Merry Christmas!

 

          I know!  I know!  To be “politically correct” here in USAmerica, we’re not supposed to greet people with “Merry Christmas” these days.   The word “Christ” seems to offend a lot of people.  But…I’m saying it anyhow:  “Merry Christmas!” So there…  Let the political correctness police come and arrest me!  Slowly but surely Christmas is being deleted from our culture, being replaced by such events as “Winter Holiday” and “Celebration of the Winter Solstice.”

 

 

          You do know, don’t you that Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th in the year 0?  No, He was most likely born in the spring of the year, probably in April.  We can’t prove that one way or another, so I have no quarrel with celebrating his birth on December 25th.  But, why stop with celebrating his birth on just that one date?  The important thing in our culture and society is that we continue celebrating his birth, whenever He was born.

 

Backward, Turn Backward

          God transcends the four dimensions of time and space, “residing” in a hyperdimensional “place” called eternity.  In fact, current science tells us there are many more dimensions than only the four we live in.  Some say there are at least 10 dimensions…or many more.  God transcends all of them, no matter how many there are.  And…because of those many dimensions beyond time and space—hyperdimensions—time can actually turn in on itself and go backwards.  Scientists have proved that mathematically, although they haven’t seen  it happen in real life…yet.  God dwells “outside” of and “above” time and space so that past, present, and future are all simultaneous to Him.  For God, everything is always “now.”  That being the case, from God’s eternal perspective his coming to earth as a human baby    is    occurring    “now”—as well as 2,000 years ago.  For God, time really can go backwards:  not actually, but are you getting a feeling for what I’m trying to say?

 

          From God’s perspective in eternity, the entire life span of Jesus—his conception by the Holy Spirit, his birth from a virgin mother, his sinless life, his cruel death, his resurrection from the dead, and his return to heaven—are always “now.”  So…God gets to celebrate Christmas all the time—everywhere and everywhen!  God is continually—always and ever—pouring out his love to all humanity—from a manger in Bethlehem, from a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem, from an empty tomb, and from his throne of grace in eternity.

 

          Here are some words I’ve added—in part—to a Celtic song:

Here is love vast as the ocean;

Lovingkindness as the sea.

From the Mount of Crucifixion

Grace flows down eternally!

          Let’s not limit God to some events that happened in our four-dimensional time and space 2,000 years ago.  Let’s not limit Jesus to a baby in a manger in a hillside cave/stable 2,000 years ago.  Yes, we celebrate our Saviour’s birth each December 25th, but we can celebrate it over and over throughout the year.

Immanuel

          You’ve heard Jesus called—or named—Immanuel, haven’t you?  By the way, the word is sometimes spelled with an “E” as the first letter.  Immanuel is found in Matthew 1: 23, quoting from Isaiah 7: 14.  Immanuel is a Bible word meaning “God is fully present with us.” But it doesn’t refer only to when Jesus was born that God became “with us” as God in human form.  No, it means that since the time of Jesus God is with us in the sense that He is now always fully present with us…and in us.  Yes, God is always with us, living inside us  in his “unbodied form of the Holy Spirit.”  He is fully present with us now during this mortal stage of our journey.  He will be fully present with us when we die.  And He will always be with us in the eons of time to come and in the eternal state after the universe and the earth are freshly renovated and restored.  So…because God is always fully present with us and in us, we, too, can join God in celebrating Christmas all year long.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas Gift-Giving

         What gifts do you hope to receive for Christmas this year?  What presents do you plan to give for Christmas this year?  How much will you be spending?  How much can you honestly afford to spend?  Why do we practice Christmas gift-giving in the first place?  Oh, I know all about Saint Nicholas…and how the wise men brought gifts to Jesus when He was a toddler...and how gift-giving at Christmas has just “always been done.”  But has it?  Really?

 

 

          Wanna know when gift-giving by God’s people actually began?  I’m glad you asked. Gift-giving as we know it today—from a biblical perspective—actually began about 2,500 years ago during the time of Queen Esther in the Old Testament.  After God delivered Queen Esther and the Israelis of that day from an evil plot to kill all of them, they celebrated “with days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.” (Esther 9: 22).  500 years before Jesus was born, God’s people began giving gifts to one another and presents to the poor!  But if our custom of giving gifts to others at Christmas began with the wise men giving gifts to Jesus, why do we give gifts to one another?  Why don’t we still give gifts to Jesus—instead of to one another?  After all, whose birthday is it?  Aren’t we supposed to give birthday gifts to the one whose birthday we are celebrating?  So why do we give gifts to Uncle Ned and Cousin Harry and Baby Margaret instead of to Jesus?

