Monday, December 23, 2013

A Different Kind of Christmas


A Different Christmas

I wanted it to be a nice Christmas, one to remember -- and it was. My parent’s house was bursting at the seams with family that year. How blessed it was, such a meaningful time. A wonderful celebration, and my oldest sister and brother-in-law’s thirtieth anniversary although a few days shy of December 25th. That year’s Christmas celebration had a different twist. This time our annual gift-giving exchange between the families did not happen—on purpose. It had been my sister’s idea to start with. 
  
“I was thinking, in light of Hurricane Katrina, maybe it would be good to do money donations this year instead of everyone buying gifts for each other,” my sister opened up a new dialogue during a phone conversation a few weeks before Christmas. “What do you think? Would you like to do that?

 “What are you proposing? How would you like to do it?” I asked, curious about her thinking. She responded that it would be nice to still include the gift exchange with the grandchildren and grandparents but it might be nice to donate to a favorite charity of Mother- and Dad’s or something else for the rest of us. She said she would talk to everyone first to find out what the consensus was. I said, “Sure, count me in!” 

I have to admit my first reaction on the gut level was one of disappointment. I have always enjoyed the way our family comes together with homemade and unique gifts, family to family, with lots of personal touches. I knew I would miss it. But quick on the heels of that thought was one of relief. Now I won’t have to search and search to find the right gifts! It’s a good thing I am not an early shopper! This will make Christmas easier! 

I find it interesting how our thoughts and desires evolve over time. As Christmas drew nearer and we decided to do the money-gifting as a whole family, I gave it more thought. I considered who I would choose to receive what I would give. I thought of a couple of families who I knew could use some help. It made me wonder how we would figure it out. With five families involved, it might be hard to work out in a way that would please everyone. 

The next time my sister from Oregon and I talked, she said that my sister and brother-in-law from Panama, who were in  the states for the year, had suggested someone who was in a very difficult place in her life. a person from their mission ministry in Panama. I told her that I had been thinking of someone else too, but probably the need was not as great. 

A decision was made that on Christmas Day all of us would have a round table discussion. Each could share what was on their heart at the time about who would be the recipient of our money gifting. What a nice way to handle this, I thought to myself. The Christmas was going to be extra special in other ways for both of my brother-in-law’s mothers were coming to California to join us, one from Idaho and the other from Montana. Maybe this type of gift exchange would make it more comfortable for them as well. 

After dinner on Christmas Day, we gathered round the antique mahogany dining room table. My brother’s family shared about a woman in their church who was struggling. Her husband had left her and money was tight. She could use a helping hand and especially the encouragement. I shared about two different needs: an older woman whose husband was in jail. Her funds were limited and the difficulty of her situation making it an emotional and financial hardship. I knew it would be a blessing to her. The other, a family new to my church, he, a recent convert recovering from substance abuse recently hospitalized for leukemia, active on our church worship team. I thought it might be an encouragement to them. My brother-in-law shared the woman from Panama’s story, she, a house keeper in Panama, had been diagnosed with a serious illness then received surgery. As a single parent, she cared for her daughters as best she could, a woman living in hardship with physical limitations but an abundance of living faith. All the suggestions were worthy. It would be hard to decide. I hoped all would receive donations. 
. . .
It was decided that we could donate to whomever we wished from the different needs. We would make contact with the person who had mentioned the request. As Christmas day progressed, different ones came to me to donate to the two suggestions I had mentioned. It touched me when one of the mother-in-law’s contributed to my suggestions. I hadn’t expected a guest to participate. I did the same with some of their requests. I found myself giving more than I would have spent if I had purchased gifts. I wanted each one of the suggested recipients to receive a generous amount. To the young woman whose husband had left her, I wrote a note of encouragement, knowing and relating to her pain. During the week that followed, I sent out notes to both my gift-recipients, stating that the gift was from the Brumbaugh family not just from me, but that it really was from God through us. I deliberated on just how to state it, to say it in a correct way. 
. . .
It was a joy to hear back after they were received. The woman whose husband is incarcerated called me up, her voice appreciative with a hint of emotion. Yes, times had been hard and she was so grateful. She wanted me to thank everyone. It would meet a specific need. The man from my church thanked me, his smile genuine and words sincere, telling me it met a need. My pastor later told me that when the card was received, this man told him that it was exactly the amount needed to meet their house payment. The gift surprised him and blessed his family while also encouraging him in his faith. Well, the note to the other woman didn’t go unacknowledged either. Later she and I met. We talked for hours as our hearts met in understanding, two women looking to God when the pieces don’t fit. 

