The Birth in Bethlehem

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

God’s amazing design is before us in the birth of Jesus. Jesus did not enter our world as an adult. He came as an infant, fully human and also God. 

He wasn’t born in a palace or a hospital equipped with modern technology. His birth was dependent on the natural physical ability of a young woman to give birth.

God didn’t need human intervention to carry out his plan for our good. This fills me with joy and trust. We can rest, knowing God is sovereign over our world. 

Luke, the physician wrote in his gospel: And while they [Joseph and Mary] were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2: 6-7

Birth in Bethlehem
Painting in a Cathedral in Finland

Have a blessed and joyous Christmas!

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: BIRTH

Also linking with Sue’s image-in-ing and Inspire Me Monday .

The Light of Christmas

Christmas, the day that we commemorate Jesus’ birth, is coming. Last night we attended a concert titled Night of Glory. It was good to pause from my errands, cookie baking, and card writing. I listened to the story of God’s amazing gift, told in song. The concert began with the orchestra playing Farandole (March of the Kings).

The wise men had a star in the night sky to lead them to the promised Savior. We have the Bible—old and new testament. In both prophecy and in the gospels, Jesus comes into the world bringing light. 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

The gospel of John tells about the Savior coming to earth.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. . .  John 1: 9-12

I remember the times that the electricity in our home was disrupted by a storm. When the power was off we looked for flashlights and candles. We needed light to dispel the darkness, to see where we were going. 

In the same way we need a relationship with God through Jesus.  We live in a world darkened by sin. Jesus gives direction for our life.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. The prompt is: DARKNESS

When Pain Leads to Prayer

After Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden God said, I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; withpain you will give birth to children. Genesis 3:16

Was this a punishment or a way of reminding Eve to seek God’s help?

In my own life, periods of suffering have motivated me to communicate with God. When our son was diagnosed with leukemia I experienced great emotional pain. I learned to open my heart and ask God the questions that were weighing heavily. The Psalms were helpful in guiding my prayers. I prayed for God’s help and guidance.

Pain can cause us to pause and seek help.  

For a period of time I attended women who labored and gave birth at home. As labor intensified they sometimes prayed. One mother asked her husband to pray. Another mama asked me to pray.

As I observed the prayers I saw faith and motherhood in a new way. Beginning motherhood with a prayer for God’s help was right.

Christmas is coming. Do you wonder about the birth of Jesus? Certainly Mary experienced pain. What was it like for Mary?

Mary and Manger

Yes, there was pain and stress but God demonstrated great love and grace in the incarnation.

Jesus experienced the ultimate pain as he approached death on the cross. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22: 42-44

Pain, prayer and love are connected.

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: WITH

The manger scene is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Deep and Time Honored Messages of Hope

In the past few months my husband and I have been worshipping on Sunday mornings with a church plant. We gather in a room of a nearby hotel. The musically talented members of our group lead the singing. Sometimes our singing is accompanied by keyboard, by violin or acapella.

We have sung some of the older hymns. Some are new to me. I don’t have a great voice but I enjoy participating, letting the words wash over me. It gives me peace to sing hymns that believers have lifted their voices to over many years.

Samuel Trevor Francis, an English pastor and hymn writer, gave us this hymn:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches oer His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth oer them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
Tis a haven of sweet rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus.
Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee!

We are entering the advent season with the opportunity to hear and sing Christmas carols. I am looking forward to going to Candlelight Carols at Moody Church tomorrow. Our niece is a student at Moody Bible Institute and will be playing in the orchestra.

The hymns and carols are a salve for our soul. Do you have a favorite hymn?

This post is participating in Five Minute Friday. The prompt is: DEEP

Mary, Did You Wonder?

In the past couple weeks I have been feeding, swaddling and cuddling an infant. And I have thought about Mary. The account in Luke tells about the angel’s appearance and promise “You shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 2:31b-33

When Mary visited Elizabeth, she received encouragement and confirmation. She responded with a beautiful song of praise.

But then Mary and Joseph had to make the trip to Bethlehem. And the birth of Jesus took place in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. Did she wonder about the circumstances of his birth, the Son of the Most High? If it was me, at this point doubt of the angel’s words might have crept in.

Mary, Did You Wonder?

The visit by the shepherds may have encouraged her once more as they told Mary and Joseph about the angels that had announced Jesus birth to them.

Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

God’s way are often different from what we expect.

Mary is an example for us. She took note of the signs that God gave. When she was called on to trust Him she sang an offering of praise. She treasured the events that demonstrated God at work. She pondered. She thought and considered quietly, soberly and deeply.

