Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, and Love

How would you describe Christmas in two words? It’s not easy! It’s a question to which there is no one correct answer, I think, but a question worth pondering all the same.

Our secular world might answer Santa Claus, but they may not know his true beginnings as an actual bishop some 250 years after Christ. Yes, St. Nicholas (which morphed into the name Santa Claus) loved Jesus and loved children. When he came into a significant inheritance from his deceased parents, he found his greatest joy in giving small bags of coins to the poor, often silently depositing them in stockings or shoes drying beside a fireside. And can you guess a bishop’s attire for those cold, old winters in present-day Turkey? You guessed it! A red robe and hat, both lined with warm, white fur.

Many might sum up Christmas with “Christmas tree”. We must thank St. Boniface, an Anglo-Saxon missionary called by his love of Christ to the northern Germanic people in the 4th century. When he came upon their “Holy Oak of Thor” which these people worshipped, he seized the moment, seized an axe, and chopped down that tree—all to make a visual point about the supremacy of Christ. And it worked; they came to faith in Christ. Boniface then pointed to an evergreen tree, instructing the new believers to see its triangular shape as a diagram of the Trinity and pointing to heaven. Even more applicable, its EVER green nature was a visual reminder that Christ was EVER with them. And so it remains.

Two different men. Two different centuries. But there is a commonality there. Did you happen to notice their mutual and beautiful inspiration? Both were prompted by their love of Christ.

And that brings us to the true answer for what Christmas means: Jesus Christ.

May our love of Christ be the inspiration and impetus for all of our actions and attitudes this Christmas~whether addressing Christmas cards, wrangling our way through the department store to buy gifts, or patiently queuing up in the long lines at the grocery or post office. (Yours truly definitely needs a reminder of that attitude when wrestling with Christmas lights!) Our love of Christ is only made possible because of God’s love for us, made reality in the most beautiful and merciful gift we have ever received~Jesus Christ.

With love at Christmas to you, dear reader!

Advertisements

You are Loved!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve been hugged and showered with love today! Life here is cold but cozy, and our yearly Valentine tradition of making a heart-shaped pizza is in progress. Still, even if you haven’t had a stellar day, I want to send you a hug and remind you just how very much you are loved. Why, considering God’s great love for us, even red lights should remind us of roses!

Here are some loving wishes for you from me:

Roses

 

Chocolates

 

A Valentine Card

 

and a Song

“God So Loved” by Jaci Velasquez

Happy, Happy Valentine’s Day!

God, Slow Me Down!

Have you heard the song “A Future Not My Own” by Matt Maher? He is a favorite Christian musician of mine and the song is on his Saints and Sinners album. In the song, Maher asks God to slow him down, pleads with God to chase his heart of stone, describes love as “a long and narrow road,” and concedes that we see only the beginning, but God sees the end. Then he goes on to cry what we all echo–the need “for a future not my own.” You can click on the song title to hear the actual song in another window: “A Future Not My Own”

I listened to that cd yesterday and, again, today.

As it turned out, yesterday I needed a little slowing down myself. My husband and I were on-the-go from morning through evening, happily running errands and doing various acts of service. It was exhilarating–until it came time to sit still in a class that evening. God slowed me down! Then I realized, “I’m exhausted!” That class was a sweet peace and, overall, it was a full and rich gift of a day.

This morning, the thoughts in that song fit in beautifully with my Bible study. Several dear sisters in Christ and I are doing the Beth Moore Entrusted study on 2nd Timothy. It’s a blessing. In this morning’s study, we were instructed to read a passage in 1st Timothy. 1st Timothy 1:5, to be exact. (I don’t think I’d ever soaked in that single verse before, scurrying on instead to verse 12 and beyond. Here it is from the ESV:

 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

So, over and over from yesterday through today, from a cd selection to errands and activities to my Bible study, I was hearing about love.

Love is the long and narrow road–the path set before me by my Lord. (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24; Jeremiah 10:23)

♥ Love is the impetus, the driving force for all action. (John 3:16)

♥ Love is the result of a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1Timothy 1:5)

♥ Love is the inevitable reaction of knowing Christ. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

Now, I’m not sure where you are, dear reader, but I’m not on a dirt road in Ephesus. So what does that love look like–what could it look like–on the asphalt roads in my life?

As I thought about how love could be the aim of all we do, I suddenly realized that LOVE ~

not the . . .  eb52c020-c145-440c-8445-911f133c0096

  or the . . .  hershey-almond

 

~ was the energy that propelled me to do all the things God gave me opportunity to do.

♥ God’s love for me propelled Him to send Christ.

♥ Christ’s love for His Father and for us propelled Him to suffer on a cross.

♥ My love for God and Christ propels me to love them with all my heart, soul, and mind–and my neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22-:36-40)

Yes, as Maher’s song recites, “love is a long and narrow road.”

That road will undoubtedly include green pastures, dark valleys, desolate ravines, and mountaintops. What lies around the corner? Only God knows where our love for Him will take us–there’s that “future not our own”.

Yet through it all, isn’t it a deep peace and an uncontainable joy to know that God has set our path before us, that our times are in His hands? Metaphorically, our names are written on the palm of his hand. (Isaiah 49:16) We rest and sing under the shadow of His wing. (Psalm 57:1, 63:7) He is faithful to be with us, and every step is a step closer to being with Him forever. Then we’ll worship at the feet of the one who loved us so much that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life!

What love?!!

That’s something to sing about and to go about with in our heart~

And dear friend, here’s hoping God crosses our paths ♥