That was the only year we as a family did our Christmas giving in such a way. It stands out in my mind as one of those special times when the real meaning of Christmas came through. Our family likes to sing at Christmas, and we did. Mostly hymn-type Christmas songs like Silent Night. The songs’ words speak of Christ, the angels, and the blessed babe in a manger. God with us. It is satisfying and unselfish when a person gives to others with no thought of self or receiving in return.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A True Story: A Christmas Star and a Cross



A Christmas Star turned Cross

Marvin and I were quietly talking as we sat looking at the stately pine tree gracing the platform of the century-old church's sanctuary where we both attend.  He said to me.  “I put it up again.”

“The star?” I asked.  He nodded.  We both sat quietly remembering back to Christmas of 2002.  A melancholy feeling enveloped me and a smile came to my eyes.  “That was really something,” I said.  “It’s a story that should be told.”  Tears lightly glistened in his eyes as he glanced away, touched by the memory.


One of my jobs I've done in our small country church is to direct the Christmas program which is a whole-church effort with children and adults participating as musicians, actors, narrators, and a few helpers to make or arrange the props and what-not.  It is a worthy undertaking, one that I have agreed to plan and supervise some years. Part of this noteworthy challenge I believe, is coming up with a script rich in dialogue, a dialogue that will tug at the heart and pull in the listeners.  I want the audience to be interested observers and maybe, hopefully, moved to see the Savior’s birth for the true miracle it is, also portraying in some form the purpose, the redemptive gift of his life.  

 The second component is finding just the right Christmas music to compliment the play, incorporating children and adult voices in musical variations and choirs.  To accomplish this endeavor, I begin a few months ahead by sorting through my own ideas, thoughtfully matching people’s skills and talents with my storyline concept (do we have someone who can do this part, sing this song, what props will we need, etc.), then the task of putting it all on paper.  As the writer of the script, it is always my intention to make the words speak for themselves, clearly and with passion.


The star was my idea, one of my innovations to blend the baby in the manger with the Christ on the cross.

The play that year was about two pre-teen boys having a conversation about life in general.  As the dialogue ensues the boy who has yet to believe in Christ is commenting about differing views and in the discussion he happens to ask the other boy, who believes in Christian truth, why Jesus is a part of Christmas.  The second boy begins to share the reasons by telling the real Christmas story, while at the same time answering corresponding questions his friend asks.  As the boys dialogue back and forth, the Christmas pageant unfolds with angels, shepherds, innkeepers, Mary, Joseph and the holy infant,  King Herod and the wisemen, all parading through the sanctuary, speaking their lines then leaving on cue, the music and scenes eventually leading up to the conclusion.

That year I asked Marvin if he would make something for me.  He is a faithful helper who gets the stage ready with prop supports and lighting.  “I’d like to have a large star shining on center stage.  Inside the star I’d like to have a cross made with red lights.  But the cross and the star need to have separate switches.”
 
“Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” replied Marvin, “I already have a star.  I’ll arrange a cross on the inside of it.”  So he went to work on my request, taking down the star from his exterior house Christmas decorations and adding a shape of a cross in red lights intersecting the white lights of the star.  When finished, he put the star with its newly lit cross back up on his house until we would need it for the play.
 
A couple of Sundays later both Marvin’s wife and then Marvin came to me with eyes shining.  “You won’t believe what happened this week,” they said to me.  And then they shared this marvelous story that still gives me a thrill when I think about it. 
   
It seems that a neighbor of theirs has the difficult situation of having grandchildren who are forbidden to attend church.  She is saddened by this and has desired to share her faith with her grandchildren but she has little opportunity to do so.  That week she had come over to Marvin and Mary’s home full of excitement and happy tears.  She wanted them to know what had occurred the night before.   The evening before she had been driving her grandson to town when he noticed the star shining on Marvin and Mary's house. 

