Daily Archives: December 10, 2013

the gift that keeps giving

O star of wonder, star of night
star with royal beauty bright
westward leading, still proceeding
guide us to thy perfect light

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understand; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3.5-6 NIV

It’s often difficult for people to understand that Jesus was born just like us. He wasn’t born in aec0a0944fcddc228e81e7188d91e0220 luxurious place or a fancy hospital. He was born outside, in a stable. He came into a world filled with sin, yet he lived an absolutely perfect life. He came to lead us, and guide us into a loving relationship with God.

When I hear this song, I’m reminded of the wise men’s example of what complete submission to God look likes. The moment they saw that star, they likely dropped everything they were doing and embarked on a long, difficult journey. These men had no idea where they were going, but placed their complete trust in that star and that it would lead to where they needed to be. They devoted everything in seeking the Messiah no matter the cost. They gave of themselves just as Christ gave of Himself.

That is the gift that keeps on giving.

No material possession costs more than the time and love we invest in one another and in our relationship with God. Nothing costs more than giving something of value (even material value) up.

Are there areas of your life that you need to surrender to God? Recall the last time you submitted something to God. What happened? What did He do?

What would it look like in our lives if we would drop everything the way the wise men did and devote our lives to Jesus? What would it look like to live our lives in such a way that the material possessions we do own have little to no value in comparison to what we have in Christ?

traditions: mistletoe

How many of you hang mistletoe over doorways or in your foyer? Custom says that if you are foundc473914d938d92fa589a19375e59a1a1 under the mistletoe, then you are to be kissed.

Being a romantic at heart, I haven’t been “caught” under the stuff myself and honestly, I hope to – one day. If not, I’ll live.

I had to laugh at this year’s marketing campaign with Caribou – they have napkins with pictures of mistletoe on them. In case you need mistletoe at a moment’s notice!  It’s charming, romantic and full of nostalgia, but there is so much more to mistletoe that what we think:

In Scandinavia, mistletoe has an ancient association with peace and reconciliation. Perhaps meeting under the mistletoe for a kiss was a result of this tradition.

In a world ravaged by revenge, vengeance and retribution, Christmas is the perfect time to resurrect themes of reconciliation. Christmas is about bridging the divide between earth and heaven; the way it was meant to be. Christmas is about seeing and celebrating the presence of divinity and sacredness in everyday life. It’s about God and humanity in a restored relationship. Christ came to reconcile us with God.

And from a biological standpoint, mistletoe is known as a keystone species in that it has a disproportionately pervasive influence over its community. That is a fabulous association for Christmas, for the church and for Christianity. We, too, are to have a similar influence over our communities working for justice, peace and community as we spread God’s gospel – His LOVE – to those around us.

December 10: gold, frankincense and myrrh

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2.10-11

God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything (Acts 17.25). The gifts of the magi are not given by way of assistance or need-meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages.

Nor are these gifts meant to be bribes. Deuteronomy 10.17 says that God takes no bribe. Well, what then do they mean? How are they worship?

The gifts are intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way that fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it’s a way of saying, “The joy that pursue (verse 10) is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things, but for yourself. And this desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things, in the hope of enjoying you more, not thing. By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, “You are my treasure, not these things.”

I think that’s what it means to worship God with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.

May God take the truth of this text and waken in us a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart, “Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the King of Israel. All nations will come and bow down before you. God wields the world to see that you are worshiped. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you, and bring my gifts to say that you alone can satisfy my heart, not these.”

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