Christmas – They Think It’s All Over. But It’s Not…

For most people Christmas ended at 11:59pm on the 25th December. For some it ended the moment all the presents where opened, and the excitement and expectation of Christmas morning had subsided. All was left was the 11 months left until the next Christmas. Of course, Christmas is not longer the time when you receive the one special item you have waited 6 months or more for. We tend to buy what we want during the year and then just get MORE stuff on Christmas.

Even for Christians, Christmas is now over. Yet, we forget that Christmas Day is not the end of the Christmas season but the beginning!! It should be the start of 12 days of feasting and celebration of the incarnation of God!! How many of us are still celebrating and rejoicing on the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th of December? We are NOW, on the 26th December, entering the joyous, wonderful Christmas season. That is what I like about the Church season; Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter. We get to celebrate, to fast and to feast, to meditate on God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the work of God in the world.

No, Christmas has just begun – let’s get celebrating!!

Christmas Day and Happy Birthday Jesus Church Service!

A member of our church asked if we might do a Christmas Day service at her house this year. We decided to do a Happy Birthday Jesus service. It was an informal time of worship…yes, with a cake!! It was loads of fun. And afterwards, the children played in the yard sliding down the hill on boxes. What a fun day!

A Christmas Day Devotional

The Bible says: “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come…. the Holy Spirit …..had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace…I have seen your salvation’” (Luke 2:325-34). The story of Simeon teaches us three important truths: (1) No matter how long it takes, if you seek the Lord you find Him. Or better still, He will find you and reveal himself to you. (2) God, not you, chooses the time and the manner in which He will come to you. Simeon didn’t live to see Christ’s amazing three and a half years of ministry, he only saw a new born baby in Mary’s arms. But he saw God, and that was enough for him. (3) even though he was very devout Simeon realized that he was ready to die only when he met the Lord and embraced Him. Some of us don’t want to die until we’ve seen the world; Simeon didn’t want to die until he had seen the redeemer of the world. So the question you must answer is – have you met the Lord? Is He your personal Saviour? Only when you have the right answer, are you ready to die.

A Christmas Eve Homily

In England, the famous and the wealthy would always put important announcements into the London Times, because the right people would read about it. Ironically, you knew you had arrived if your Obituary was in the Times, but then you were unable to enjoy the accolades or status.

I wonder what you would do if you had a very important announcement to make? To whom would you make the announcement? Where would you make the announcement?

The most important announcement that has EVER been made, in the whole history of Humanity, was made in the most glorious way to foreigners and complete strangers and to the most inglorious people possible.
Is it not amazing that the first people to be seeking out the saviour of the world were Persian tourists – strangers – foreigners? They had known that something remarkable was going to happen for quite a while. The journey they took was probably 1000 miles – and probably with a huge camel caravan they traveled, on a good day, 12 miles. Therefore their journey alone may have taken anything from 80-100 days – 2.5 – 3.5 months for them to traveled to Jerusalem. Why undertake such a journey? Who were these wise men?

Of course the Bible does not tell us HOW many wise men there were. We infer three because of the gifts. Also, we often imagine these wise men as magicians, or astrologers, or philosophers. But what if they were actually believers in Yahweh, believers in the God of Israel and what if their presence was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?

These wise men’s technical name was Magi. And if you remember, Yahweh blessed powerful a man who was the head of the Magi – Daniel. Daniel was a man who received remarkable prophecies about the future coming of Jesus Christ, and when he was made the head of the Magi, under both Babylon and Persian rulers, Dan 2:48 – Then the king elevated Daniel to high position and bestowed on him many marvelous gifts. He granted him authority over the entire province of Babylon and made him the main prefect over all the wise men of Babylon..

There is no doubt that Daniel would have trained many in the understanding of the Messiah and of his coming. He would left the Magi the prophecies which were in Scripture. We know this because the wise men say “We have seen his Star in the East”. Why is this so important – Numbers 24:17 says A Star will come from Jacob and a scepter will arise from Israel. They knew this prophecy.

In the wise men God was showing that Daniel’s prophecies about the Messiah was completely true and he shows this by sending a delegation from Persia. The Wise men knew who Jesus was – they bowed down and WORSHIPPED him.

