Merry Christmas

I love saying Merry Christmas, and when I am out and about enjoying the hustle and bustle of the holidays – I love when someone says it to me. It’s an instant connection. It’s an instant reminder of everything that is good in this world. It literally makes me feel like my whole heart is bursting, and I don’t care at all if that sounds cheesy.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Covid has changed things up these past few months – no doubt. I won’t argue that fact, but I will hold onto the promise that some things will never change.

Like saying Merry Christmas.

Like singing Christmas Carols.

Like celebrating Christ’s birthday.

There’s not a mask, election, virus, or pandemic that can take away that beautiful, holy night that my God sent His son to save a wretched sinner like myself – and that’s the truth.

So, when I say Merry Christmas – when I hear Merry Christmas – I am instantly reminded of that sweet, baby in a manger. The meaning behind those two small words will never ever change.

You see the seemingly small things are inevitably the big things.

Merry Christmas my sweet, sweet friends.

“6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

The Thrill of Hope

Guest Post by Mrs. Jessi Collier

💛Guest Post by Mrs. Jessi Collier

We all know, far too well, that 2020 has been a hard year. We’ve experienced the fear and instability of a global pandemic, lost loved ones to a confusing virus that we still don’t fully understand, struggled with the political division in our nation, shifted our plans and reprioritized our lives, and come face-to-face with the fragility of life that our hearts do not know how to handle. It almost feels like too much to list, much less experience.

And throughout all of this, we’re still experiencing the daily struggles of normal life: hectic schedules, family commitments, hard decisions, weddings, births, divorces, deaths, job

transitions, and moving. And yet, while the virus has pressed the pause button on so many activities and gatherings that are closest to our hearts, life has still been zooming ahead. As surreal as it seems to still have the daily mundane tasks to attend to while the world deals with such a large scale crisis, this is how living has been in the long months of 2020.

All of this has been turning in my head as the holiday season has approached. At times I’ve felt guilty for not feeling my usual amount of joy and wonder, and other times I’ve felt so incredibly thankful to be here to see the lights go up and the trees come out. All of the emotions I’ve felt swirled particularly intensely when I heard “O Holy Night” for the first time this season:

“O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

If there has ever been a year in my lifetime when the world felt weary, it has been this year. If we’ve ever been reminded of our need for a new and glorious morning, for a new sun to rise, it’s been this year.
But the miracle of this season that cannot be dulled by the difficulties in this year is that He came. Jesus Christ knew our need for hope, and so He came. Veiled in flesh, “the King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; in all our trials born to be our friend.” Jesus has never shied away from our struggle or our despair.

The Bible shows Him not only coming to us in the form of a baby, but to people in need over and over. He comes to Peter’s mother-in-law on her sickbed, to the crippled beggar on his mat in Jerusalem, and to Jarius’s sick daughter. There are so many examples of Jesus getting right into the middle of the messes made in people’s lives, from the miracle of His birth to the small moments He shared with individuals.

Ultimately, we celebrate Christmas to honor His coming, and His choice to be with us and die for us. But the incredible news is that He is coming again, to set all things right, and to remake the Earth as it was intended to be. In a year like this, when the very patterns and intricacies of our lives seem to remind us that all is not well, this is the hope that we have: that God hears, and sees; that Christ came, and will come again; that we are not alone.

We were in need of hope, of a Savior, of God, long before 2020. He came then, and He comes now, and He will come again.

From Heavy to Hope

Heavy.

I was trying to think of a word to best describe certain events from this past year, and that’s the word that I kept coming back to.

Heavy.

Webster’s Dictionary defines heavy as difficult to lift or to move.

Yup. I know that feeling.

In Greek the word heavy, or ademoneo, means to be troubled and is used to describe the Lord’s sorrow in Gethsemane.

Although we’ve all had events in 2020 that could only be described as heavy – we know that with that heaviness comes hope. We see that hope in an empty tomb just a few days later.

The heaviness is hard, but the heaviness keeps us humble. After all, we are called to be humble, but that can only happen when we are fully dependent on God.

So maybe parts of 2020 were heavy. Maybe parts broke us into pieces and brought us to our knees.

But maybe that’s where we found God. Maybe that’s where we found the hope we’d been longing for.

And maybe – just maybe – the hope that we obtained on our journey to Jesus will be the very same hope that someone on that path needs.

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope.” Psalm 16:9

May We Be

May we be an instrument of Christ.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10 NLT

We are living in a world that is anything but peace. I grew up being told “hate the sin but love the sinner”. I struggled with that. I still do.

I believe as Christians in this world we are hungry for peace. This scripture is a reminder of what brings us peace, and how we should act to promote the peace that we desire. It reminds me that I am also the sinner, but Christ forgives and loves me.

If you’re like me and want to see peace overcome this world, first learn to forgive. Demonstrate the love of Christ so that others can experience His love and forgiveness. Hate what is evil, love what is good. At least make an effort to live at peace with everyone.

Many things that our heart desires, a relationship with Christ delivers. As we approach the ending of 2020, may we be an instrument of peace. If we are called to serve others, may we serve them well. If our gift is to encourage, may we be encouraging. If we smile by giving, may we give generously.

Be the good. Be the instrument in the world that gives a glimpse of Jesus. Although it takes much time and discipline, offer your life back to God. Allow him to steer you through this world. Nothing should compete with the Father.

Lastly, this world is full of evil. We see it each day. In Romans 12 Paul shares with us a reminder to not allow the evil of this world to conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Amen.

2020

2020 came in like a wrecking ball. You know what I’m saying?

But. There’s always a but.

If we let 2020 (and all that it encompasses) win this war the prize will be:

Anxiety

Aggravation

& Anger

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want none of that.

But if we let God win this battle within our heart and soul then the prize will be:

Growth

Grit

& Grace

I know which trophy I want, and hopefully I can display it for all of my little world to see.

2020 has been hard – no doubt. But don’t let 2020 define who you are as a person.

▪️Don’t let it steal your reactions.

▪️Don’t let it put words into your mouth that you can’t take back.

▪️Don’t let it make you someone that you’re not.

You are God’s girl, and the world (your world) is counting on you to shine God’s light in spite of a “bad” year.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20