"It is foolishness and a stumbling block. Foolishness, because the very idea of the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe being born of a teenage virgin in a stable in a tiny nation of no account at the far end of the Mediterranean is utterly ridiculous. Indeed, one might say that it looks very much like proof that God cannot exist -- at least, that is, God built according to our specifications and requirements. An offence because I do not need salvation, especially salvation brought by a pre-modern peasant's child in some backward place nobody would otherwise ever have heard of." As we proclaim the message of Christmas, we should not attempt to "make Christianity look sophisticated or moral as the world understand these things. Least of all is it stand-up comedy designed to entertain those who might otherwise seek their fun elsewhere. Its agenda, especially at Christmas, is not to be determined by unbelief or what the hipsters in the Village will tolerate or what the brain's trust at MIT think is plausible."I stand on what I know to be true. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16)
Monday, December 12, 2011
A Christmas Weekend
Despite my failures, God continues to bless. What a beautiful weekend! Saturday we busied ourselves with housework and projects. I've learned to thank God for TIME to clean. I don't like doing it, but I like a clean house. Fred was given a restaurant gift card for his birthday, so he treated us all to Olive Garden! We don't often go out to eat, so it is a special occasion. Olive Garden has gluten-free pasta and all that salad! It was very cold outside, but cozy inside this bustling restaurant on a Christmasy Saturday night. Afterwards we drove through winding streets on the way home to see the houses all lit up while listening to Christmas music on the radio. We passed through the old neighborhood where the boys grew up, bringing ghosts of memories as I remembered people who lived here long ago. My next-door neighbor who lost her son in Afghanistan a couple of years ago has her house adorned in twinkling lights. We were glad to see that. Hope lives on.
At home the girls and I played a rousing game of Quiddler in front of the fire. Driving around looking at the lovely (and cheesy) decorations people set up, listening to the meaningful (and silly) Christmas songs, playing games on a cold winter night: these are our traditions. Are we missing the true meaning of Christmas, as some might say? I don't think so. Our traditions remind us of God's goodness in past years as we do all over again the things we've enjoyed before. They give us hope that we will continue them next year and beyond. And when we are gone, our children will carry on these traditions.
Our family was asked to light the Advent candle in front of the church on Sunday. Oh, the turmoil for the girls in deciding on an outfit, and how would they do their hair? I reminded them that all their friends will be in their Sunday school classes and would not see them. Still, it was exciting and a little scary for them to stand before the throngs of people watching. These same two girls a few years ago sang a duet in front of hundreds on Christmas Eve. What happened to them, that innocence lost? This morning we were up front about one minute total, so it really wasn't too traumatic. With the girls dressed up and lighted trees surrounding us, we had the perfect opportunity for a Christmas photo. So here it is. Long gone are the days of my babies posing at the Sears portrait studio. (So sad...)
One of our best family traditions is to attend the concert at our church each year. This is definitely not a "holiday concert" but a Christmas concert. Through music and the word the message is clear: God's son was born to die in order to save the world. Crazy, huh? So, in spite of our fun traditions, we remember what Christmas is really about. Carl Trueman writing on church services this time of the year: