Christmas

Angels of Christmas – The Message to Mary

Angels of Christmas – The Message to Mary

Christmas, Encouragment
This Christmas season my thoughts are on the angels. Those messengers from God who brought the various announcements in the Christmas story. Last week we looked at the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah and God’s answer to prayer. This week we consider Gabriel’s announcement to a teen-aged girl living in the obscure Galilean village of Nazareth. The record of Gabriel’s announcement is found in Luke 1:26-38. Six months or so after Zechariah's encounter Gabriel is once again sent by God with an important message. We can wonder many things about why God choose Mary to bear Jesus. For a moment, let’s strip away some of the tradition and some of our modern ideas concerning Mary. In many ways, Mary’s world was far different than our own and yet also very similar. Mary could have b
Angels of Christmas – The Message to Zechariah

Angels of Christmas – The Message to Zechariah

Christmas, Encouragment
This advent season my thoughts are on the angels in the Christmas story. In the Old Testament books, we see a smattering of angelic visits and even fewer after Jesus’s resurrection. But in the Christmas story, angels are everywhere. Angels appeared to Zechariah to foretell the birth of John the Baptist, to Mary and Joseph, to the shepherds, and to the magi. In some of these instances, their appearance was real, in others as a dream. In every instance, they proclaimed a message from God. This flurry of noticeable angelic activity highlights the momentous event of Christ’s birth. The first time an angel appeared in relation to Christ’s incarnation is often overlooked. Well over a year prior to the events of Bethlehem an angel appeared to Zechariah. The story is recounted in Luke 1:5-
Colors of Christmas – Gold

Colors of Christmas – Gold

Christmas, Encouragment
Our final Color of Christmas is gold and its symbolism of value. We may not be paid in gold or use gold at the local store, but the idea of value remains regardless of the currency. We exchange something we have such as time, ability, and expertise for something of value which can then be exchanged for something desired. However, this activity of commerce and exchange is not the meaning of Christmas gold. For that, we must return to the story. Matthew records the journey of the magi and their search for a newborn king. Put aside for this article when they encountered Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in relation to the other events associated with Christmas. Matthew’s point is that in Israel, the Jewish homeland, foreigners with a strange language and religion recognized Jesus as king. Everyone e
Christmas Kisses

Christmas Kisses

Christmas, Encouragment
I haven’t realized until recently the uniqueness of my childhood Christmases. My family wasn’t large but long. When I was a child, there were five living generations including four grandparents, six great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandmother. Seven of them lived within a few miles of each other. The others were less than thirty minutes away. Beginning noon Christmas Eve and culminating Christmas evening we would visit every one of them. Sure, there were presents, I remember a few of them, but what I remember most are the wet grandma kisses. Our day began at noon with a customer appreciation meal at Wuethrich Oil in Eureka. Grandpa Kindred, Mom’s dad, worked there as an alignment specialist. Every year they would clean up the garage and offer hot ham sandwiches for all that
The Colors of Christmas – Green

The Colors of Christmas – Green

Christmas, Encouragment
From where I sit it is both strange and understandable that green is a prominent color of Christmas. In one sense there’s very little green to be seen. Unlike spring that is filled with a variety of vibrant greens, winter in central Illinois is brown until the snow flies. Trees have shed their green leaves, The crops that color our fields have been harvested, frost has beaten back our perennials and killed off our annual decorative plants. The grassy carpets of our yards have gone dormant. The only green to see are the evergreens of pine, balsam, and spruce. Some of these may even take the form of a Christmas tree. But, if you have been following our Colors of Christmas series you may have guessed that there is also a deeper meaning to this color as well. To connect the dots we must tu
The Colors of Christmas – Red

The Colors of Christmas – Red

Christmas, Encouragment
Red seems to be everywhere when Christmas comes around. It is the most common color for Santa’s suit thanks to Coca-Cola. Red balls, bows, and lights hang on many Christmas trees. Peppermint canes are stripped with red. Even nature joins in as deep green holly sports its red fruit. Is there a deeper meaning here or is it a marketing ploy designed to capture our attention like Rudolf’s bright red nose? There is a special significance to the color red in relation to Christmas but it may not be comfortable to talk about. It is said there is a red or scarlet thread of redemption running throughout the entire Bible. From the animals sacrificed to provide skin covers for Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit and God’s promise to send a messiah. Through the animal sacrifices offered
Colors of Christmas – Silver