“Grandma,” he exclaimed, “There’s a cross in the star on that house!”  After thinking a moment he asked her, “Why do you think it has a cross in it?”  It was a perfect opening.  So as they traveled the twenty minutes to a neighboring town, she explained to him about Jesus' birth and the need for Jesus Christ to come to earth so he could save sinful people by dying on the cross, and she tied it to the significance of His resurrection.  When she parked the car he said, “Grandma, I want to ask Jesus to be my Savior.”  She thought he probably was speaking on impulse and it didn’t seem to be the right time or place, so she hesitated.  But he insisted. He meant it.  Right then and there in a grocery store parking lot her young grandson understood the message of salvation and believed, giving his life to Christ.  As Marvin was relating the story, I could tell he was moved by the simplicity of being so humbly used by God.
.........

The night of the Christmas program the star is brightly shining center stage as the angels, shepherds and wise men tell their stories, skillfully guiding us to the climactic moment.  “So you see, Jesus Christ came because he loves you and he loves me and he wants to have a relationship with us,” the boy states to the other boy.  “And that is why it matters that Jesus came to this earth.” 


The friend quickly responds, “Um…hm.., Well, gotta go. See ya later.” 

“Later.” They slightly nod their heads, the conversation is over.
  
The boy rushes to leave, and then he slows down.  Looking up he sees the bright white star and stops.  The red lights of the cross come on, glowing and shimmering in the white star.  He gazes a moment at the cross in the star and ponders its meaning.  “It makes sense. … It must be true.  Wow, Jesus did that for me…”  He walks a bit, drops to his knees near the stage steps, bends his head, and speaks with feeling. “God, I know you love me, you died for me and my sins.  I want you to be my Savior and my friend.  I believe in you.   

Quietly the entire cast gathers on stage and begins to whisper-sing, “Mary had a baby born in Bethlehem…the greatest story of them all…”  The boy lifts his head, stands a moment with a softened expression, glances at the star, and then moves to join the others.  Immediately all the stage lights are ablaze, and we triumphantly sing the finale in full voice, “Come on ring those bells, light the Christmas tree, Jesus He was born, born for you and me…”

