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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Focus on Christmas

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[December 18, 2008]   -- "And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn."-Luke 2: 7

CivicTell me if this sounds familiar to you.  As Christmas approaches these are the things I have been focused on:  1) Decorating the house (check).  2)  Christmas Cards (not done yet, not optimistic).  3)  Preparations for the arrival of family on Monday (house is cleaned but 3yr. old and 1yr. old likely to inflict extensive damage before Monday, things not looking good).  4)  Purchasing gifts (check, started early this year).  5.  Food:  how much, what, etc… (we are completely out of milk at the moment, enough said).

For many of us, the Christmas season has become one long, stressful, checklist.  We have family to greet, meals to cook, presents to buy, traditions to uphold.  To do these we spend a disproportionate amount of our time and money.  But to what end?  All of those things are important, family, celebrations, gift-giving, but do we remember their purpose?  Do we remind ourselves, as we run hither and yon, that we do these things to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? 

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So today, in a very short devotional, I am not going to tell you that you should not buy gifts, nor am I going to suggest eating out more or ignoring family and tradition.  Rather I am going to remind you to remember the great gift of faith that you have in your life as you do these things.  Remember that the gifts you give commemorate the gift you have received in Jesus Christ.  Remind yourself that the decorations are intended to celebrate his birth and the arrival and welcoming of family contrasts with the rejection of Mary and Joseph on that fateful night. Christmas can be a magical time of year and it can be a time that renews and revitalizes our faith.  All we have to do is get out of our own way.
Prayer:  Holy God, thank you for coming into this world and coming into my life.  Help me this week to remember you and all that you have done for me.  Please give me the patience to love my family extravagantly and to remember to love myself.  I pray in Jesus' name.  Amen

[Text from file received from Phil Blackburn, First Presbyterian Church]


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