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Posts Tagged ‘Attention on Jesus at Christmas’

 

Decades ago at the birthday party of a childhood friend, each of us that attended was given a surprise ball. (Maybe you remember this party favor?) Thin strands of colorful tissue paper were wrapped around and around to make the ball, about the size of a small grapefruit. Among the layers were tucked small trinkets.

We sat at the young host’s dining table, unwrapping, discovering, and exclaiming, until we’d created little piles of treats and toys such as candy, erasers, miniature tops, finger puppets, rings, gum, and stickers—next to a large mound of tissue spaghetti.

But the best surprise was at the center. When all the wrapping was removed, each girl found a miniature doll with hand-painted features, and each boy found a tiny car—with wheels that actually moved.

The trinkets paled in comparison to the treasures at the center.

I’m thinking the Christmas season offers us many delights among the layers of things to do and places to be, including:

 

 

  • unpacking the familiar decorations, each one laced with memories
  • baking vanilla sugar cookies and scenting the house
  • reading Christmas cards and letters, bringing far distant loved ones close to heart
  • creating a jumble of colorful packages under the tree

Lovely, holiday moments for sure, but they pale in comparison to the heart of Christmas: Jesus.

He is the treasure, and everything else is mere trifles.

 

He is the way—for a world that is lost.

He is the truth—in a world full of lies.

He is the life—for a world that is dying.

 

And the wonders of His radiance far exceed our capability to understand.

For example, he is:

 

 

  • Emmanuel—God with each of us always (Matthew 1:22-23)
  • God incarnate–fully divine, yet became fully human (John 1:14)
  • Our compassionate Friend (John 15:15)
  • Omnisapient—all-wise (Romans 16:27)
  • Lord of our Righteousness, putting us right with God (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Our great intercessor, praying for us continually (Hebrews 7:25)
  • Able to create out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3)
  • Productive —always working on our behalf (Hebrews 13:21)
  • Faultless–absolutely perfect (I John 3:5)
  • The Alpha and Omega—eternal from beginning to end (Revelation 22:13)

 

 

There is nothing wrong with the Christmas traditions of decorating, baking, card-sending, and gift-giving. But they are just paltry trinkets—unless Jesus is preeminent within the celebration.

 

https://quotefancy.com/saint-augustine-quotes

 

And as we contemplate our Treasure, adoration swells within our hearts:

Lord Jesus, we bow in holy wonder before your supreme majesty, incomparable power, and unfathomable glory. You are the Morning Star! The King of kings! The Everlasting Father!

Yet, out of love for us, you left your throne and kingly crown to take on human form, giving up your majesty for a manger, supreme rule for severe restraint, and the beauty of heaven for the brokenness of earth.

What wondrous love is this, that you were willing to bear the dreadful curse for our souls? Our minds cannot comprehend.

 

 

But our hearts can sing in adoration of you and your overwhelming love that dispels the darkness with glorious splendor and ushers in eternal bliss—when we say YES to You.

 

You have opened heaven’s door,

Man is blessed forevermore–

Jesus, our priceless Treasure.

 

(Carols referenced: “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne,” “What Wondrous Love Is This,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Good Christian Men, Rejoice.”)

 

Art & photo credits:  http://www.publicdomainfiles.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.canva.org; http://www.jpl.nasa.gov; http://www.quotefancy.com; http://www.canva.com.

 

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 bibles

Dad has a large collection of Bibles in many different versions. Recently he gave me two of them. Very precious gifts, indeed. They represent countless hours of study and recording, because the margins are filled with his notes.

When I say countless, I’m not exaggerating. On numerous pages, Dad has squeezed five or six lines of fine, tiny printing in the upper margin, a space just ¾” wide. I almost need a magnifying glass.

To read his collection of word meanings, explanations, and applications has been bittersweet. Dad now has severe arthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Although he is still an avid reader, he is no longer able to write.

As Christmas has approached, I’ve wondered, what might Dad have written in his Bibles about the birth of Jesus?

The first note that caught my attention was from his New American Standard, Ryrie Study Bible (1976, Moody Press). The note concerns Mary’s song, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55). We looked at her beautiful prayer last Thursday, in the post titled, “Mary’s Song.”

Mary began her song by saying, “My soul exalts the Lord” (NAS). The New International Version translates that sentence, “My soul glorifies the Lord.”

Before we proceed to the quote itself, let’s examine those words, exalt and glorify. (No doubt that’s what Dad would do. And surely somewhere in one of these two Bibles I’ll come across a pithy definition or two for exalt and glorify. For now, I’m on my own!)

Exalt means to raise in status, to elevate, to glorify and praise.

Glorify means to give glory, honor, or high praise, to exalt.

Put in simple terms: to exalt and glorify is to compliment truthfully and profusely.

Now here’s what Dad wrote:

To exalt the Lord at Christmas, we need to refocus our attention on the event we celebrate rather than on the celebration of the event.

Oh, Lord Jesus. My eyes fill with tears as I think of all the times my attention has been on the celebration and not on the sacred moment when you became flesh and made your dwelling among us. Too often my focus has been on…

…the gifts under the tree instead of the implausible Gift of Yourself. You left the glorious riches of heaven, to be born into the depravity of humanity. I cannot fathom the depth of such love.

…the joyous, boisterous family get-togethers, instead of the supernatural get-together of all believers (including me, of all people) and God Almighty. Your birth, and especially your death and resurrection make our relationship with you possible. I cannot fathom that kind of sacrifice.

…the decorations and twinkling lights that make the house sparkle and glow, instead of You, the Light of the world, who makes my sin-bent heart sparkle and glow. I cannot fathom such transformation.

For these last precious hours of the Christmas season, 2012, I want to focus on You. I want to give you honor and praise for everything Your birth has made possible: the experience of your love, the benefit of your sacrifice, and the glorious transformation you generate within each of us. In the name of our Savior, Christ the Lord, Amen.

*See the post titled, “Mary’s Song,” from December 20, 2012.

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