Monday, December 16, 2013

JOY . HOPE . LOVE . PEACE

MERRY CHRISTMAS 
  
Some Christmas thoughts in the spiritual realm.
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JOY
JOY entered our world one dark night in the town of Bethlehem.  The place it appeared was not where you would have expected to find it.  JOY came to a lowly stable with its assortment of barnyard animals.  It was JOY that filled a mother’s heart as she held the blessed Babe in her arms for the first time.  She knew this child was like no other.  In awe she held him close and praised the God who had fulfilled His promise to all people. 
It was JOY the angels sang to the shepherds out on the hills as they tended their sheep.  And it was JOY the shepherds felt as they knelt before this newborn King and acknowledged His arrival.  That night, so long ago, released a newfound JOY into the earthly realm.  Though some would never notice its arrival, others would reach out to know this Savior and they would find the JOY that He gives to all who ask.  JOY, it is such a beautiful word to describe the presence of Jesus Christ, to a world that needs Him so much.
JOY, real joy, is here today.  It is JOY we receive, when we behold this same Jesus, as we embrace all that He offers us each day.
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HOPE
What comes to mind when you think of HOPE?  Is HOPE what makes the future bright, or helps you with the struggles of the day? We see the face of HOPE in the smile of a baby looking up at its mother.  HOPE is a bill that gets paid when it didn’t seem possible.  There is HOPE in a sunrise with its promise of a new beginning.  We find HOPE in the smallest blessing that is ours each day.  The presence of HOPE often parallels the shadows of our steps.
            If we were to search for HOPE’s place of origin, I believe it would lead us on a journey back through time, to the ancient Garden of Eden.  There we would see a young couple distressed with their newfound awareness of personal guilt, a burden of fear and sadness.  But next to them we would see God speaking words of comfort as He unveils a reason for them to persevere.  Then, we would see it, HOPE, in the form of a promise, a promise to be fulfilled in the birth of the Lord Jesus, the Savior of the world.
Yes, it is God, Who gives us a reason to HOPE.  If we look at the blessings which are hidden in our days, we will find God.  In finding Him, we receive, HOPE.  HOPE speaks to the future and says, each day has its purpose, each heartache its comfort, and each gift, its Giver.
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PEACE
PEACE is what everyone wants but so few have.  We all know that it’s not possible to buy PEACE.   There are times when we experience it for momentary seconds.  All too quickly it fades away.  PEACE is illusive it seems. I’m glad to say, PEACE is something you know when it is yours.  In the knowing of PEACE, you are able to understand the difference between a life with peace, in contrast to the way it used to be.  It is like a riddle one cannot solve until it becomes your own reality.
What does PEACE look like?  Why do we associate PEACE with Christmas and the Baby Jesus?  The answer is simple but hard for us to grasp.  It is found in the purpose of this sweet Baby’s life.  He was God and He was man.  When His mission on earth was accomplished, His innocent blood was shed as He hung on that tree.  For you see, it was not easy for Him to purchase our PEACE, but He didn’t hesitate.  Through His death He claimed victory over all that haunts us.  Through His resurrection He could offer us the PEACE that forgiveness and newness bring.  Jesus Christ is the true source of PEACE.  It is like this; we do not have to feel empty anymore.  We don’t have to keep trying and striving, buying and doing in the endless pursuit of happiness and fulfillment, purpose and meaning.  Rather, real PEACE is just that.  PEACE, is contentment of the deepest kind.
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LOVE
The Christmas Story is a story of LOVE.  LOVE is something we all need and want.  LOVE has many wonderful traits, the most notable of these is that LOVE is unselfish in nature.  LOVE desires the best for the one it loves.   We find that LOVE will not change with the untidy circumstances of life.  True LOVE always stays in character.
The gift of LOVE is evident in the simple story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  He came because of His LOVE for me, for you, for the murderer and for the priest, for the millionaire and for the gangster, for the unloveable and the loveable.  In His LOVE there is no discrimination, no bias, and no rejection.  Everyone is wanted, and all are seen as worth it!  Yes, Jesus’ LOVE is amazing.  
Do you think we deserve His LOVE?  The answer can be found in how He views His children.  The Savior transmits His worth to us.  And in so doing, we are transformed in His sight.  Jesus’ LOVE sees us as precious jewels shimmering on a satin cloth of royal blue, set apart as rare and priceless gems.   He sees what we will become when He, the Master Stonecutter, has brought out our inner beauty, as we reflect the precision and wisdom of the Master’s touch.  This is His LOVE gift to us.
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JESUS
These four blessings, the blessings of LOVE, JOY, PEACE, and HOPE, can be likened to strands in a rope that when wrapped together as twine become something strong and mighty.  The rope’s strength and power is derived from its source, a material that is like no other.  In our lives, what is that source? The Source is JESUS, Who came to this world as a little infant in swaddling clothes.  Who was and is the foundation of all these wonderful blessings.  JESUS, came to offer us HOPE to help us each day.  He came to give us PEACE to calm our hearts.  But JESUS did not stop there; He said that if we surrender and rest in Him, we will know abundant JOY and the fulfilling of our heart’s desire.  JESUS, through the sacrifice of His own life, is able to extend grace to us with a redeeming LOVE.  Only JESUS and His HEAVENLY FATHER could write the CHRISTMAS story that we celebrate today. 
            Through these words connected with the first Christmas story, I hope you have turned your gaze toward Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and have seen Him in His glory and His majesty.    
To God be the Glory.
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JOY . HOPE . LOVE . PEACE
Norma L. Brumbaugh

Friday, December 13, 2013

CHRISTMAS GIFT GIVING

Need a good read?  
Running out of ideas for Christmas gifts?

TAKE A LOOK ...
  • A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR THAT HARD-TO-BUY-FOR PERSON.
  • FOR SOMEONE YOU KNOW WHO IS GOING THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH.
  • FOR YOURSELF, FINDING A BOOK FOR SPIRITUAL REJUVENATION.
  • ARE YOU WANTING TO FIND GOD IN A NEW WAY?
HAVE I GOT A BOOK FOR YOU!!!

Amazon Book Link is HERE
Look no further! 
This book is available at Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, and Inspiring Voices. 
 http://www.amazon.com/N.-L.-Brumbaugh/e/B00BOHQUZ2  (both paperback & Kindle)

If you are looking for a Christmas gift to give to a special person that will encourage them and lift up their spirits, you will find that this book enters that deeper place of quietness with God. 

It has blessed many people with its quiet strength. That's because, God helped me write it. He was with me and ministered to me during my moments with Him.

