Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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WRITTEN IN THE SKY – Dec. 24

December 24, 2015

“saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  Matthew 2:2

I love art.
I am a fan, not an expert.

As a fan, I can appreciate the beautiful; marvel at mastery; admire creativity; absorb emotion.  However, the artist’s meaning is often lost in mere fandom.  An artist’s message often flies over my engineering oriented head as I just appreciate the exhibition.

I am greatly assisted by the art experts who explain the symbolism crafted into a piece.  I love the pure joy in reading a work of literature for entertainment.  I also love the delightful astonishment from the revelation of a carefully crafted message imbedded in a work of which I was oblivious.

I often appreciate art in its various forms and know that I am missing a deeper meaning.

This is how I feel about the night sky.
I am a fan, not an expert.

I marvel at the beauty of the stars on a cloudless night.
The images from the Hubble space telescope are as beautiful to me as any painting.
It is easy to get lost in the fandom of a star-lit sky.
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I know that many who stare at the same sky, will not see any meaning.  They see chaotic beauty.  They see an expanding universe of fascinating happenstance.  They may wonder what is out there, but they don’t see art because art necessitates an artist.

I see an Artist.
However, the meaning in the artist’s art flies over my head on most nights.

This is why I appreciate the film The Star of Bethlehem.  This film provided me with that feeling of delightful astonishment in the revelation of the Artist’s meaning in the night skies during the marvelous events that we are celebrating this Christmas.

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In that night sky:
Jupiter, Planet of Kings, was coming into a close conjunction with the star, Regulus;
Sharu is what the Babylonians called Regulus, which means ‘king.’;
Rex is what the Romans called Regulus, which means ‘king.’;
At the beginning of the new Jewish year, the Planet of Kings met the Star of Kings.
~Bethlehem Star Coronation

In that night sky:
Jupiter, the Planet of Kings, was rising in the east;
Over a period of months, Jupiter reversed course in what is called retrograde;
However, Jupiter was to reverse course on three occasions, closing in on Regulus each time.
Jupiter, the Planet of Kings, created a halo around Regulus, the Star of Kings.
~Bethlehem Star Coronation

In that night sky:
As Jupiter was beginning the coronation of Regulus;
The constellation Virgo, The Virgin, was rising in the east behind Leo (Lion);
The Lion of Judah is the symbol of the tribe of Judah;
When Jupiter and Regulus were first meeting, Virgo rose clothed in the Sun;
A new moon was symbolically birthed at the feet of The Virgin.
~ Bethlehem Star: The Birth of a King

In that night sky:
Jupiter traveled on through the night sky from Regulus;
Nine months later, Jupiter aligned with Venus, the Mother Planet;
They aligned so perfectly that neither planet was distinguishable;
Their alignment made the brightest star within the life time of those living;
If one looked from Jerusalem toward Bethlehem in December of 2 BC,
the Planet of Kings hung over prophesied city of the Messiah’s birth.
~ Bethlehem Star: Westward Leading

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The Bible tells us about wise men coming from the east in search of the newly born King of the Jews whose star they had seen.  What an understatement.  I doubt if Matthew or any of the disciples understood all that had been written in the sky when the visit of the wise men was  chronicled.

Most missed the meaning in those night skies.  The few who looked up, probably saw a display with the appreciation of a fan at most.  It was only a small group of experts, wise men, who saw the meaning of the Artist.

The Artist created in the origination of His work the meaning of this ordained event.

The Artist was not surprised by anything in His creation.  History has not been His correcting of creative mistakes.  His masterpiece, proclaiming the coming of His Son in human flesh, was cosmic mastery of planets and stars, creating the most spectacular of birth announcements on the canvas of a night sky.

It was and is an extraordinary masterpiece.

Remember, as you gaze into the night sky of Christmas
that the meaning of this season was truly written in the stars.

God painted the night sky with:

A Star of Wonder
A Star of Light
A Star of Royal Beauty Bright

That Star is still guiding us to the Perfect Light!

COME AND SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD GIVEN FOR US!

 

PRAYER: Lord, you are GREAT and GREATLY to be praised.   I praise you Lord for you are my God, my Redeemer, my Savior.  You are my Lord who adopted me by giving the Light of the World for my sins.  Thank you for creating at the foundation of earth this story of amazing love.  Thank you for displaying your glory for all to see – give me eyes to see your glory and a voice to proclaim it.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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WORSHIP WEDNESDAY (Pentatonix)

November 25, 2015

I consider it a grave sin to listen to Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving.  However, the link to Joy to the World by Pentatonix was a temptation that I could not resist.

