December 25, 2013 Christmas Day

The presence is… YOU

 

Today, prayerfully read Luke 2:20

When my family gathers for Christmas time, I always look forward to the mealtimes. Yes, of course the food is delicious and that’s a big part of it. But I also look forward to what happens when the meal is winding down.

 

We tend not to leave the table quickly, but sit and talk for a while, often while a plate of cookies is being passed around. As we talk, we tend to tell stories that everyone has heard before. Nobody seems to mind, though. As many times as we tell them, the stories are as meaningful and intriguing as ever.

 

They are stories about us. They begin with “Do you remember the time when…” and “How about that one time when…” and “That reminds me of …” They are our stories. The stories of our shared experiences. They shape our family and affirm our identity.

 

Over time, the stories we tell around the table begin to include our kids in them. There are new stories that enter into the rotation, and our kids are in the stories, both the characters and the story tellers. It is renewal, refreshment, and legacy.

 

At the same time, some of the old stories begin to be told less and less, and eventually fade away. It is the nature of the family stories that some will be forgotten as time moves inexorably forward.

 

Sometimes someone will remember one of those “forgotten” stories and share it, bringing smiles of recognition and knowing remarks of “Oh, yeah! I had almost forgotten about that.” The recollection of these stories hints at resurrection, and makes you wonder if your own stories will be retold by your great-grandkids a couple of generations from now.

 

There is a mystical power in shared experiences. It allows you to connect with others at a level far deeper than most. The birth of Jesus is an unique opportunity to connect with one another in the most powerful of all shared experience, the experience of God’s love.

 

It is as if, for generation upon generation, followers of Jesus have gathered around the table and asked, “Do you remember what happened when Jesus was born? Wasn’t that amazing? Do you remember how they had to come all the way from Nazareth and Mary was so, so pregnant? Do you remember that smelly old barn? Do you remember those shepherds? Do you remember … ?”

 

It’s a love story. Divine love born in human being. It is the story of God’s love for the world, and it shapes God’s family and affirms our identity.

Do you remember the time when God love the world so much that it overflowed into the world in the birth of a baby named Jesus?

Andy Bryan

What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

December 24, 2013 Christmas Eve

The presence is… born unto us!

 

Today, prayerfully read Luke 2:19

What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

“I don’t want a Christmas you can buy. I don’t want a Christmas you can make. What I want is a Christmas you can hold. A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me. I want a Christmas that whispers, Jesus.” Ann Voskamp

Advent can be a busy time for so many of us. We put away the Halloween decorations and all of a sudden, here we are at Christmas Eve. Where did the time of lounging by the Christmas tree sipping on hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music go? Did I miss the chance to drive around and see all the decorations? What happened to the month of December?

Advent may be behind, but Christmas is ahead. This season is not about what will be under the tree or given to you by another. It is not about the new toys we purchased on Black Friday. Like Ann Voskamp said, Christmas is what holds us and revives us for the year ahead. May the 12 days of Christmas whisper to us the love of Jesus.

Melissa Dodd

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December 23, 2013

The presence is… a fond memory

 

December 23, 2013 Today, prayerfully read Luke 2:13-18

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What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

December 22, 2013 Fourth Sunday of Advent

The presence is… PEACE

 

Today, prayerfully read Luke 2:8-12

When I think about Christmas, I think about the people that I have spent the “day” with.  Growing up in my family Christmas was always at our house.  Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and even grandparents but that does not mean that we were all blood relation but brothers and sisters in Christ.  I remember one Christmas in Bolckow,MO waking up early on Christmas morning and realizing that our family friends were sleeping in the living room.   Not focusing on the presents but how excited to wake up and see our friends in the house on Christmas morning.  I was more excited that day to have the friends in town wake up in our house than I was about the presents.  The reason they were at our house was their heat went out so they came to our house.  The friendship and love that our 2 families shared is more than just a common bond because of kids or other interests.  It is an un-ending love that binds generations.  Since then families have moved.  Families have changed.  New generations have been born while others have passed.  Even though we are spread out now, this Christmas will be spent on the phone, internet and at home with the ones we love and reconnecting with the ones afar.  Let us all take time this Christmas to make memories with the family that we share this holiday with.  Whether you are related or not let this season bless you and everyone that you come in contact with.  Let the blessing of the new born King enlarge your “family” as it enlarges your heart.

