Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Presents - Jesus' Presence

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

A Prayer for the Opening of Christmas Gifts

“O Great Giver of all good gifts, make these beautifully packages and their contents more for us than simply objects and possessions.

Open our eyes… that we may see in these gifts the love and care that you have given us to share with one another. Grant that the sentiments behind every gift might be truly appreciated, and that our ‘Thank yous’ might be genuine.

Open our eyes… that these gifts might, in some small way, remind us of the many gifts you offer to us every day – food and family, clothes and shelter, employment and recreation, life and love.

Oen our eyes… that we may see in each of these gifts a tiny reflection of the greatest Christmas gift of all – the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

[-From the brochure “Jesus Presence; Our Presents” by Creative Communications for the Parish (St. Louis, MO) © 1993]

As you open (or have opened) the Christmas gifts of your household, may the joy of this day be yours, and may your gifts always bring to mind a recollection of God’s greatest gift to you and me… the baby Jesus! Remember, God loves you and I do, too! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

ECUMC Kenyan Christmas Celebration

For those of you who missed it, here is a short video of one of the "dance" songs from this past Sunday's  ECUMC Kenyan Christmas Celebration.  It was supposed to just be our Kenyan youth and children dancing, but they invited our youth to join them... not sure our Youth Minister (at far right) needs to quit his day job!  :-)  Enjoy and Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

1 Corinthians 13 - Christmas Version

“Those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

“If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shining balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my relatives, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my spouse and in-laws, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crystal snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ in my own household, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child or grandchild. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse or call the relative. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love to our families (and all people) will endure.”

As we prepare for the coming of Christmas, I pray that we will all recall love as the greatest gift we can offer each other, especially as we give it in and among each other as the family of God! Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

10 Commandments of Christmas

“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3)

1. You shall not let the secular replace the sacredness of Christmas.

2. You shall remember that Mary’s baby is God’s son, our Savior.

3. You shall make room in your heart for Christ and in your busy schedule for worship, prayer and service in His name.

4. You shall not forget the sacrifice Christ made on your behalf when he left the Kingdom of God to come to the Kingdom of earth.

5. You shall support the poor, the needy, the sick, the downtrodden, for in as much as you do it to the least of these, you do it to Christ.

6. You shall loosen the swaddling clothes from Christ and let him have freedom to work and rule in all areas of your life.

7. You shall not forget the name of the Christ-child, Jesus, for there is no other name under heaven or on earth whereby we can be saved.

8. You shall believe in the Christ of Christmas with all your heart, and reap the benefit from believing.

9. You shall do more than just celebrate Christmas; you shall do the work of Christmas.

10. You shall keep the spirit of Christmas all year long.

I invite you to let these wise words become a reality in your life this Advent season as we prepare for Christmas. Remember, God loves you and I do, too!