I confess a degree of self-righteousness as I listened to Pentatonix’s performance.  I piously wondered if they really believed what they were singing.  Consider the lyrics:

Joy to The world! the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonder wonders of His love

I don’t know what the members of Pentatonix believe.  I hope they believe that the Savior, the King, the Lord has come.  I hope they believe that He rules the world with truth and grace and that their hearts have prepared room for Christ.

They may believe or it may just be a song that will make them money during the Christmas season.

My self-righteousness was confronted with my hypocrisy.  I wondered how many times that I have sung Joy to the World without meaning it; how many times has a worship song emanated from my lungs and not my heart; how many times have I nodded along with a secular song, glorifying vileness…and meant it.

This Christmas season there will be an array of motivations that will not glorify God.  We will get the opportunity to see them in the market and pew.  I suggest that before we rant against those who are missing the “reason for the season”, we check to be sure that we truly mean what is coming out of our own mouths.

May this Christmas season be a personal season of worship to the glory of God – it is a matter of infinite importance.

“The Great God values not the service of men, if the heart be not in it: The Lord sees and judges the heart; he has no regard to outward forms of worship, if there be no inward adoration, if no devout affection be employed therein. It is therefore a matter of infinite importance, to have the whole heart engaged steadfastly to God.”
Isaac Watts, (wrote Joy to the World in 1719)

 

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QUOTE (Henry van Dyke) – April 10

April 10, 2014

Henry van Dyke (1852-1933), a modernist who pu...

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and lonliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thougts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!” ~ Henry van Dyke

In honor of Henry Van Dyke, an American Presbyterian clergyman and author, who died on this day in 1933.

Resources:
April 10 – Today in Christian History
Henry Van Dyke>Quotes

 

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“CHRISTMAS COEXISTENCE” – Dec 25

December 25, 2013

“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”” Genesis 11:4

What is the Greatest Threat to Mankind?

Drugs
Intolerance
Global Development
Genocide, International Conflict
Wealth Distribution, Destructive Technologies
Power, Global Environmental Degradation
Religion

I listen to solutions proposed by political, business, technological, and cultural leaders.  I have read books and articles by academics, think-tanks, and journalists.  I rarely hear any new solutions and every solution has an ancient commonality.

TED (conference)

It was this familiar commonality that was included in Jamais Cascio’s proposed solution which he discussed in a TED talk entitled “Tools for a Better World”.

We can save the planet, but we can’t do it alone – we need each other.  Nobody’s going to fix the world for us, but working together, making use of technological innovations and human communities alike, we might just be able to fix it ourselves. ~ Jamais Cascio

The ancient solution is the thread in various forms of  “Let Us Come Together”.

On one of the TED conversation strings, Kieran Sharp posed the ancient solution in response to the question, “How do we create a better world for all of us and future generations?”.

One thought I have had recently is to unite 3 areas of society to help lead a real change.  If we could bring the current government, economic and political leaders into one group, spiritual and religious leaders of all religions and spiritual directions in to another, and scientists ecologists and environmentalists in to a third. In this system, we could possibly make it that these three sections of leadership must agree upon all decisions made for the planet unanimously. ~ Kieran Sharp

I am reminded of the quote:  Our true nationality is mankind. ~ H.G. Wells

Mankind has always thought that if we can just eliminate the issues that separate us then we will be able to coexist.  Nations separate people.  Cultures separate people.  Ignorance separates people.  Religion separates people.

If we can just come together then we will be able to solve our greatest problems.
If we can just come together then we will not hurt each other.

Zé.Valdi / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Coming together always seems to play a role in mankind’s solution to eliminate what we perceive as the greatest threat to our existence.

If we can come together, we will be able to solve a lot of problems.  The removal of the issues that separate can be an excellent and necessary stage in the solution of many problems.  Learning to coexist can be an admirable goal.  However, the coexistence of people of different nationalities, races, and religions is not mankind’s greatest problem.

Mankind’s greatest problem is that we
cannot coexist with a righteous God.

