them. We don’t need to spiritualize these gifts by assuring ourselves that Jesus is the greatest gift of all. We can just enjoy them on their own terms, we can enjoy them as one of God’s innumerable blessings to us. I’m convinced God is thrilled when we give good gifts, when we receive good gifts, when we enjoy good gifts. He’s a loving Father and what loving father doesn’t take joy in the joy of his children?”
“The beauty of this hymn is the careful, systematic, and concise presentation of the prophetic witness to the coming of Christ and the expectation of what He will bring. As the Word Incarnate, He will fulfill the Law of God, bring justice and righteousness, deliver the people, reign as King, bring light to the darkness, save His people whom He created, and be Emmanuel, our God with us. This is the promise of the first and second coming of Christ, and for this we hope, wait, prepare, and pray.”
“These five misconceptions remind us that sometimes our picture of scriptural stories is shaped more by popular perceptions and modern retellings than by the text itself. But when we take a closer look at the biblical clues, a wonderful—and hopefully more accurate—picture emerges of what happened that night nearly 2,000 years ago.
And what happened that night still stands as one of the most monumental events in human history. God became a man and entered our dark, cold world to redeem a sinful people.
And that is a story that makes Christmas worthy of being ‘Merry.'”
“It’s all too easy to look up at the end of December and—poof—realize the opportunity for meaningful reflection has passed, vacuumed up or packed away for next year, like another decoration. So this Christmas, how can we truly be present and not just buy presents? We find the answer in the most fundamental (and perhaps surprising) of places—in singing traditional carols together.”
“It was God’s own love for His creation that motivated Him to send salvation to fallen and wicked mankind, in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. And God sent His Son such that all that was necessary for the salvation of any and every human can found in His Person; for He is perfect and true God, consubstantial with the Father and the Spirit, and is also true, perfect, and complete man, consubstantial with the human race. As such, we must proclaim to our own tender consciences and to the whole of humanity the universal offer of the Christmas message.”
“The Charlie Brown figurine is there to remind me that the most liberating truths I’ve heard didn’t come to me from august heroes of the faith but from unexpected, childlike places, just like where I heard them in the first place. And it reminds me that what it takes to jostle me into wondering at great joy can sometimes be some good grief.
You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.”
“When we go home to our friends in Paradise, what shall we do?
First we will repair to that blest seat where Jesus sits, take off our crown and cast it at his feet, and crown him Lord of all. And when we have done that, what shall be our next employ? We will tell the blessed ones in heaven what the Lord hath done for us, and how he hath had compassion on us.
And shall such tale be told in heaven? Shall that be the Christmas Carol of the angels? Yes, it shall be; it has been published there before — blush not to tell it yet again — for Jesus has told it before, ‘And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost’ (Luke 15:6).”
“Christ crucified, Christ risen, Christ coming again. Him we proclaim, for your fellowship, for our joy. This ought to be the happiest place on earth, because we know the gigantic open secret. Joy unending, joy everlasting, joy that is with us, joy that is to come. We proclaim Christ, a real Christ, a human Christ, a divine Christ, a historical Christ. We proclaim him for the sake of joy. Your joy, our joy, and to the great delight of heaven.”
“This is the tension you and I are living in. All of the promises of God have found their yes in Jesus Christ, and you and I, walking in light, walking in life, full of the Holy Spirit, being ushered into his goodness and grace, still find ourselves in the space between. Here’s one of my favorite things on the not yet. This is the apostle Paul. It’s beautiful, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Zechariah’s Song & Simeon’s Song by CJ Mahaney