Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas? No. Mary Christmas!
Dec 19, 10:09 PM (ET)
AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) - Merry Christmas to you, Mary Christmas. That's what the former Mary Young is hearing this holiday season, after she married Brian Christmas earlier this year.
"It was meant to be," Mary Christmas told the Daily Herald of Provo. "God has a sense of humor. What are the chances that it would ever happen?"
She has found, however, that she is not alone. Mary Christmas has been working at for three years and discovered there are as many as 100 other Mary Christmases in the United States.
The last name of Christmas has its origins in Wales, she said.
"It was given to people that were born on Christmas Day," she said. "Somewhere back there someone of my husband's ancestors was born on Christmas. It is not a super common name."
Christmas said her husband's grandmother, Joy Christmas, once was stopped at a counter at JCPenney, under suspicion for using a phony name.
The name brings compliments.
"For many people, it seems to make them happy. 'You are my favorite,' they tell me. 'I think of your name and it makes me happy,'" Christmas said.
Her husband, Brian, says the best part of her name is that he has Mary Christmas all year long, not just in December.

After Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful, Christ filled Christmas! I will be back next week with a new blog. To the person who sent the recent comment, thank you for the heads up. I have made the corrections.
In Him,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pondering These Things

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing
that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:15-19)

I suppose it was business as usual for the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth. They went about their task of watching over their sheep just as they had done many nights before. However, this night would be a very different one.

I imagine them lying about on a small hillside so they could see all of the sheep. Since it was night, they might have been tired, or they might have been complaining about having to work the night shift for the third time in a month, or they may have been talking or playing a game as they went about their work. Whatever they were doing, it was all interrupted by someone appearing right in front of them. As if that were not enough to startle them, this person was illuminated by a bright light.

They were certainly afraid, and the angel did what it could to calm them. The angel told them of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, and then just to put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, they were joined by a whole sky filled with angels singing.

Of course, the shepherds were excited, afraid, confused, and probably experienced many other emotions that night. The adrenaline was pumping, so they left the sheep and found the newborn baby Jesus in the manger. They excitedly told their tale to everyone they met along the way and at the stable. Everyone they told was just as excited as they were, except one.

Mary didn’t rejoice with the others at the re-telling of the shepherd’s story. Have you ever wondered why? I have.

The wonderful song Mary Did You Know? perhaps gets as near to the answer as I have found. Maybe she did know more than the Bible tells us. After all, she carried God Himself in her womb for nine months. She nourished Him with the food that she ate. She nursed Him and sustained His earthly life. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that she might have caught a glimpse of who He was, and would be?

She also may have “pondered these things” because up until that time, she, Joseph, and some immediate family were the only ones who knew who the baby was and to whom He truly belonged. When the shepherds came and told their story, she may have realized that her newborn, was not for her joy alone, but she would have to share Him with the entire world.

Jesus not only came to save her, but also shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, priests, kings, the unlovable, the downtrodden, drug addicts, pornographers, and you. This Christmas, allow the baby Jesus to warm your heart, but also allow Christ the Savior to wash you clean with His love. He loves you so much that He left Heaven to become one of us, so He could lead us to righteousness. There is no greater gift.

My prayer is for you and your families to have the most wonderful Christmas this year.
Merry Christmas from me and my family.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't skip Christmas

We are in the thick of the Christmas season. If you are like my family, by now you are beginning to feel the drain this time of year can put on you. As of this mid-December writing, we have almost finished our Christmas shopping, decorated our home, took the kids for Christmas portraits, attended three and missed one Christmas party, organized and hosted our daughter’s birthday party, preached three Christmas sermons, planned the rest of the advent services, and sang many Christmas songs.

I am sure your schedule looks very similar this Christmas. Perhaps we should all take the time to earnestly pray for one another, that the whole meaning and reason for all of this was because God became man. I know we get reminders of this from church and sometimes from television, but we need to remember it in our hearts.

Back in 2004, the Crossroads Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky decided to skip Christmas. They weren’t suggesting bailing out on the celebration altogether, just the bad parts: The stress. Spending money you can't afford to spend. The huge crowds.

"We want to encourage people not to get so caught up in the trappings of the season that they miss the heart of what Christmas is about," said Fred Turner, a minister at the church. "We are not calling for people not to buy presents or put up trees, but we are trying to turn the focus on the things that matter."

He said the church got the idea from John Grisham's newest book, "Skipping Christmas.” The story is about Luther Krank, who is sick of the high costs of Christmas, and persuades his wife to skip the holiday and spend the money on a cruise. But when his Peace Corps-bound daughter decides to come home for Christmas, he goes into a frenzy of preparations.

So how did it turn out for that Kentucky church? I’m not sure, but if you look at their church website, you see the normal church Christmas information, and no evidence that Christmas has been scaled back in 2007. The website they set up in 2004 called skipchristmas is not functioning anymore, and Fred Turner who came up with the idea is no longer listed as a minister at the church.

Maybe we’re not ready to skip Christmas. Maybe instead of skipping it, we should embrace it. Maybe we should really go all out. Go ahead and put more icicle lights on your house, go ahead and wear red and green together all month, go ahead and make pictures with Santa. However, instead of doing it out of obligation, do it out of celebration.

Perhaps it will take some patience. Perhaps it might take some Tylenol. Perhaps it might take some extra effort on your part, but in doing all of the things that make Christmas both wonderful and harried, if we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are a witness to the world.
When else during the year do you get to boldly proclaim your faith without worrying about what others think of you. If you go around in July singing, “Jesus loves me” your co-workers and schoolmates may think you are a little nuts, but go around anytime of year and sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and they think you are just in the Christmas Spirit.

So this year, it may take some work to celebrate the birth of our Lord, but it’s worth the effort.

Many laughed to see this alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them. His own heart laughed and that was quite enough for him. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge.

Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23