This book, The Meeting Place, is a spiritual memoir of private thoughts written over a year's time at a lookout overlooking Butte Creek Canyon in northern California. Many people have been encouraged by its message. Just this week I received a short facebook post highlighting its tenderness and realness. This is from someone whom I've never met.
"Norma, I was so excited to see the ad for your kindle edition in the side bar on FB. Awesome!!! I love that book. I will have to get the kindle edition. If any of you are looking for a very moving & a profound read, get your copy of "The meeting place" by N. L. Brumbaugh. It will bless you deeply. thanks Norma!"                                                                         -comment on facebook

Blessings to you!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
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#Christmas #Spiritual #Book #Meditation #Devotional #Gift #The Meeting Place: Moments with God at Lookout Point

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Renewal: A Rose Named Hope

For five years now, "Hope" has reminded me of the need for hope.
A dried out baby rose in a clear vase sits with several companion blooms in a dark corner.  For close to a month they sat on my kitchen counter until I relegated them to the top shelf of a bookcase out of sight, they signified a memory meaningful only to me and were losing some of their beauty.  Once in awhile, I would look at the tiny blossoms, fragile petals in variegated pink hues, the last bouquet from a friend whom had been dear to me.  A glance would transport me back to better days when life seemed to have more promise, more joy.  Over the course of the ensuing months, on occasion I would look at the roses to see if there were any changes or if they should be cast in the awaiting waste basket.  They remained the same, still-life, heads down.  I couldn’t bring myself to toss them out.  I missed my friend, a sliver of sorrow would clutch my heart


Then one day as I finished having a lengthy time alone with God and was getting ready to go on with my day, a heaviness in my heart making the day seem dark, when something arrested my attention.  A small whisper came to me entering into my thoughts, “Go look at the flowers.”  I gathered myself from the place where I sat and entered the room.  The dried roses were there, the same as always.  Nothing had changed.  I walked closer to them, carefully removing the vase off the high shelf as I looked intently at the dried petals.  I noticed some dust particles and a few miniscule webs crisscrossing their delicate heads.  The whisper spoke again and said, See the one that’s not drooping down?  Look at it.”  Sure enough, there was one rose in the center of the bouquet with its dried blossom looking out and slightly up.  The other roses were drooping in quiet deadness.  Its name is Hope.”  The thought quickly framed itself in my mind, and I focused on that one uplifted bloom reaching high to elevate its head. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gently replaced the vase.  “Flowers having names?” the question floated through my thoughts.  “Do you think the Creator names His creations?” I mused to myself as I returned to my tasks.  My spirits lifted, and I felt lighter.  I was encouraged by a dried up little flower that had the good fortune to be named, Hope. Its message became mine. There is always hope.  Throughout the day I thought about hope.  Hope during those times when we are in need and hope when all is right in our lives.


Today I needed its strength, its reminder.  My eyes searched for it, rested a moment. Reassured, I went on with my day, a small element of peace settling my feelings of discomfort.  Yes, it offers me a small blessing in the complicated thoughts of my day.  I am thankful for my little gift, my encourager that helps me refocus when hard moments come my way. 


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The Rest of the Story


My story of, Hope, is one I have shared with a few people during their time of need.  I gave to a colleague, a teacher recently diagnosed with breast cancer, a woman who was not yet forty, a mother of a toddler and a teenager. She embraced me the next day saying it gave her comfort. Another time I gave it to a friend to give to his sister whose husband had recently passed away. She read it, then exclaimed, "Wait a minute." She entered her room, took an arrangement down from the closet shelf, one from the funeral. "I have one, too. I have a 'Hope' flower!" She exclaimed. Her bouquet had one flower bud faced looking up.  The first time I sent it was the day after I wrote it.  I decided to send it to an acquaintance of mine.  She had lost her youngest son to suicide at the young age of 18.  He was a friend of my oldest son,  a devastating loss to all who knew him but especially to their close-knit family. I had written the story on New Year's Eve as a reminder of the good things that come in spite of the hard times. The next day, on New Year’s Day, I thought of her and emailed her my little story of Hope. She responded with an email of her own.

"Dear Norma -

You are so sweet to write that beautiful story and send it to me.  I immediately thought of the dried flowers we have in T___s' room - from one of the bouquets we received - almost three years ago - When I had a moment, I went and looked at them, and there was one with its head facing up, so I have a blossom (dried as it is) named Hope!  A sister to yours."
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 That little vase of blooms is still in my room, much the same.  And Hope is lifting her head.  And I hope that Hope encourages you and makes you smile.   
A smile is a gift to the soul.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE



 A Miracle

A miracle is ours to behold.  
A miracle is ours, one which happened long ago on a starry night in a little town called Bethlehem nestled in Judean hills.  Not too many people were aware of the significance that night, only a few unrelated persons and a stable of animal kind.  That holy night, The Great Almighty God put into motion the one plan, the only plan that could and would bring salvation to the world.  This plan began with a supreme gift, a gift from God, God’s most precious Son to become the central figure in the drama to now unfold.  As we look closely, we can see that it was an unusual collection of people brought together as witnesses to acknowledge the birth of God’s son born in human flesh. 