A Tectonic Shift in Thinking

          Maybe we need a radical shift in our thinking about who we should be giving birthday gifts to this time of year.  Maybe we need to give gifts to Jesus instead of to other people.  Maybe we’re missing something by what we’re doing.  Maybe we need to change something—beginning this year.  Jesus said on one occasion that there will always be poor people.  I take that at face value.  I believe there will always be poor people, both in this life and in the age to come after Jesus returns to establish his Kingdom here on earth with his headquarters at Jerusalem.  Some folks teach that after Jesus returns to earth, He will instantly make all things new by Divine fiat.  I don’t hold that view.  Instead, I firmly believe that it will take a minimum of 1,000 years for Him to lay the groundwork for ushering in a fully restored universe and earth before we enter into a state of being called eternity.

Jesus Begins to Change Everything!

          For example, I believe it will take at least a few centuries after He returns for Him to firmly take control of all earth’s governmental entities.  It will be the same with earth’s educational systems.  And taking apart earth’s military-industrial establishments, turning all of that vast industry into peaceful purposes.  And restructuring all earth’s economic systems, finally beginning to truly eradicate poverty once and for all.  Having said that, the poor will continue to exist on this planet for a long time to come.  Jesus expects those who “have” to help those who “have not.”  So…during this Christmas season, why not give gifts to the poor around you?  No one is so poor that they cannot locate someone nearby who is just a little poorer.  Jesus said in Matthew 25 if we aid and assist those who are less well off than we are, that is the same as serving Him.  How much money are you planning on spending on gifts to others this Christmas?  Even putting some of it on your credit card that you won’t be able to pay off for months?  Why not take what you can honestly afford to give…and give it to the poor in your community or locale?  Give it in Jesus’ Name!

Joy In Giving

          I guarantee you will find much more joy in giving if you will do that rather than spend money you don’t even have for gifts no one uses.  Or for gifts that are used for only a short while and then just tossed aside on a pile in the attic, garage, or basement with last year’s Christmas gifts.  You and I cannot eradicate poor-dom from planet earth—at least not until after Jesus returns.  Only King Jesus can—and will—eradicate poor-dom after He returns to fully establish his Kingdom on earth.  But…we can help one poor person or one poor family in our locale during this Christmas season.  I guarantee that not very far from you wherever you live on this planet, there is at least one poor person or family you can help with gifts in Jesus’ Name!  Do you remember that Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”? (that’s in Acts 20: 35)  Do you believe what He said?  I do.  It really is more blessed to give than to receive.  I don’t believe that’s simply a statement Jesus made.  I believe it’s a promise as well.

 

I Double Dare You!

         When I was a child, my friends and I used to play a game called “Double Dare.”  We would double dare—challenge—one another to do something risky, or scary, or even wrong—just to see if we had the courage to do it.  I double dare you to make a major shift in your thinking this Christmas season and give gifts to Jesus instead of to one another, thus helping the poor as they did way back in Esther’s time 2,500 years ago.

         It’s Jesus birthday; let’s give our gifts to Him instead of to one another!

           C’mon, I double dare you!  Talk it over with your spouse, your children, your church, your home Bible study group, your friends, your office co-workers.  And then just do it!  You may be protesting, “But, what will people think!  What will my children say?  What will my family think? We’ve already bought most of our presents?  I’ve already told________what I’m getting for them this year.  The kids are already expecting_________.  I’ve already charged everything to my credit card.  I’ve placed lots of things on layaway at K-Mart.”  Here’s  my  response  to  all  those   excuses:  “S-o-o-o-o!  Who are you trying  to please?” Return those things.  Get your money back.  Remove things from layaway.  Explain your changed thinking this year.  Talk things over with your family.  Find a poor person or family in your locale.  Bless them richly this Christmas day!  Spread your joy.  Bless someone poor in the Name of Jesus.  Make God happy.  He will take great delight in your new approach to Christmas gift-giving.

 

Give gifts to Jesus this year and all your years to come!  Remember, He is always fully present with us and in us!

          “For a child has been born—for us!  The gift of a Son—for us!  [When He returns] He’ll take over running the world.  His names will be:  Amazing Counselor, Mighty God, Father of all time and eternity, Prince of Peace.  His rule over earth will spread, and the peace He establishes will be limitless.  He’ll rule from the historic throne of David over that coming kingdom, which He’ll place on a firm footing   and keep it going with fair dealing and right living,…lasting always.”                                                                   

--Isaiah 9: 6 and 7, paraphrased

To think about this month:

 

 

“Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and LIFE to us He brings,

Risen with healing in his wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that we no more may die,

Born to raise the children of earth,

Born to give us second birth.

Hark!  The herald angels sing:

‘Glory to our newborn King!’”

--written by Charles Wesley, 1739

--slightly adapted

Bill Boylan

Life Enrichment Services, Inc

Website: www.leservices.org

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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