Daily Archives: December 19, 2013

traditions: caroling

When I was a kid, the Calvinettes (now called G.E.M.S – Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior) group I met with weekly on Monday evenings would go to the local nursing home and would sing Christmas carols. The same happened in high school when I joined the choir.

I loved it.

As a child, I loved to sing. I still do, but I loved it in that environment. I could sing at the top of my lungs if I wanted to and no one would care. It was the opportune moment.

I also enjoyed chatting with those older, and much wiser, people. Seeing us kids probably made them feel young for all of two hours and spending time with them was a blessing I won’t forget as long as I live.

Prior to the loss of my great grandfather in 1996, I enjoyed stopping by his room at that nursing home to visit.  When I was little, I’d curl up on his lap and listen to the stories he would tell and enjoy my one piece of old fashioned Christmas candy.

I miss those days.

Carols for me then, too, where another way to tell the world of Jesus.

Granted, most of those songs can be over sung and over-done, but I never tired of it. I still haven’t. The minute Halloween is over, I “season” in my holiday tunes and after Thanksgiving, they’re in full swing.

I love Christmas music and, thanks to St. Francis of Assisi, they’re here to stay.

He is credited with the first carols sun during a worship service. He’s also credited with the first Nativity display and introduced those carols during a Christmas midnight mass.

I have yet to join in on any caroling events here in Minneapolis…maybe next year now that I know they exist. I’m also thankful for the freedom to sing those songs here in America – each one (with the exception of those written for mainstream audiences) tells the story of Christ’s birth.

See today’s post on one of my favorites: Go Tell It on the Mountain.

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

go and tell

When lo! Above the earth rang out the angels’ chorus that hailed our Savior’s birth.

“…I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Luke 2.10 NLT

What is your initial reaction when you hear good news?

Do you pick up the phone and call your closest relative, whether that be your mom or your brother? Do you contact your best friend and tell them? Or do you keep the news to yourself?

Rarely would a person do such a thing.

I remember when I was first asked to come along with a team of not just really close friends, but fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to help plant a new church in Minneapolis. I’ll be honest in the fact that the word Minneapolis was what first made my heart sing: I’d always wanted to live in that city. But, pairing that fact with expanding the Kingdom of God in this manner…well, I couldn’t think of a better reason to move there.

When Rick, my college pastor and friend, asked if I would be interested in joining that team, I immediately said yes and, even though I was advised to keep that under wraps, I couldn’t wait to tell my folks. I called them immediately from the car:

“You wouldn’t believe the good news I have to tell you!”

That statement and the news was met with What about your job? What about your friends here? What about the life you’ve built here? Are you being paid to do this? What about us?

In short, my response was: God will provide.

He always has.

And honestly, I hadn’t really built much of a life where I lived at the time. I spent the majority of my time either at work, at my parents’ farm or in Brookings, SD, where most of my friends were. I was eager to move on to the next thing God had for me – this wasn’t all he had planned for my life and I knew it…I could feel it.

And he did provide.

He gave me a job, which I’m officially at now and a place to live, both before the permanency of my job and after.

And he continues to provide.

Just as he always has and always will.

Two thousand years ago he provided his Son – born as a baby, God confined to human flesh, who grew up, worked a 3-year ministry and gave his life to save us all from an eternity separated from him.

What love!

How could we keep that good news to ourselves?

It’s meant to be lived out. It was intended to be shared.

Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Isaiah 62

Even God couldn’t keep it to Himself:

“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.” Luke 2.10

He brought the Good News through the greatest spectacle possible: “a vast host” of angels appeared to seemingly random shepherds in a middle-of-nowhere field. Holy shine shone sown and their voices rang out – a show-stopping display of glory, one of the best in all of history.  And the odd part? The news was delivered to shepherds…not kings, royalty or those in high standing in their culture. This goes to show that no stone should be left unturned when we share news like this.

And Jesus himself didn’t keep this news to himself:

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10.10

When he began his ministry of teaching, he did not spread the Good News by word alone, but by how he lived and what he did. The blind received sight, the lame walked and the dead were raised. He went away to spend time alone with his Father, just as we should. He modeled the way a child of God lives. He did it all to communicate beyond words what the Good News meant and he asks us to do the same.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these news disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” – Jesus, Matthew 28.19-20a

Are you sharing the Good News in every way that you can? Why or why not? If not, what would it look like if you lived this out each and every day?

Go! Tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere!
Go! Tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born!

To listen to my favorite version of this song, click here.

© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

December 19: Christmas is for freedom

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. Hebrews 1.14-15

Jesus became man because what was needed was the death of a man who was more than man. The incarnation was God’s locking himself into death now.

Christ did not risk death. He embraced it. That is precisely why he came: not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10.45).

No wonder Satan tried to turn Jesus from the cross! The cross was Satan’s destruction. How did Jesus destroy him?

The “power of death” is the ability to make death fearful. The “power of death” is the power that holds men in bondage through fear of death. It is the power to keep men in sin, so that death comes from a horrid thing.

But Jesus stripped Satan of this power. He disarmed him. He molded a breastplate of righteousness for us that makes us immune to the devil’s condemnation.

By his death, Jesus wiped away all our sings. And a person without sin puts Satan out of business. His treason is aborted. His cosmic treachery is foiled. “His rage we can endure, for, lo, his doom is sure.” The cross has run him through. And he will gasp his last before long.

Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death.

Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones? How can you say, “Well, I’m not afraid to die but I’m afraid to lose my job?” No. No. Think!

If death (I said, death – no pulse, cold, gone!) – if death is no longer a fear, we’re free, really free. Free to take any risk under the sun for Christ and for love. No more bondage to anxiety.

If the Son has set you free, you shall be free, indeed!

© Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org