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Christmas and the Faith of Mary

 
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Luke 1:38, NLT
 

Christmas and the Faith of Mary

 

Mary_Statue_Photo_by_Allison_K_FlexerEach Christmas, I find myself thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. When I was 15, I played the part of Mary in a Christmas play at our church. Since then, I’ve always loved reading her story in the first chapter Luke and thinking about her life.

In recent years, my admiration for Mary has grown as I ponder her response to the angel of the Lord and the greatness of her faith. Mary must have been scared when an angel appeared and told her she would give birth to a son. And not just any son, but “the Son of the Most High.” I often wonder if she thought, “No one is ever going to believe this story!”

As shocked and confused as she must have been in that moment, Mary made a choice to say yes to God. In complete faith, she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Mary believed and accepted the Lord’s plan. Thank goodness she was so brave and faithful. Mary was a crucial part of God’s plan.

What about you? God has a purpose for your life and designed a journey that only you can fulfill for His Kingdom. I’m not suggesting an angel will show up and reveal that path to you in person. In a way, that would be nice, right? As we draw close to God, he reveals the next steps to us. He nudges us in the right direction if we keep our eyes on Him.

Will we say yes to God like Mary did so many years ago?

In Luke 1:45, Mary’s relative Elizabeth confirms Mary’s great faith. Elizabeth told Mary, “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

This Christmas, I want to have that kind of faith. I want to trust in the Lord and believe He will do what He has said. As we prepare our hearts for this Christmas season, I challenge each of us to look at Mary’s story with fresh eyes and ask God to give us a Mary-like faith.

Joyfully celebrating the birth of our Savior,

Allison

The Remaining Gift

 
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 
2 Corinthians 9:15, NIV
 

The Remaining Gift

 

409585_10150450806694952_759081474_nAn unassuming red box with a stick-on silver bow maintains its lonely vigil beneath our Christmas tree. The box is a gift our eldest daughter brought to us several years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Oddly enough, it was empty then and is empty now. Its significant place beneath our tree has since become a holiday tradition.

On Christmas Day as family members gather, each of us will place a small object of remembrance and thanksgiving into the box. Later, after an extraordinary dinner, we will sit around a beautifully lit tree, open the box one by one, take out the article we’ve put in, and share our thoughts concerning it. What follows is not only remarkable―it’s priceless.

Cherished memories spill forth, accompanied by gratitude, laughter, and an occasional tear while the spirit of Christmases past and present wondrously fill the room, our hearts, and our lives. Those who have passed on take their rightful place within our family circle once again in almost tangible presence, reminding us that they live on beneath everything we do and all that we are.

Today, the red box, opened numerous times at several Christmas family gatherings, appears no worse for wear, and its profound impact on our family lingers. The God-given gift of family is a circle that can never be broken—a gift that will always remain. And just as the impact of the little red box will maintain a prominent place within our lives long after the sparkle of Christmas has passed, so the spirits of those we love will continue to flicker forever within our hearts.

Perhaps this Christmas, you too will choose to place an ordinary, empty box beneath your tree. You’ll be astonished at how full it can be when the true Spirit of Christmas fills it with His love and pours its contents upon your hearts and lives.

His outpouring is truly an indescribable gift―one that will always remain.

Merry Christmas!

Starr

DIRTY SANTA

 
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:2
 

DIRTY SANTA

 

crystal_crossAll eyes in the tightly packed game room gazed intently at the heap of brightly wrapped Christmas gifts in the middle of the floor. In the background, Christmas tree lights twinkled as the aroma of chocolate chip cookies and hot wassail hung in the air. All 40 of us waited patiently for our turns to choose any gift we wanted from the treasure heap.

Anticipation mounted as the first person opened his chosen treasure. “Oh boy,” he shouted. “A tackle box!”

There was only one problem with getting such a highly sought after gift. The game of Dirty Santa allows the next person to choose a gift from the unopened pile or from any of the gifts already opened, taking it away from the one who held it. If your gift is confiscated, you can then choose again from the pile or from all the opened gifts.

Clearing his throat, number five stood for his turn, speaking crisply. “I’ll take the tackle box, please!” Shouts of laughter ensued as a loud groan escaped the lips of number four. Choosing again, number four opened a beautiful crystal cross, generating oohs and ahhs all around the room.

All of us opened gifts and jockeyed for position to obtain the greatest treasures in the room. Gifts like the tackle box were confiscated all three of the allowed times before finding a permanent home. Each time a person stood to choose a gift, the owner of the crystal cross held out his treasure offering it to anyone who would take it.

“No thank you, I’ll pass on that,” said one after the other. “Are you sure?” said its owner.  “Come on, I want that 20 quart cooler to take fishing!” Hoots of laughter echoed around the room as he whined, “Anyone else want this? Going once, going twice …”

As I sat there watching the crystal cross face rejection time after time, I couldn’t stand it anymore. “I want it!” I shouted. Silence filled the room as every eye turned to see why I was shouting. After all, it was just a game and everybody was having fun. No one meant anything by it.

But all I could think about was what that cross represented.

Christ purposefully left the grandeur of heaven to come to this violent sick earth, all because He loves us so much. Coming here represented how dedicated He was, and still is, to our rescue.

Jesus gladly sends His message of peace and goodwill to you on His birthday again this year! I pray you’ll take advantage of it and accept His cross as your most valuable Christmas present ever! As we play our games and enjoy the most beautiful time of the year, I pray we’ll all be careful to remember and respect the sacrifice it took to bring the blessings of Christmas.

Merry Christmas friends! I pray the Lord’s richest blessings upon you!

Until 2015,

Your Traveling Partner,

Brenda