Colors of Christmas – Silver

Christmas, Encouragment
What exactly is the color of silver? Except for some nuance of shading, silver shares its color with chrome and stainless steel. It is easily mimicked by tinsel. (Does anyone use tinsel on their Christmas trees anymore?) It is the color of some coins whether silver, nickel or some amalgam of metals combined to achieve the right silvery look. Silver’s color is also seen in the flashes of a mountain stream on a sunny day and glimmers in an icicle. You could say that the color of silver is that of pure light. The Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life
Danny’s Firetruck 2017

Danny’s Firetruck 2017

Christmas, Short Stories
During this Christmas season, I'll be republishing many of the Christmas short stories I've written over the years. Danny's Firetruck was written many years ago but re-edited for publication this year.  - Dale Six-year-old Ben was the first to wake up that Christmas morning. He took a look to see if it was light out yet. Mom had been explicit last night, they couldn’t get up until the sun was. “It must be light out,” he thought, squinting to make out Winnie the Pooh watching from the dresser. Deciding it was ok he jumped out of his bed. "Danny wake up! It's Christmas,” he said while giving his three-year-old brother a shake. In a few moments, Ben’s excitement registered with Danny and he was out of his bed in a flash. Both boys sprinted down the hallway and burst into their parent’s
The Colors of Christmas – Blue

The Colors of Christmas – Blue

Christmas, Encouragment
Christmas is a color-filled season. The landscape has changed from the vibrant red, yellow, and orange of fall to the stark greys and browns of early winter. The hours of daylight grows less and less as we inch towards the new year and the deep freeze of January. But just before things become too bleak we celebrate Christmas with the bright colors of green, red, silver, and gold. Homes are decorated with light. Evergreen trees are hung with memories. Traditions are brought out of the attic and scattered around the house. Garlands of ribbon and pine grace doorways and windows. Before we explore the colors of red, green, gold, and silver we must recognize one other color of the season - blue. For some blue is symbolic of winter, frost, and snow. Some Christian traditions see blue as a...
Christmas: Affirmation

Christmas: Affirmation

Christmas, Encouragment
Our view of Chrismas and the events at Bethlehem are often more like a snapshot instead of the slow unfolding of what really happened. We cram and compress events that occurred over several years into one day, one moment in time.  Several years ago Hollywood set out to make a realistic film about Christmas. They included the community discomfort and anger over Mary’s pregnancy, the difficult decision of Joseph, the long and perilous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They followed Luke’s narrative about the shepherds. But then departed from their attempt at historical accuracy and had the Magi arrive at the stable so they could end with a Christmas card scene of the nativity. Welcome to our fifth and final Advent article for 2016. Over the past month, we’ve looked forward to the Christ
A Pearl of Forgiveness

A Pearl of Forgiveness

Christmas, Short Stories
Pearl lives on the south edge of town in a sprawling two room bungalow. Well, it seems sprawling to me because it’s more than what I have which is whatever open bed I can find at one of the downtown shelters. But this story isn’t about me. Pearl and I became friends back in High School. We were never lovers or anything like that, just friends. Through war, college, weddings, careers, and failures we managed to keep track of each other. Now we’re old and alone. The one thing you need to know about Pearl is she is steady, her life is ordered and as predictable as she can make it. I’m part of that order I suppose although I share none of her desire to keep certain ducks in their place.  On Thursdays, never on any other day, Pearl picks me up in her old Buick. I do whatever handyman kind
Christmas: Jubilation

Christmas: Jubilation

Christmas, Encouragment
For many folks, Christmas season is not a joyous time. The stress of buying the “right” gift causes frustration. The bickering and arguing over the scheduling nightmare of getting everyone together causes headaches and heartaches. Relationship issues may strain the holiday as old wounds are revisited and reopened. Some are just plain blue because of loved ones lost, there is a hole at the table as well as a hole in their heart. Joy and jubilation may seem to be impossible. Yet, the Christmas story invokes and invites jubilation and joy. Welcome to our fourth Advent article. We have so far looked the declaration of the angels, the mystery of the incarnation, and the immediate response of adoration. This week we look at jubilation in the worship of the angels and the shepherds. Luke re