Immanuel Before & After Christmas

When we hear the word Immanuel, we might be quick to think of two words – Jesus and Christmas. It is at Christmas time, this time of year, that we celebrate Immanuel, that is, “God with us,” seen in the incarnation of the Son of God. We turn to both Isaiah 7 and Matthew 1 and find a most well-known passage in Scripture:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.

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Christians and Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick

I love Christmas. Personally, I greatly enjoy the lights, the trees, the scents, the cookies, the giving and receiving of gifts, the cold, the snow (if it comes!), the Christmas movies, the time with friends and family, the delicious and usually huge meals, and so much more.

Yeah. As I’ve stated not a few times – I love Christmas!

And, of course, even more, this is the day the church celebrates the coming of Christ into our world. Light stepping into darkness. The servant king born as a lowly child. The creator coming to commune with the created. I don’t see this as a little add-on to Christmas. But what I’d like to argue is that it is also ok for people to celebrate Christmas for all the other great things I mentioned above, things I also believe bring actual joy to the heart of God.

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The Untidy Christmas Story

5.-window-33c-Nativity-Barsam

Anyone who knows me will know that I love Christmas. I think it’s fantastic – the carols, the trees, the lights, the food, the family time, the movies, some restfulness and more.

Yes, I love the truth of the advent, or coming, of Christ into our world. But I also like the not-so-religious stuff as well (though, actually, much of the seemingly non-religious stuff was set up to point to things eternal).

However, there’s a little problem that can be present with the overly pristine setting of Christmas. The true Christ-mas story is really not that tidy. Not simply because we read of Jesus being placed in a feeding-trough (Greek phatné) – though that could be considered scandalous enough. But because of how the whole story plays out. Continue reading

Music Monday – Toad the Wet Sprocket

Toad-The-Wet-Sprocket-Walk-On-The-Ocean-437113Today’s Music Monday is brought to you by a song from the 80’s-90’s band, Toad the Wet Sprocket (though they did recently release a new album in 2013).

The song I want to introduce you to is Walk on the Ocean, which was released on their 1991 album, fear. The album went platinum. Though they are more known for the song, All I Want, from this particular album, it is the song, Walk on the Ocean, I would like to introduce you to (or remind you of).

Listen below.

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Before Advent

adventcand51Today marks the beginning of Advent in the church calendar. It’s a day celebrated by millions upon millions as we prepare for the coming of the Lord, remembering what happened in that small town of Bethlehem just over 2,000 years ago.

Normally, when we begin to offer reflections during the season of Advent, we start with Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:26 – the announcement that the Christ will be born. And while those 2 accounts carry great import for God’s people and the world, the story doesn’t actually begin there. Continue reading