I remember when we first dreamed of what God might have us do. It began with a vision in my prayer loft of a single candle entering in the dark carried by a dancer dressed in white to the music of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel. " In my mind there were lights everywhere and beautiful star/cross panels.
And then we would tell the story of His coming. We would sing about His light, proclaim the Scriptures from Genesis - Revelation - the thread of the Messiah, the Light of the World coming for you and for me. We would invite musicians and actors to join us who have ministered with us through the years. And we brainstormed and prayed with our team and searched for music, and a place to present our offering as drama and narrations were written. We invited the community and they came! It was a beautiful and glorious evening. A heart warming testimony of God’s faithfulness and His heart of love. It was truly an outpouring of grace. There were lots of challenges and battles, but there was more prayer to overcome them.
That first rehearsal when 50 people gathered in my living room and the sound filled our home, I knew God had much more in mind than we had ever imagined. As our hearts and voices joined together, exalting the name of Jesus was our focus and desire. And there were sweet reunions of old friends and new friendships formed, healing and beauty, perseverance and hope. On December 12th, the people came and they joined their hearts and voices with us to honor the King of Kings and I wept for the joy of it. Over 80 participants from 15 different churches joining with 400 worshipers! Glory to God!!!
As I walked into the house after the event, I’m astonished at the lack of attention in my own home. It’s basically a disaster area! There is the advent wreath on the only table that is cleared off, and then there is mess everywhere. I mean everywhere! There are still pumpkins at my front door and the Christmas tree, which we did manage to buy, is still sitting outside! There just weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
And so now it’s time. The kids and grand baby are arriving soon and I’m sending Ken into the attic to pull out the tubs of garlands and ornaments and wreaths. As I uncover the manger scenes from the boxes, my mind goes back to the story again. I have two manger scenes that I set out each year. One is white marble. It's beautiful and I love it because my mom gave it to me. It’s similar to the one she always put out when I was growing up. I always surround it with little white lights.
As I set them in their places, my mind goes back once more to the story. That’s why we put manger scenes in our homes. Of course, they are nothing like the reality of what really happened. The filth of a stable, the awestruck mother and father, the shepherds, angels, and wise men all had their part in the story. The hard pieces of my manger scenes made of marble and wood represent real people whom God chose to weave into the story of His coming. They serve simply as a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.
As we prepare our homes and our hearts for the celebration of Christmas this week, travel with me once more to the manger and let’s take a look at the ones who came to be part of the story over 2000 years ago. Let’s revisit the Scriptures from Luke 1 and 2 and the drama that unfolded.
In the process ask the Lord to show you how you fit into the story. Jesus was born for you. Try to picture yourself in the scene. Enter the story. Imagine the sights, the smells, the sounds, the wonder of it all!
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee to a virgin named Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored: The Lord is with you.' Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid Mary, You have found favor with God. You will be with Child and give birth to a son and you are to give Him the name, Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel,” since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you. So the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God'.” Luke 1:26-32
In obedience, Mary and Joseph trusted God and surrendered their lives to His calling.
“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. Everyone went to his own town to register. So Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, the town of David.
While they were there, the time came for the Baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7
He came down from the throne of heaven for you.
This little Child would change the world forever.
His name is Jesus,
the Light that ends our darkness,
the Love where hope begins.
Emmanuel, Heaven’s Child came in the most unexpected way as a helpless Baby Boy on that miraculous night.
A lowly band of Shepherds were the first to hear of his coming. While they watched their flocks in fields nearby, “an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. 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 among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:9-14
There, they found majesty in the midst of the mundane,
holiness, in the filth of a stable.
At last, the Savior, the long awaited Messiah had come.
The shepherds left the stable that night and “told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” Luke 2:20 They beheld His glory and their hearts were burning with the news.
Jesus chose to come close, to be with us, to be with you wherever you are....so that you are never alone.
In those places where you feel rejected, broken, small, or unworthy ...
your life can be touched by this God- Child
It is a great mystery that the love and glory of God in the highest heavens would come down to our depths and choose to wrap Himself in human flesh. Grace was laid in a manger that night. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled.
“ For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. “ Isaiah 9:6
The very One whose fingers had created the stars and celestial wonders of the world, now reached out a tiny finger to grab hold of His young mother’s hand.
Come, kneel close. His grace will meet you there.
God waits for you to draw close to this love that saves and offers hope.
Close....to this light of life that will shatter all of your darkness.
The prophet Isaiah said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2
The coming of the promised Messiah went unnoticed by most of the world that He came to save,
but for those who had ears to hear and eyes to see it was a night of wonder, glory, hope, and transformation.
Magi, wise men from the East saw the Bethlehem star, a celestial marker placed in the heavens by the hand of the Creator. They were seekers of truth and were compelled to follow the brilliance of God’s light to worship the child. They came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews: We saw His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When they found Jesus they laid their most precious gifts before Him...gold, frankincense and myrrh...and bowed down and worshiped. Matthew 2
The wise men came and worshiped. They laid down their most precious gifts to the Greatest Gift Giver of all.
And you can choose to unwrap God’s gift of love and grace this year.
Take some time this Christmas week to pause and reflect on the wonder and mystery of the incarnation of Christ,
the long awaited Messiah for God’s people.
The story was written for you, given to you.
Let us respond with the shepherds and wise men in worship and praise.
Like the lowly shepherds you can come just as you are to worship the King of Kings.
This Christmas, seek His light and respond with a heart that cannot help but rejoice and join the angels in songs of adoration.
O Come Let us Adore Him!
For He Alone is Worthy!
The Christmas story is not just for angels, shepherds or wise men of long ago. The light and love of Christmas found in the Savior is not just a celebration once a year.
Christmas is an enduring love story for every soul in need of hope. Jesus comes near every moment of every day..waiting... that we would come near and behold Him.
This is our God...
reaching out to you and to me, sacrificing His Son on the cross for our sins that we might have
life and light to live.
"For unto us a Child is Born, unto us a Son is given.”
He is God’s Son.
He is the sinner’s Savior.
He is the Breath of Life.
He supplies strength to the weary
Hope to the hopeless.
He delivers the captives.
He gives light to our darkness,
Comfort in our loneliness,
Life to the lifeless.
He forgives and He forgets.
He creates and He cleanses.
He restores and He rebuilds.
He heals and He helps.
He reconciles and He redeems.
He comforts and He carries.
He lifts and He loves
He had no predecessor and He will have no successor.
He is the Lion and He is the Lamb.
He is God and He is Man.
He is the seven-way King:
He is the King of the Jews...
That’s a racial King.
He is the King of Israel...
That’s a national King.
He is the King of righteousness...
That’s a moral King.
He is the King of the ages...
That’s an eternal King.
He is the King of Heaven...
That’s a universal King.
He is the King of glory...
That’s a celestial King.
HE IS THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS!
Gracious Father, Holy God...Thank you that You have invited us to enter into the powerful story of Your Son who came to save us, redeem us and restore us. Thank you for pursuing us with a love that will never fail. May the Light of and Love of Jesus burn brightly forever in our hearts and our lives so that we become a reflection of your beloved Son, Jesus in our dark and needy world.
May you have a blessed Christmas celebrating the story and the gift of Jesus!
Resources: Images Pinterest, the Nativity Story, L, Mixon and personal photos,
This is our Jesus, writing compiled from Anne Graham Lotz, Just Give Me Jesus