Those of us who already know the story, realize that, simply put, it was a strange way to place a King into a world; missing was the noise of fanfare, missing was royal ceremony and grandeur, and missing was the adulation of the peoples and kingdoms of the day.  Instead we find:  some ordinary folk, a few learned men, a quiet young woman, heavenly angel messengers, all with a part to play in this unusual account of the birth of a King.  Let’s think it through.  Just who were those people on that historic occasion?  Why were they selected to be eye witnesses?  And besides this, does it matter today centuries later?

 Mary
We see Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Who was she?
A young virgin maiden, hand-picked by God to bring His Son into the earthly realm..  She was a humble woman.  Her character was such that she saw herself as little and low, simple and poor.  When the Angel Gabriel told her of the honor which was to be hers, Mary responded to God with deep reverence and with a holy meekness of attitude.  She marveled that God willed a holy Son to be born of her.  God’s greatness in comparison to her humble state caused Mary to say to the angel, “I am the Lord’s handmaiden” and to speak praises to God, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God  my Savior.  Thus, the Angel Gabriel said to her, “You have found favor with God and the Lord is with you.”  Mary became a woman known by her grace and all manner of virtues.

After traveling to Bethlehem, weary and tired, Mary along with her espoused, Joseph, found themselves in a stable for the night since there was no comfortable room to be had. Soon it became apparent that Mary’s time was accomplished.  This would be the place she would bring her child into the world.  That night, Mary gave birth to a Son.  She called him Jesus.  Here in the most unlikely of places, a barnyard stable, Mary beheld her son for the first time, not just any son, but The Son of God.  

 Her heart was full of wonder, many thoughts were hers to ponder:  The honor of being the mother of the Son of God, the immaculate conception, the life He would lead, yes, thoughts that brought awe to her soul.  Somehow God’s light must have shone brightly in that simple setting, a beautiful miracle in soft blend with her mother’s heart, a heart now knowing a fullness of love.  Can you picture what it was like?  Mary holding the baby close to her heart, the infant wrapped snuggly in warm swaddling clothes.  An infant who would one day set the world on a new course….

In the drama of the first Christmas night, we look into the stable.  There is hay, a manger, some stalls for the animals.  It is shelter for the animals during the cool of the night.  But wait.  Do you think the animals realize that a miracle is happening in that room?  I wonder if there is a holy hush, even with animals present, as a glow straight from God shines in their midst.  Amazing isn’t it?  The first ones on the scene to view the baby Jesus are the friendly beasts around that manger bed.

SHEPHERDS
Let’s see, …who is next? Yes, the shepherds on the hillside.
It must have taken the shepherds by surprise.  One angel and then a host of angels began proclaiming the good news of the Savior’s birth to shepherds watching sheep at night.  The glory of the angels must have lit up the sky.  And the music must have been, well…,you know, heavenly!  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, and good will to men.  For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.  You shall find the babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” Such beautiful powerful words!  It is interesting, isn’t it?  The angels were heralds of a message to the most unlikely of people,… just ordinary working class men and boys guarding the flock.  

These shepherds were not in the comfort of warm homes with their families, no, they were doing their job that night, and not a particularly glamorous job at that.  Yet, in God’s goodness and as witnesses to God’s plan of the ages, they were chosen to be a part of that pivotal night.  God’s ways are mysterious.  You never quite know what to expect or what will happen next!  So, what did the shepherds do? They did not wait, they did not question, they did not use caution, for they knew the message was true.  They hastened to the stable to bow before the new king.  These lowly shepherds had worshipful hearts.  They believed the good news of great joy, that the baby was Jesus, the Lord.  Soon, after witnessing the Christ Child first-hand, they returned.  To all they met, the shepherds spoke of their amazement and shared openly what they had heard and seen and had been told.  Their hearts were full. It is recorded that they glorified and praised God as they returned to their flocks.

