Dec 282016

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has left me little time to get online this past week, let alone to write.  My thoughts this time around, therefore, are a bit shorter than my normal bloviation.  ‘Tis the season for rejoicing.  🙂

And ’tis has been the season for shopping for presents.  And wrapping them and then opening them (and then having to fight through the packaging to get to each toy and having to set up each electronic because you’re looked at as the go to guy for such even though you’re far from an expert).  And ’tis the season to shop for and prepare and serve all kinds of food.  And tis the season to make the rounds to visit all kinds of family and friends.  Hustle and bustle, busy, busy, busy.

Meanwhile there is the battle and struggle to keep the remembrance of what this season is really all about.  To deal with the blahs and bah humbugs that accompany thoughts of how commercialized and distracted we have become in our culture during this time.  While balancing that with the joy that is brought to and by so many through giving and receiving.  The joys of seeing the children’s faces lighting up when first seeing the gifts under the tree.  The joys of giving that special gift that truly touches someone else.

The joys can hit such a high.  Yet we also know of so many who struggle through this season.  Those who have lost loved ones or who are down on their luck and have very little or nothing at all to give or to receive.  Those who have no one to celebrate with or the children who wake up to no Christmas at all because they have no parents or parents who can’t even get themselves together enough to do a Christmas for them.  And those who are depressed for however many reasons or circumstances and suffer through the holidays that they are supposed to “enjoy”.  These things just don’t seem right or fair.

We should be celebrating the greatest Gift of all, yet there are so many who are suffering through so much pain.  Even if we’re not the ones suffering great pain, we are still conflicted with so much that happens during this season. We struggle to come to terms with all of it.

We have been reading on these pages about the coming of Christ.  For onto us a Savior is born, and He is coming yet again.  An anticipation of the remembrance of His coming in the Incarnation and an anticipation of His coming yet again where He bring final judgment and set all things right once and for all.  The Good News and what it all means.

Lord, we thank you for all the joy and happiness of this season. We admit to the struggles and pains of this season with which we sometimes don’t know what to do.  Help us to keep our eyes on you.  In what you have already done and in the promises you have given.

“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.” – Isaiah 9:6

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—  the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—” – I John 1:1-2

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:28-29

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

  17 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: The Greatest Gift”

  1. Thanks Kevin!

  2. Josh,

    The funny thing is I thought of that article when I made the greatest gift reference. Now I’m awaiting all the accolades. 🙂

    Meanwhile, you don’t know how to read music, do you. Otherwise, we may need to conduct a witch hunt down there in North Carolina.

  3. Jean,

    You gave us some great thoughts during this Advent season.

  4. If I were an evangelical (in the popular American usage of the word), I would wonder and be concerned about why the BB wrote the satire piece Josh referenced in comment #1. Why would that article be funny?

  5. I love the timeliness of this article. We need to keep talking about Christmas as it is not over, but just in the beginning stages.
    Merry 4th day of Christmas. 🙂

  6. Jean,

    I think it’s meant to be funny because contrasting Jesus as the “greatest gift” with all the other gift giving and receiving that so engrosses Christmas in our culture has become a very commonplace cliché. So the humor is in acting like it’s a cutting edge idea that’s going to bring all kinds of notoriety to a pastor (with the satire being how sometimes evangelical pastors do gain all kinds of attention for their “cutting edge ideas”).

  7. Jean, I poke at the evangelicals all the time and I am told that I am cruel. The BB does it and it is called satire.

    However, we make the same point.

  8. Yes Kevin, I agree with you. “Cutting edge” goes right along with “visionary”, “anointed”, “innovative”, and another favorite – “authentic.”

  9. Kevin, To be careful, I only read music at home. When I go to church, I sometimes sit the music upside down to make sure not to stumble another brother. 🙂

  10. In Ortholandia, the Slavs are on the old Julian Calendar and the Greeks follow the Latin calendar. This is a scandal.

    However, for us as a family, it has some benefits. On December 25 we open presents, serve a nice* dinner, and entertain family members. All the “commercial” stuff gets done on December 25, which has no particular religious significance in our home.** So that’s all over with. It was a load of fun but I didn’t feel guilty for not concentrating on the Nativity. We did go to church because it was Sunday.

    Jan 7 is “real” Christmas for us. (Jan 7 is actually December 25, Julian-style.) On that day we will attend Christmas liturgy, receive the Greatest Gift of All, and then spend the day at our pastor’s home, breaking the Advent fast and basking in peace and good will.

    * Fish for the Orthodox- it’s still the Advent Fast.
    ** Well, it is the day we commemorate St. Herman of Alaska.

  11. Kevin – very well written, thank you.

  12. Josh,

    But reading the music upside down, isn’t that like backmasking? Do you end up chanting “All Hail Satan”? 😉

  13., no…Like I sit it upside down on the stand so people will think I have no clue what I’m looking at.

    Wow, I didn’t think about what message I might be giving off. I’ll scrap the music all-together.

  14. someone waaay back suggested that pastors could work around the problem of who they could, without compromising the Faith, unite in the bonds of Holy Matrimony by refusing to perform marriage ceremonies and thus avoid the required legal requirements of the State. Instead, send your folks to the local justice of the peace who can legally record for the State your intentions/vows… then… the Church would be free to have a lovely religious ceremony – recognized by God only.
    maybe we could do the same with Christmas… pretty much as Xenia described above… or for us evangelicals we could swap ends – have a “religious” December 25th with sacred carols and a manger scene etc. and then, taking advantage of the after Xmas sales have a gift exchange on New Years… dunno – seems like it’d work… 🙂

  15. Luther never wanted the church to do weddings. He wanted everyone to get a civil marriage and then he only wanted to do an annual marriage blessing from the church steps Kind of like we do for the annual blessing of the animals..

  16. weddings seem to have become secular at best… my oldest grandson missed the chance to have his wedding in an old Lutheran Church with his paternal grandmother playing their grand and historic organ… the bride, even tho she wore an expensive silk faille ball gown, wanted to have the ceremony on a grassy field with all the guests sitting in folding chairs… ugh… another grandson was married in a field next to a cattle pasture… one was married in a nice community hall in the middle of a grassy field… there is something beautiful – or should be – about standing at the altar and vowing before God and man: “in sickness and in health till death do us part” … marriage today seems to be an event, not a condition lol

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