 

Mary, Did You Wonder?

I am linking up with Five Minute Friday, a community of inspirational writers. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is DIFFERENT. Click here to visit FMF.

The Nativity Scene is from a Raphael Tuck & Sons postcard courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

 

Advent and the Family

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son . . . John 3:16

As I think about Christmas and God’s great gift to us, I find it meaningful that Jesus came to a family. He came as an infant to Mary and Joseph, to the family unit. From the beginning, starting in Genesis, God planned the family unit.

We have fractures and brokenness in family life, but it is God’s design for nurture. Jesus came to heal the brokenness. The church family is called to be a place of healing.

My daughter and her husband are taking in two children for foster care, hoping to adopt. This is a stretching experience. We have limited insight into the heritage and health history of the children. We simply know that they need a loving home.

It gives me joy to see my daughter and son-in-law welcoming them into their home. I am blessed in being able to help. As I swaddle and feed the baby he cuddles up against me.

And so I have new insight. As part of a church family my willingness to extend love needs to be stretched. God’s desire is for us to bring healing to those in need.

Five Minute Friday is a community of inspirational writers. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is ONLY.

Thank-you for visiting.   I would be pleased to have you stop  by my  Facebook page.

Draw Near to the Savior

The Bluebird Café and Bookstore is a charming shop, located on Main Street in Hutchinson, Kansas. Whenever I visit my daughter we make a trip to this bookstore. As I walked through the aisles this time a colorful picture book caught my eye.

Christmas in the Barn  was  written by Margaret Wise Brown.   My daughter and I paged through the book, enjoying the rhythm of the words. The animals came near the birth of the babe in the ancient barn.

The pictures enhanced the story told in poetic form. After the shepherds came, the bright star shining above the barn guided the wise men to the barn. The words are a lyrical version of the story recorded in the book of Luke.

So many wonderful parts to the record of Jesus’ incarnation. I like to think about the shepherd’s response.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us”. And they went with haste . . . Luke 2:15-16a

The shepherds saw God’s plan of salvation beginning to unfold. Now we have the Bible with the full story and the opportunity to draw near to the Savior.

This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. Every Friday Kate Motaung gives a word prompt. And then we write for five minutes. Today’s prompt is NEAR.  Visit this community and join the fun by clicking here.

Sharing this post with Faith on Fire , Booknificent Thursday and Literacy Musing Monday also.

Merry Christmas!

Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:

The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.

Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16   This is the gift of Christmas.

Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!

Christmas Pointsetta

The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

Christmas Bells Still Ringing — from the Pen of a Poet

 

Christmas Bells

Over the past couple weeks I have encountered Henry Wadsworth Longfellow twice. I picked up a coffee table book at a home I was visiting. The book had beautiful photos, enticing recipes and quotes from famous writers. One of the quotes was from Longfellow and I wrote it down.  I was touched by his words about gardens.  (The quote  will  appear in a future post.)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jennifer Chiaverini’s novel,  Christmas Bells, gives vignettes of       Longfellow’s life. He encountered tragedy and lived through the pain and turmoil of the Civil War. Towards the end of the Civil War he wrote the poem, “Christmas Bells”. You may have heard it sung. The first line is “I heard the bells on Christmas Day . . .”

The scenes from Longfellow’s life are paired with the story of a modern day family. It was a little challenging for me to grasp the structure of the story at first. This modern story was composed of one scene viewed from the perspective of about six people. Each sees the events that take place a little differently during a children’s choir rehearsal. They are singing “Christmas Bells” of course.

I was really pleased to read the history behind the poem, “Christmas Bells” and I am inspired to read more of Longfellow’s poetry. Personal tragedy and the war almost drove the poet to despair, but he finished his poem with this stanza.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead: nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Note: The photo of the bells and the engraving of Longfellow are via Wikimedia Commons and are public domain.

Linking with Friendship Friday,  Literacy Musing MondayBooknificent ThursdayWholehearted Wednesday, A Little R & R, and Hope in Every Season.

Flowers and Wreaths at the Chicago Botanical Garden

We had a lovely afternoon at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The flowers were in bloom in the conservatories. Lovely wreaths adorned the walls. Poinsettias lined the displays and were hanging from the ceiling! A variety of trains were on display as a Christmas exhibit. The miniature trains travel on tracks through scenes of Chicago.

Blue Hydrangeas at Chicago Botanical Garden

Chicago Botanical Garden

Pointsettas

Chicago Botanical Garden

Christmas Train Exhibit

Linking with Whole Hearted Home, A Little R & RTuesdays with a Twist, Titus 2sdays and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday