Thanks Be To God For His Inexpressible Gift!

Good morning. It is Thursday, December 25, 2014. Merry Christmas to all!

Today’s Word of the Day is “nativity.” (I’m not making this up, it really is the OED word of the day!) Nativity has multiple meanings. It is the feast of the birth of Jesus; more simply, it is the birth of Jesus. It is a work of art depicting the birth of Jesus. More archaically, it can mean the birth of anyone. It used to refer to a person’s birthday. It was also once used to refer to the creation or origin of something. I’ll stop there, as there are still more. You can check it out by clicking on the above link.

Decides being Christmas Day, today is also Pumpkin Pie Day. We still have some left from last night, I think, so I might have a piece. I’m not sure, though, because there is delicious Kahlua fudge that Christi made, plus I made these cookies!
chocolate-crinkles
They are also delicious. My mother is making dump cake, and has banana bread and fruitcake, as well. Heck, I may just skip lunch and go straight for dessert.

We had a pretty good Christmas Eve celebration last night. Everyone behaved well, there was lots of good food, and plenty of good conversation. Gifts were exchanged, and I believe everyone was happy. After Christ’s Mom and Don left, Rachel, Justin, and I sat around talking to John (Christi’s sister’s soon-to-be-husband) for at least an hour or two. I’m not sure what Christ and Karen were doing during that time. After they left, we all sat around for another hour or so, watching some strange You Tube videos (Nostalgia Critic and Cinema Snob), followed by an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Don’t judge me.

This morning, so far, only Christi and I are awake. I just heard a door, elsewhere in the house, so chances are, I will have to interrupt the blogging for Christmas morning gift-opening. Christi will be working on today’s lunch, in a little while, and we will pack it up and drive to Mineral Wells, probably aiming to arrive there between 1:00 and 2:00 PM.

Unfortunately, we must go back to work tomorrow, but just for one day, and it will be the weekend again.

(Source: Christian History Institute)

It was on this date in 1621 that the Puritans attempted to abolish Christmas. “Their objections were religious. Not only were there no grounds for believing Christ was born on December 25th, but the Bible had also not established the practice. Further, they objected that for many people, Christmas observance was a sacrilege; a time of heavy drinking and pagan customs. ” So, Christmas has not always been quite so popular, as it turns out.

“After the Puritans came to power in England, they began issuing laws against Christmas in 1642. In 1647 Parliament passed a law that the feast of the Nativity of Christ should be no longer observed. Some English folk protested through pamphlets, others by holding celebrations in defiance of the law, still others by refusing to open their shops. At Oxford, Ipswich, and Canterbury, people rioted. A mob beat the Mayor of Canterbury senseless, breaking his windows as well as his bones. Thousands vowed that if they could not have Christmas, they would bring the king back to his throne.”

I, personally, agree that there are no grounds for believing that Jesus was born on December 25. I have also noted that there is no Biblical command to observe or celebrate the birth of Christ, while there are such for commemorating his death and resurrection. Nevertheless, I have no problem with Christmas celebrations, and I have a strong suspicion that Jesus doesn’t mind, either, as long as we are celebrating for the right reasons. I daresay, he is none too pleased with the commercialism, nor the horrific scenes that American retailers have promoted on “Black Friday.”

Christmas birthdays include Jimmy Buffett, Humphrey Bogart, Clara Barton, Annie Lennox, Sissy Spacek, Dido, Rod Serling, Barbara Mandrell, Shane MacGowan, Cab Calloway, Robert Ripley, Louis Chevrolet, Rickey Henderson, Ron Foos, Conrad Hilton, Anwar Sadat, Mac Powell, Alannah Myles, Larry Csonka, Orlando Gibbons, Carlos Castaneda, Nellie Fox, Noel Redding, and The Veronicas (Lisa and Jessica Origliasso).

Wow! So many! Annie Lennox is a Scottish singer/songwriter who was part of the hit duo, The Eurythmics. (I just realized they spelled “rhythm” wrong in their name!) She has since had a successful solo career, as well as getting involved in political activism and philanthropy. For her Christmas birthday, here is her rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I really like her recording of this song.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 95:6-7
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
Psalm 101:6
If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John 5:31-36
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:13-22
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Purify my conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming, may find in me a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:6-7
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Today’s Gospel Reading

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
Matthew 21:28-32

This conversation is continued from the passage I read yesterday. In fact, the paragraph break seems to come in the middle of Jesus’s statement. It’s like he barely took a breath between saying, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things,” and “What do you think?”

In this passage, Jesus makes a very pointed comparison between the religious leaders and the son who said he would go work in his father’s vineyard, but then did not do what he said he would do. The one who first said he would not go, but later repented and went, is the one who did his father’s will. I cannot even imagine the anger that these leaders must have felt when Jesus told them that tax collectors and prostitutes would go into the kingdom before them!

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Kneeling in His Presence.”

“Is there anyone in our midst who pretends to understand the awesome love in the heart of the Abba of Jesus that inspired, motivated, and brought about Christmas?

“God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability, and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to him.”

“And this will be a sign for you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:12

Abba, Father, I praise you, this morning for entering our world as Jesus, in weakness and vulnerability. I praise you that you came in such a way that enabled us to know you. I thank you that your advent in this world confounded the religious leaders who would imprison us with man-made rules. Thank you for allowing us to get close to you, Jesus! I pray that, as we celebrate this Christmas morning, we will be all that much closer to you. May we spread the joy of the Christmas event as we go about our lives, today, tomorrow, and every day.

I pray for safe travel for all on this day, and for us as we travel to Mineral Wells later. I pray that our hearts will be drawn ever closer to you, and that our time with my parents will be a blessing to them, just as they have been a blessing to us, over the years. May your grace fill us all as we acknowledge the birth of your Son.

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

Grace and peace, friends.

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