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December 2021

Dec. 18

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Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
by Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Dec. 17


Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly?
Whoever finally lays down all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all arrogance, all individualism beside the manger; whoever remains lowly and lets God alone be high; whoever looks at the child in the manger and sees the glory of God precisely in his lowliness.                                                 — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dec. 16


After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” … Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. (Matthew 2: 13, 16, NLT)

Yes, Christmas is the glow of candlelight, and a baby sleeping in a manger. It is starlight, shepherds in a field. But Christmas is also an invasion. The Kingdom of God striking at the heart of the kingdom of darkness with violent repercussions. And victory. — John Eldredge

Dec. 14


On the Adoration of the Shepherds
by David Brendan Hopes

God is born tonight in the next town.
Be serious. Who wouldn’t go?
Lock the back door. Turn the furnace down.
Throw a handful of food at the dog. Blow
off the dinner with the couple you really like.
Riffle through the bills for those
which absolutely will not wait. Take a hike.
The way? The consequence? The point? Who knows?
Select a path, an avenue, goat trail, a turnpike,
on through the twilight and the early snows.
Angel voices are, of course, a plus,
but go in dark and silence if you must.
Remember to seek the narrowest wretched door.
Prepare to diminish, resign, dispense, adore.


*from Adam, Eve & the Riders of the Apocalypse, Ed. D.S. Martin, p. 84

The Haunted Knocker

IMG_1582The Haunted Knocker
by Ryan M. Roberts

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5, NIV)

Yesterday I finished reading A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. This is the fifth December in a row that I have read this great book. And every time I read it, I discover a new gem in the story and I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me through its pages.

In the book’s preface Dickens writes,

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.”

My annual reading of “this Ghostly little book” left me with yet another hauntingly pleasant reflection. So, from my house to yours, I humbly and prayerfully share it with you.

At the end of A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge awakes from his long night of ghostly visitations and realizes the gift of a second chance. He is filled with the joy, hope and love that permeates the message of Christmas, and as he walks out of his house into his “new life,” the knocker on his front door catches his eye. This “haunted” knocker is where his entire nightmare started, beginning with the apparition of his old partner, Marley (“dead these seven years”) bearing chains of woe and warning, and then followed by the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas yet to come.

Scrooge’s night spent with these “spirits” was a gauntlet of fear, shock, struggle, insight, remorse, regret, and ultimately . . . rebirth. He emerged from the dark night of his heart, the tomb of his home and the prison of his self-centeredness a new man. He stepped out into the light and life of Christmas morning changed for good.

As Scrooge walks out of his house Dickens writes,

“. . . the knocker caught his eye. “I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand.”

I read these lines and tears sprang to my eyes, for I knew what Scrooge was feeling.

God is greater than evil. He can and does work through the struggle, pain, failure, grief and remorse in our lives, and He brings from it good. The “rest of the story” of Christmas is the truth that nothing can stop God, not even death. The baby Jesus, born in a manger is also the resurrection and the life!

Two years ago I was seriously ill. I was struggling in my heart and mind, sick in body and fighting for my life. The doctors were stumped, I was drowning in disappointment and losing the battle. But, by God’s grace and mercy I was miraculously helped and healed.

As I look back on that “haunted door-knocker” experience in my life—that season of fear, pain, struggle, doubt and darkness—I can see God’s hand of help, faithfulness and love in and through it all. God used it for good and drew my heart closer to Him. In retrospect, I see the light of Jesus piercing the darkness of that difficult time, and I, along with Ebenezer Scrooge proclaim, “I shall love it, as long as I live!”

Life is hard and full of troubles. I don’t understand it all, but I do know that God is ever working in and through all things for good. He is the source of help, hope, life and love—and at the center of it all is Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, thanks to Charles Dickens and the Holy Spirit, I am “haunted” by the goodness of God. May you be “haunted” by the goodness of God too.

P.S. Speaking of door knockers, consider this from Jesus, the true Spirit of Christmas: He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20, NIV)

Merry Christmas!

Dec. 9


This Tree
by Ryan M. Roberts

This is a picture of our Christmas tree,
and it may be, that it means nothing to you,
But to me . . .

It was adorned by hands that I love, love, love,
and is topped by a star of promise from above.

The ornaments that fill the branches and boughs,
hold stories that range from then until now.

They are memories of God’s faithful hand in our lives,
that tell of His goodness and keep Hope alive.

The lights that shine brightly into the night,
remind us it's time for joy and delight.

The wondrous sight of our Christmas tree,
calls to mind words the angel said unto me,

"This day is born a Savior—Jesus your Lord,
who paid a price for you, that none could afford."

So, when I look at our tree, I see Jesus in all,
I hear “Come unto me” and harken His call.

This is a picture of our Christmas tree,
And it may be, that it means nothing to you,
But to me . . .