Posted by Anna
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
~ Isaiah 9:6 ~
Gathered to read the Christmas Story
After breakfast, we all gathered around in the living to read the "Christmas Story". But Papa took it farther than just reading the story... He brought into light some historical records of the surrounding political situations that were taking place; what the whole country of Rome and Israel, as well as a few other nearby countries were going through; and then what the people themselves were facing at that time, which brought us right into the account of Joseph and Mary at the time adjacent to Jesus' birth. It made the account reading come to life in a different way, a way that is not quite so foreign to our day in time, a way that brought Him closer to us as people and this world in which we live.
The Gift Exchange
With the size of our family, we have come to the conclusion that drawing names would be the best way to go. Talk about "Christmas in July", this past year we all drew names in July so we could be studying our special person and be prepared for the "day of revelation". One fun family tradition that we all have just happened to do every time we have drawn names is to keep who we drew a secret. Therefore, one of the joys of the early month of December is trying to catch who has who just for the fun of it :) We have two age groups that draw amongst each other (for the "fair execution" of the distribution). Then, of course, Aunt Rhoda's love gifts and cards from Grandparents are ALWAYS a highlight! :)
Enjoying our gifts of Love
The Reason for this Celebration
JESUS CHRIST ~ The Messiah Has Come!
In one of our family talks a few weeks ago, we were discussing a sermon that we had just heard about the birth of Christ, and Papa brought this point out that really struck home: We don't have to go through Mary to get to God, But God went through Mary to get to us. We people are so prone to trying to stick to the Law if we are going to have anything to do with religion, but God did not make mankind to remain at checking off the Law, He created us to have a living, vibrant relationship with Him! When man chose to sin, God chose to make a way for Restoration between God and man so that we could have that sweet fellowship and communion that was once known between God, the Creator, and Adam, His creation, in the garden of Eden.
His 33 years of living in this sin-sick world began as a baby in the womb of a very young peasant girl before she was joined in marriage to a man named Joseph. The day that we celebrate Christmas is know as the celebration of when God Almighty, the King of kings, was born into a young family who was struggling to make ends meet in a day when government oppression was very prevalent. Making his appearance known first in the small animal barn called a stable, He chose to come as a lowly, poor baby so that He could reach into the hearts of people like us. He didn't come to heal the healthy, He didn't come to supply the wants of the rich, He came to seek and to save the lost, poor and needy.
One of my siblings once asked Papa, "Did Jesus love the Pharisees?" and Papa's very wise answer was this: "Jesus loved the World, that's why He came. But the Pharisees didn't consider themselves part of the World..." One Preacher put the difference between Religion and Christianity so well, I thought I might insert it here:
~ Religion is man reaching up to God vs. Christianity is God reaching down to man ~
~ Religion is man-centered vs. Christianity is God-centered ~
~ Religion is outward conformity vs. Christianity is inward transformation ~
~ Religion is man's speculation vs. Christianity is God's revelation ~
~ Religion is hard work vs. Christianity is a relationship ~
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved." ~ John 3:16-17
What a reason for celebration! He has come that we might have peace and joy everlasting! His birth is not the reason He came. He came to die on the cross to save us from our sins so we could be clothed in His righteousness and live in fellowship with Him; but He chose to get there through birth, and that is what we are celebrating during this season:
"And there shall come forth a rod out of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked."
~ Isaiah 11:1-4 ~