The second group of people that hear the news of the Saviour’s birth are Shepherds. Shepherds were despised by the religious leaders and by the culture generally. They were seen as dirty, hermit like, and lawbreakers. Because they spent weeks and months in the fields they could not follow the strict rule of the law or attend the festivals and worship at the temple. So despised were they that their testimony was regarded as invalid in a court of law.

God announces the birth of the Saviour of the World to these despised and ignored group of people. Why?

1. This baby was to be the ultimate shepherd – just as the metaphor stands for tending his flock and for leading his sheep, it is also a metaphor that he, just like these shepherds, would one day be regarded as a lawbreaker and be despised and rejected.
2. This baby’s ministry was going to be to the poor and ill, the despised and rejected.

Notice what the Angel says to the shepherds – not that a saviour who is Messiah was born in the city of David – but that a savior who is Messiah the Lord was born FOR YOU in the city of David. It is for YOU that Jesus was born!!

And then, the heavenly host appears praising God. The Heavenly Host NEVER appeared before, or again, in such a way in Scripture. This is a one off. Those Shepherds experienced something no human being had ever experienced or since – the Angels of Heaven excitedly praising God because the time had come for the Saviour of the world to be born.

The first to know and to acknowledge and to worship Jesus were foreigners and the despised.

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth let us remember that who we are in the world’s eyes, what we are in the world’s eyes is irrelevant. Both the foreign wise men and the shepherds had no status in Israel, or in the eyes of the religious people – but in God’s eyes they were important – so important as to be in the very center of the proclamation of Jesus’ coming!

They sought out Jesus and they worshipped Him.

Christ Has Come. He has come for US. He has come for you and he has come for me. No matter what is in your past. What you have done in the present. No matter what you think your future looks like – It is for you Jesus was born. Come to Him. Give yourself to Him this Christmas.

Christmas Eve at Christ the Saviour Anglican Church

Being a church plant and meeting in a School, we have only one Christmas Eve service. We had a GREAT time – wonderful worship, lots of fun and fellowship. Here are some pics of the Pageant rehearsal before the service. Sorry about the smudge on the camera lens!!

A Comfortable Christian?

My mentor often quotes Bill Bright – The curse of the Christian is the comfortable (this is my paraphrase!). It is astounding to me that ministers think they deserve ‘things’ as if it is a right – such as a Christmas bonus, or more commonly a raise. It often made me sick to the stomach to hear colleagues complain that they have not had a raise in salary. And I even had one person tell me not to take a ministry job because I was not paid enough!! Francis Chan nails it when he says:

God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.

Two books which impacted me in 2011 were Crazy Love by Chan and Radical by David Platt. I regularly re-read these books or least sections to remind myself of their perspective and their view of God from the scriptures.

American pastors need to shake themselves free of the curse of the comfortable – to stop seeing good salaries, good benefits, nice houses, good pensions, generous bonuses as an entitlement. To get to that point means you are really ineffective for the gospel because you will not go wherever God sends you – you will go wherever it is comfortable.

I am Having Lunch With A Parishioner Tomorrow…

…and in trying to find his office address i came across his bio. I knew he was a kinda journalist, but……

….Pete Winn joined in October of 2007 as a staff writer/investigative reporter. For nearly 20 years, he has reported on key legal, cultural, political, scientific and religious topics at the national level for online, magazine, radio/TV and print publications. His work has been quoted by, or appeared in, The Washington Times, ABC News, AP, UPI, MSNBC and The New York Times, as well as in local newspapers and on radio stations around the country.

Prior to joining, Pete was the associate editor and co-creator of CitizenLink, a daily public-policy and government-issues e-newsletter/Web site produced by the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family. For seven years, he served as head writer and substitute host for Family News in Focus, an internationally syndicated radio news-and-issues program heard on more than 1,400 stations in the U.S. and Canada.

With experience as a radio news director in both commercial and public radio, Pete is a former voting member of the Radio-Television News Directors Association of America (RTNDA). He also served as an editor for Politico: a Journal of Contemporary Concerns. He holds a B.A. degree in Politics & Government and Philosophy from Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.