Friends and Family

Friends and family love you no matter what you do,
Friends and family Always help each other though.
Having wonderful people to help you along,
They encourage and inspire you to stay strong.

Friends and family are the trees of strength,
When you need their help, they’ll go to any length.
They never judge you, just give you lots of love,
What wonderful blessings they are from God above.

Friends and family keep in touch,
You can lean on them, they’ll be your crutch.
They email or call day by day
And for each other they always pray.

(April 21 2007)

James Greene

Kelly Pittsenbarger

What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

December 21, 2013

The presence is… living in us

Today, prayerfully read Luke 2:1-7

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Everyone has felt at one time or another that they’ve experienced a miracle.  A miracle such as something that happened that should not have happened, or something that physically was impossible but thru some “greater power” it really happened.  That Greater Power, we all know, is God!  And yes, something happened to our family, and yes, we were given a true gift from God, a real miracle, and it happened at Christmas, the ultimate time to receive a Gift from God!

It was December 10, 2005, and our son, Chris, and my family decided to throw me a surprise 50th birthday party.  It couldn’t have been a better surprise, with old friends gathering to give the old man trouble.  It was special!  As we left the party that night, our son came up to me and put his arms around me and said, “Dad, I love you!”  I told him thanks for the party, returned the hug, and told him I loved him too.  Little did I know that our exchange might be the last time I would get to tell him that.

At 230am, our phone rang.  It was unexpected, startling.  The voice on the other end was somber, it easy Tim, Chris’s friend.  “You need to get to the hospital, Chris has been hurt.”  I asked how bad and got no reply.  My wife and I rushed to the car and headed to the hospital.  I know I prayed on my way, but honestly, I’m not sure what I said to God.  I was numb, expecting the worst and hoping for the best.  When we got there we were met by a hospital chaplain.  He told US Chris was in grave condition, he had a head injury, and they didn’t expect him to survive.  We wanted to see him, so they took his Mom and I back to the room where they were working on him.  It was not good.  He was unresponsive.  I held his hand and he squeezed, but they told me he was not reacting time me.  He was reacting to the blood pooling in his head, causing his brain to swell.  He was dying.  We were so scared.  I knew of nothing else to do but pray.  I prayed for God to spare our son.  I prayed for the doctors who operated on his brain to fix him.  I prayed harder than I’ve ever prayed.  A good doctor friend told US before the surgery he didn’t think he would survive it, but he did!  He improved, a little each day.  They told US he would need to live in a nursing home for the rest of his life. I truly felt I heard God tell me “Do not listen to this, I’ve got it!”  And He did!  Chris indeed, after months and months of rehab, did survive, and thru everything our doctors have told US, his recovery is a miracle.  He should not be able to talk, but he can!  He shouldnt be able to walk, but he can!  He shouldnt be able to drive a car, but he does.  And he certainly should not be able to be a daddy, but he is!!  God took over that night, that awful, crazy night, and held our son in His arms, and healed him!  We have witnessed a true miracle from God…I have no doubt He is the reason Chris is alive today.  Our faith has blossomed since then, and we know Through Him All Things Are Possible!  It was the ultimate Christmas gift from God, who gave us His ultimate gift…His Son!

Submitted by: Mike & Renee Paulsell

What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

December 20, 2013

The presence is… full of surprises

 

Today, prayerfully read Luke 1:62-65

When I went to Colorado at Christmas time and me and my sister skied and started chucking snow balls while we skied. Awesome Christmas!  Will Fronabarger, 4th grade

What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?

December 19, 2013

The presence is… worth finding

 

Today, prayerfully read Luke 1:59-61

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What are your experiences?  The meaning of your relationships?  How have you been transformed through the miracle of the incarnation?