December 25, 2012

There Was Room in the Inn

Wallace Purling, a second grader who had trouble keeping up in the classroom, was chosen to be the innkeeper in the church Christmas Pageant. Wally was big for his age, so his refusal of lodging for Joseph and Mary would be convincing. Besides, he only had a few lines to learn.

On the night of the pageant, Joseph appeared, slowly guiding Mary to the door of the inn where Wally waited.

When he heard Joseph knocking, Wally opened the door and asked brusquely, “What do you want?”

“We seek lodging for the night,” Joseph answered.

“There is no room in the inn,” said Wally loudly.

“Sir, we are weary and my wife is heavy with child.”

Now Wally looked down at Mary, and there was an embarrassing pause until the prompter whispered his cue from the wings.

“No, be gone,” said Wally. 

As Joseph and Mary began to walk away, this Pageant suddenly took a turn that made it unlike any other.

“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally ad libbed. “You and Mary can have my room.”

A few people in church that evening thought the Christmas Pageant was ruined. Others considered it the best Christmas Pageant they had ever seen.

December 17, 2012

Shepherds Were the First to Learn

Shepherds Were the First to Learn

God invited his most creative angels to suggest how the birth of his Son should be announced to the people on earth. He began saying:
“His birthplace will be Bethlehem, the city of David, the Shepherd King, and His name will be Jesus, for He will be a Savior for all people.”
The Angel Michael, Protector of Israel, spoke first:  
“I suggest that humble shepherds be the first to receive the announcement, for Jesus will be a shepherd, guiding and protecting all people who choose to believe in Him.”
Metatron, the Patron Angel of Children, spoke next: 
“Most shepherds are children, and I like Gabriel’s proposal. It suggests that Jesus’ message to the world will be for all people regardless of their age or station in life.”
God’s Messenger, Gabriel had a special request:
“Father, your Heavenly Angels are bursting with joy on the occasion of the birth of your Son, Jesus, and we humbly and respectfully ask that we be given the great honor of making that announcement.” 
And so it was that ...
There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”                                               Luke 2:8-14                                                                              

December 11, 2012

A King Is Born . . . in a Stable!

Two thousand years ago, the people of Israel were anticipating the arrival of a King. It was a promise made through the prophets of the Old Testament like Jeremiah who proclaimed: 
“The days are coming.” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” 
Today, Christians thrill to the story of Jesus birth, but to the people of that time, a stable, a manger and shepherds were not the kind of circumstances anyone would expect for the birth of a king.

The fact is the Son of God wasn’t born like we expect a King to be born. He didn’t live like we expect a King to live, and he certainly didn’t die like we expect a King to die. But in the wisdom of God, he did far more than we ever anticipated and there was only one reason for it.

In 1980, the day before Christmas, Richard Ballenger’s mother in Anderson, South Carolina, asked her young son to shine her shoes. When he finished, Richard received a quarter for his efforts.

That evening, when Mom dressed for Christmas Eve Services there was a lump in her shoe. It was the quarter wrapped in paper on which Richard wrote, “I done it for love.”

At Christmas, we can picture God’s infant son lying in a manger, and somewhere in that makeshift crib, we can imagine a wadded up note that explains  everything:
“I done it for love.”

December 4, 2012

Losing Christmas Traditions

Year after year, the Christmas traditions we observed in the past are disappearing.

Until recently, the tree we decorated in December with lights, colored balls and candy canes was called a Christmas Tree. Today,  it is often referred to as a Holiday Tree.

School Christmas Concerts are now Winter Concerts and the programs no longer include carols. Look for cards with Nativity scenes in your stationery store, and you will find very few.

Clerks in stores and people greeting each other on the street now typically say, “Happy Holidays” instead of the “Merry Christmas” we used to hear.

Some people are angry about the loss of our Christmas traditions. They believe it is the result of an attack on Christianity by those who have no faith. More likely, it is a reflection of the fact that this nation has become a multicultural society represented by many religions and many traditions in addition to Christianity.

I lament the loss of the Christian traditions I experienced all of my life, but I will not allow that passing to lessen for me the joyful message of Christmas that God sent us a Savior who revealed to us that if you welcome Him into your heart, love and life will triumph over hate and death.

The Politically Correct may call it a Winter Holiday, but as long as people celebrate the birth of Christ, there will always be a Christmas.