Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Joy of Christmas

"I'm grateful you're here today," Pastor Brad said as he welcomed us. He then asked the children if they are excited about Christmas coming, and used that to say we, too, should not lose this sense of excitement as adults. His message would be about experiencing Christmas, and life, like a child.

No Sunday school next week.
Our Christmas Eve candlelight service will be at 4:00 p.m. Wednesday.

Darlene's dramatic medley of classics helped transition us to a time of worship led by the women's chorus after the lighting of the Advent candle by Walt & Gwen.

Callie Johnson played a song while the offering was taken.

A time of prayer and praise .was followed by the women's chorus singing a medley beginning with O Holy Night.

The Joy of Christmas

Brad opened his message by citing two aspects of Christmas that stand out for him. On the one hand there is such a joy about Christmas, the wonder of what God has done for us and the whole Christmas story. On the other hand there is so much brokenness and hatred in many families and that causes untold pain, and it pains him as well to see the things people are going through.

This morning, however, Brad wanted to underscore the importance of re-experiencing Christmas like a child.

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And then he noted that Jesus said unless we become like little children we shall not see the kingdom of God..

Kids have mastered the art of living in the present, in the now. "Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, and the present is a gift." God gives us each day as a gift. Unwrap it. "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Sometimes we don't appreciate our day today because we're thinking about elsewhere. Or we're unhappy with our lives because we wish we had someone else's life.

Today is a gift, and like kids ripping open Christmas presents we can unwrap our days with excitement.

He shared an example of kids in Third World for whom even the smallest gift is received with enthusiasm.

Don't miss the moments in your life. You used to be thrilled by the beauty of a sunrise or sunset. In so many other ways we begin to take the moments for granted that we once appreciated.

Brad cited the manner in which his kids dance while the credits roll at the end of movies. Then he shared the way Mary burst into song when God's favor was bestowed on her.

I want to be like that. I never want to quit singing, because God has given us an incredible gift. And all He longs for is for us to unwrap it.

God's greatest desire is that we would embrace the gift, and grow up to be His children.

Matthew 1:23  "The virgin will be with a child... and they will call Him Emmanuel, God with us."

Brad shared a Chuck Colson story about one occasion when he was delivering gifts to the family of a man who was in prison. He asked the boy what his name was, and he said, "Emmanuel." Chuck told the boy that the meaning of his name was, "God is with us." The boy got so excited and ran to his mom saying, "Mom, God is with us!"

God is with us, and He is the only hope of the world. This hope is ours as a gift, by faith in the risen Christ.

God longs for us to embrace the gift. Maybe today is your day to unwrap it.

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