Tag Archives: christmas

Above All Else Christmas Means LOVE!

“Fixing our eyes on God, living in the love He has for us, is a fool-proof way to love your neighbor better.”
~Bob Goff

     Christmas 2019 became history yesterday. At our house, we’re already thinking about taking down the beautifully decorated tree. It doesn’t look nearly as welcoming without brightly wrapped gifts beneath. In a few days, Ron will disconnect the timer which has turned on cheery outdoor Christmas lights since Thanksgiving.

     Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids,8-year-old Emmi and 4-year-old Reeve, lit the candle representing Jesus on the Advent Wreath. It joined the candles of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE.

     I now find myself asking, “Where the rubber of my faith meets the often mundane, cluttered and unkind road of life, how do I keep alive the Light of LOVE Christmas is all about?” I appreciate this perspective from Mother Teresa:

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…
yes, it is Christmas every time you smile…and offer…your hand.
~ Mother Teresa

     The word “love” is used over 200 times in the New Testament. John, the youngest of Jesus’ twelve original disciples, penned those words a whopping 71 times.

     John often described himself as the “one whom Jesus loved.” There wasn’t a doubt in John’s mind that he was beloved by Jesus, and he in turn loved Jesus deeply.

     So, how can I, how can you, love Jesus deeply?

     An elderly Apostle John wrote words answering that question. Words that remain relevant to you and me in the 21st Century.

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

1 John 4:7-11 (NLT)

     Challenging and inspirational words! If I’m honest, however, I confess way too often, I desire to be loved by Jesus more than I want to love like Jesus. This is an area of life where I want to grow. I know God honors a desire to love well and will give opportunities to do so–even sometimes when we’d rather not be faced with the reality of how far we fall from the standard of God’s unimaginable and unconditional love.

     As we recover from the stress of the Christmas season caused by too much—perhaps too much spending, decorating, gathering with family and friends and eating rich foods—I hope you’ll join me to reflect on the gift of God’s LOVE, EMMANUEL.

In closing today’s post, I want to quote one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite books: Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol,

“…And God bless us everyone!”

Sue Reeve

&,

I WANT TO ANNOUNCE

THE WINNER OF THE 2020 CALENDAR IS…

Lenore McDonald!

Lenore has been a long-time reader and frequent encourager.

Thank you to all who commented. You’ve blessed Ron and me. (This giveaway was so much fun, we’ll be doing it again!)

Advent – Week Four LOVE

     Yesterday marked the beginning of the fourth week of Advent. Ron and I lit the candle of LOVE, which joined the three previous candles, symbolizing HOPE, PEACE and JOY.

     If I were asked to describe God and could use only one word, I would choose LOVE. Since Jesus came as Emmanuel—God with Us—then we can say without reservation it was LOVE who came as a babe in a manger.

     In today’s post I’d like to highlight a Christmas hymn with which I wasn’t familiar. I appreciate the profound simplicity of these lyrics written by Christina Rosetti (1830-1864). [1]

Love Came Down at Christmas[2]

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

     Christina grew up in a highly artistic family. The beautiful young Italian woman lived in exile in England with her family. She was deeply devout but also suffered poor health. The fragile young woman found great comfort in writing poetry. Among her poems was the Christmas Hymn, Love Came Down at Christmas.

     In her poem, Christina personified LOVE as the babe born in a manger, realizing full well he was no ordinary baby. Rather, the babe of whom angels sang and shepherds and wisemen worshipped was the incarnation of God. The baby from Heaven took on human body and human nature. He would illustrate what Godly love looks like and build a bridge between God and humankind.

     If you’re anything like me, you’re immersed in all the last-minute details of this lovely but hectic season. You may be asking, “How in the world can I get everything done? Or, as one over-stressed, overwhelmed young mom commented with a sigh, “I don’t even know if we’re going to have Christmas this year!”

     Won’t you, along with me, take a moment today out of the busyness to reflect on the amazing gift of the incarnation—LOVE that came down at Christmas?

God, please immerse us in that LOVE this final week of Advent and as we celebrate Christmas…

Sue Reeve

 

  1. https://www.songandpraise.org
  2. https://www.songandpraise.org

Grace at Christmas…

Please excuse a second post today, but I think you will agree that it is a timely message worth re-sharing as Christmas draws near this can be such a difficult time of year for so many people. I hope you will find comfort and encouragement in this post.

     Christmas is a time when memories are made. Christmas is also a season of grace.

     Two years ago, I wrote about a special Christmastime memory that occurred during the most painful season of my life journey. I think the story is worth repeating, and hope in some small way, it may speak to your heart.

     Each December, I’m reminded of THAT Christmas. I felt certain it was destined to be unhappy. Instead, it has become one of my most cherished memories.

     A month before Christmas, my unwanted divorce was finalized. All during December, a cloud of doom and gloom hovered over my heart.

     Realizing it was going to be a difficult time for their daughter, my mom and dad arrived to spend Christmas Eve with my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and me in our tiny little rental house, located across the road from railroad tracks. At that time, it was all I could afford on my secretary salary and child support income.

     Angie had no inkling all was not well in her little world. She adored her grandparents, and they adored her. She was delighted by the little Christmas tree, festooned with bright bulbs and lights. She was ecstatic about all the “pwesents” under the tree. Her bubbly, bouncy personality brought so much joy and laughter. But, Angie went to bed before 8:00 p.m., which left several hours for me to deal with heartbreaking memories and the foreboding of a fearful future.

     Christmas Eve didn’t keep Mom from going to bed at her usual early hour. Afterward, Dad and I settled down to watch TV. As nighttime deepened, we could see through the window snow beginning to fall.

     Midnight was nearing when Dad asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Donning coats, hats, gloves, boots and scarves, we left the house, prepared to walk into Christmas morn.

     The night was perfect—much like a scene concluding one of those Hallmark Christmas movies. Not even a slight breeze disturbed the silent night. Huge wet snowflakes fell softly from an inky sky. Beams of light from the moon and streetlamps sparkled on the snowy white blanket.

     There was something so special about that brand-new blanket of snow. For several minutes, it insulated me from the interior noise that had been clanging in my soul for many months. The snow’s unmarred freshness spoke to my spirit about a clean slate, bringing the promise of new beginning.

     Jerry Sittser, in his excellent book about loss and grief, A Grace Disguised, reminded me of my period of personal loss when speaking of his own horrific season of grief. He wrote, “However difficult…I had to learn how to build a new life for myself and my family. My new circumstances were a given; my response was not. The tragedy became the catalyst for creative action.”

     Dad and I didn’t speak during the walk. Our only communication was the unspoken camaraderie between a father and his child. Looking back on that event, I think I sensed I could trust my dad would be there for me. I believe on some spiritual level, I knew my earthly father’s trustworthiness reflected the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father.

     Many passages in my copy of A Grace Disguised are highlighted. One says, “I want to honor the dead who have gone before me and bless the living who will come after me. Whether and to what extent I succeed will depend on the choices I made and the grace I receive.”

     Today, I honor my earthly father who has gone before me. The grace I received during the walk Dad and I took that long-past Christmas Eve when my emotions were bruised badly, and my spirit nearly broken, gave me courage to walk into a season of healing.

     People often tell me they appreciate the grace I extend. Those compliments are humbling but also a reminder when grace has been given to me, it enables me to bless those living and who will come after me.

My Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for the gift of lovely remembrance. Thank you for the grace you give, enabling and empowering us to walk beyond our painful losses. Amen

May your memories this Christmas season be sweetened with God’s grace…

Sue Reeve

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