These shepherds are so much like most of us; hardworking, average people, going about their business, nothing remarkable or fancy about them.  We, like them, have been given the honor, privilege, and tools to know the Savior and bear witness to Jesus’ life.  It is a message for ALL, not an elitist group.  We, like the shepherds, must find the Savior, worship Him, and in the doing of it, we will know the same joy as they experienced.  These ordinary men were never the same.  It is that way when we meet Jesus.

WISEMAN
The pronouncement came to one other group of people.
For them it was not so obvious as angels singing in chorus.  Instead the announcement came in the form of a star, an unusual single star seen in the Eastern sky.  These wise men, called Magi, believed the words of the prophet in the ancient writing, foretelling the birth of a ruler in the land of Judah, a Ruler who would become the shepherd of God’s people, Israel. These men had respect mixed with belief in the God of the Holy Scriptures.  They were studying the night sky as they often did, when their attention was arrested by a star. Not just any star, but a message in the sky from the God they acknowledged.   The wisemen knew they must go on a quest to seek the One who would fulfill the prophetic writing.   

The wisemen knew this was BIG. It seems as though these magi did not hesitate but rather gathered their resources and supplies to make the long journey which would take well over a year. Why would they do this, at great cost in time and money?  It was because they knew and they believed.  These men sought to worship the One who was born King of the Jews.  After a false lead and a diversion, they rejoiced when they came to  the house of the Child with his mother, Mary.  The magi bowed down, worshiped the young Child, opened their treasures and presented the Child with gifts, gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh.  Then, satisfied that their quest was complete, their joy became full for they knew in their hearts that this young Child was the Promised One, the Messiah.

In the wisemen we see traits that we also possess: the ability to know, the ability to pursue, the ability to remain steadfast in purpose, and the ability to acknowledge and worship the One who is King, the Ruler, the Shepherd of His flock.  And we, like them, can give praise to God.  Gifts that we treasure can also be willingly offered at the feet of Jesus.  Sometimes we go on a long journey in search of the Savior, to find Him and know Him—but we soon realize that it is not the journey that really matters.  No, it is the finding of Jesus and our adoration in His presence that is most important.

We are back to the original thought. Why does it matter?  
What is so important about Jesus' birth that in churches around the world today, and in homes of Christian families, we commemorate the birth of the Holy Infant Jesus?  Why indeed?  It is because we KNOW.  We know the end of the story.  We know the final chapter of the book.  We know the truth about Jesus.

From this sweet baby boy, a man grew, a perfect man.  This perfect man lived a perfect sinless life, a life with no perks and no material possessions, the life of a nomad, a life with no home, a life hid in God the Father’s will, a life authenticating His holy purpose by the performing of supernatural miracles, a life used to express His Father’s will by telling parables and foretelling His own coming death and resurrection.  This perfect God-Man lived an amazing sinless life until that fateful day but also victorious day, when the forces of hell could not prevail against the forces of heaven, but were defeated by the sacrifice of the God-Man. Jesus Christ became the sin-bearer on that tree.  He became sin for all of humankind.   

Thus, He completed and fulfilled the plan of God the Father to redeem the world.  Through Jesus Christ, peace came to the people of that day and to us.  It was more than just “mission accomplished”.  Jesus Christ’s life and death was the most critical time in history which has an on-going impact for all the generations to come.   We ask, What difference does it make? It makes ALL the difference. Man, woman, and child can know this Christ as Savior, Forgiver, and Redeemer because of His life and His Passion. We can know the presence of God as real and true as the steps we take.  The people up here represent you, your life.  You, like the humble Mary, like the ordinary shepherds, like the scholarly magi, have a part to play, a life to live, a purpose. 

The story now includes YOU.  It is your script now…

What will you do with Jesus?

Monday, December 9, 2013

POEM: THAT WE MIGHT LIVE



A Christmas Poem to remind us of "Why"

That We Might Live

He was born that we might live
He was born that we might sing
He was born that we might know
       The love of God

He was born that we might seek
He was born that we might understand
He was born that we might know
          The joy of God

He was born that he might die
He claimed death that He might save the world
He became life that we might know
          The peace of God

He took our curse to the grave
He broke sin’s bond and set us free
He gave us worth
O to God the glory be

He was born that we might live
He was born that we might live
He was born that we might know
        How to live 
            
~The Holy Scripture says:
~"The Father has sent the Son as Savior of the World."
~"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

And that is WHY we celebrate our Savior's birth on Christmas Day.


Norma L. Brumbaugh