The people of the land of Shinar coexisted.  They had the same language.  The call for unity when out and they came together to build a city of renown.  Their unity was so great that God acknowledged that, “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6b)

Probably the first example of large scale human coexistence was shattered by God.

So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Genesis 11:8

God destroyed the coexistence of the Shinarites (people in the land of Shinar) because it contributed to their pride related to independence and disobedience.  God knew that the greatest need of the people of Shinar was not their coexistence.

Their greatest problem was coexisting with a righteous God.

Their act of coexistence was actually an act of disobedience against God.  That is often the result when mankind makes coexistence their primary solution.  It gets stated like this comment in the same TED conversation strings about “How do we create a better world for all of us and future generations?”.

Look at America and look at your question. Religion is the problem. God tells a preacher to tell his congregation that jobs for white people are more important than the water and air we need to survive and an entire political party begins working on destroying the environment in the name of God. God tells a preacher that women are lesser beings and not entitled to equal rights – and is inferior to a fertilized cell – and women’s rights are set back 50 years almost overnight. God tells a preacher that homosexuals choose their gender attraction and homophobia sprouts up. Christianity is frequently referred to as the American Taliban.  It has become so aggressive in the last 20 years, that I fear it. These people are so cruel that they don’t honor our Constitution now. What will cause them to honor some other laws that their God doesn’t like. ~ Grace Greene

I can understand Ms. Greene’s concerns.  She attributes to Christianity all of the responsibility for preventing a unity that would solve the problems that she perceives as greatest. For many people like Ms. Greene, toleration is their religion.

Toleration is the best religion. ~ Victor Hugo

Coexistence, that ancient solution to create a better world, will inevitably collide with a God determined to separate a people for Himself.  Christmas represents this fundamental problem for the people of the world.  Many believe that Jesus came to bring peace on earth for all people.  They think that the message of love that Jesus preached will bring about a coexistence of all people.  The peace that came with Christ was for those who God is pleased with.(Luke 2:14)  The coming of Christ did not usher in an era where the people of all religions and atheists will coexist as if that was the solution to our greatest problem.

Jesus came to transform people.  When Jesus saves people, He separates them.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Matthew 10:34-35

The Gospel of Jesus Christ separates people;
it always has and it always will. 

The gospel calls all men and women to repentance.  Repentance requires that we acknowledge our unrighteousness and separation from a righteous God.  Those who reject the gospel hate to be told that they are unrighteous and need a savior.  They hate the concept of needing to turn from the sins that they love.  They hate the division that acknowledging sin causes.

Repentance is not just the way into salvation, it is the way of salvation. ~ Timothy Keller

We, as followers of Christ, are called to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) but we need to be careful about the peace that we are trying to make.  The creation of a peaceful coexistence does not help those who do not have a spiritual peace with God.  A peace worked through by the ancient trap of coexistence is not a real peace.  During this season of Christmas, we should be intentional peacemakers for the peace that was ushered in by the coming of the Son of God.  However, the great joy of Christmas is that we have been saved from the greatest threat to our existence.

Christ told us how to be peacemakers of separation in a world clinging to their solutions of coexistence.  We are to speak the truth in gentleness and meekness, with mercy and a pure heart, and a willingness to be reviled and persecuted.  (Matt. 5:2-11)

It is a message that the world needs to hear, especially on Christmas.  Mankind can now coexist with a righteous God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  However, we should not be surprised by the push back that we receive when Christmas crushes any hope of the coexistence of mankind.

Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  Matthew 25:32-33

Coexistence is an illusion.  We can either coexist with mankind or we can coexist with God.  We cannot coexist with both.  The choice we make is a reflection of what we deem our greatest threat to be.

PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for sending your Son into this world to solve the greatest threat to my existence – my fallen, sinful heart.  Thank you for making a way that I can coexist with You.  Lord, I pray for all of those who hate the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I pray that You will open their eyes.  I pray that You will show them that the separation that comes from acknowledging sin in true repentance is truly good news of great joy to all people.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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QUOTE (Joseph Mohr) – Dec 11

December 11, 2013

English: Silent Night Chapel Picture of Josef Mohr

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love’s pure light. Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

~ Joseph Mohr

In honor of Joseph Mohr, author of the carol “Silent Night”, who was born on this day in 1792.

Josh Groban – Silent Night

Resources:
Joseph Mohr Penned the Carol “Silent Night” – 1792
Silent Night Lyrics

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