In all chaos and reality, choose JOY.

 

Have a joy filled season,

Shariorng

Advertisements

Sharing a little late but catching up. Make space for peace.

Such a great Advent wreath idea and extension into Lent found at Joywares.

 

Enjoy the coming holiday,

Many Blessings,
Sharired

GreatGiftI may be a year late but it was worth it never the less. This would not be the first Christmas where gifts were not the focus. There have been several seasons over the last decade when the Christmas focus was more about presence than presents. This year proved the importance of the presence of Jesus – THE Greatest Gift.

This December I had the opportunity to lead a small group for the four weeks of advent – using Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift ~ Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmascomplete with resources for Jesse Tree Ornaments. I have to admit I was fed more than I led. And that is a great gift of the presence of Christ in this Christmas season. Going into this advent season , I knew it would be hard – our family had lost my father this past July and Yuletide Greetings, merry making and festivities were the furthest things from my mind. So in an effort to drown out the noise of the hustle and bustle, I was longing for some comfort and joy. And I made it to the other side of Christmas – broken and hurting, worn out and tired. I felt a sense of certitude yet still questioning – What is the Greatest Gift? Was is Jesus? Love? Hope? Peace? Joy? As a leader of this group – I felt I had missed it – the greatest gift. I feared that in the midst of Christmas rush that I had missed the point. I was sure that Jesus was the gift we were talking about – the arrival of the long awaited Messiah is what Advent is all about.

Still, I felt left out of the message – though I was not. By Christmas Eve I was emotional and hollow for the presence of my father and family – and as quickly as I had sunken into my hurt the words came – ‘Rejected at the inn, holy God comes in small to where you feel rejected and small. God is with you now. Wherever you are – in a soundless cry or hidden brokenness or in your ache – God always wants to be with you. You are not ever left alone in this. We are never left alone in this; GOD is with us.’ The Greatest Gift, pg 246.
JesseTree
I believe that is exactly what Jesus came for – this is why we celebrate, this is why remember, this is the greatest gift – Jesus the greatest gift. Love the greatest gift – He did it for love. The presence of Christ; the God-man  – there are no Christmas presents that compare to this. Immanuel, God with us. We are never alone and we are loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Christina RossettiChristmastide (1885)

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. ~1 John 4:16

I love Christmas, I always have. If you remember last year’s Advent postings on A Family Advent: Keeping the Savior in the Season, the focus of those four weeks was Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. Each week was filled with food for thought, family activities and children’s projects and goals for the season of Advent.

This year I decided to return to a book that I’d had for a few years Advent Moments: Preparing Your Heart for the Coming King. I have to admit I didn’t give it much thought – then while at the store I was looking at other new devotionals for Advent – a little voice said no use the Advent Moments devotional it would be good to take another look at it. I mean it’s true I can’t even remember where I had put Christmas decor last year (good thing I have pictures to help), so hardly could I recall the words and devotions in this book.

I am so glad I decided to give it a second look – I have been so inspired and filled by the words in the each day’s reading. I have been at a place that I never wanted to be – separated from God and those that I love, on the outskirts and not initiating like I usually do. Yet, the few minutes that I spend each day in reading the verses and meditations are making the meaning come alive, making its “message” more meaningful and keeping the purpose of this season at the forefront of my thoughts and intentions. Only then can the leftovers of shopping, baking, decorating and merriment be enjoyed at Christmastime.  During this season of Advent and Christmas – meditate on the hope, the peace, the joy and the LOVE.

Advent and Christmastime are not meant to be exclusive holidays to just Christians – no the gift of the Saviour Jesus Christ was a gift to the world. And that is LOVE! Jesus was sent for all – all those who hurt, all those who are poor, all those who are struggling, all those who are shameful, all those who are righteous, all those who don’t believe – ALL. Christmas is about Christ the gift of a loving God concerned for his creation, his world, his children.

The Merriest of Christmases to You, Remember the King!

So here it is the last week of Advent. A Family Advent: Keeping the Savior in the Season by Thomas Nelson Publishers, has guided us through the last few weeks. The themes being Hope, Peace, Love and now Joy – yes this is the time when the merriment of the holiday really starts to hit home. It is hard though when so much is going on. Work, work, work, holiday shopping, bills, errands, parties and where is the peace, the joy, the hope and the LOVE for the holiday that I once cherished as a child.

I swear I can never get Christmas right every year. Its like some year’s I am on – I get the right gifts and everything works out. And other years I am totally off  – I have no idea what to get anyone, I can’t think of a single meaningful thing to make or create. That is this year – I am befuddled, I am stumped, I am JOY-less. I can’t seem to do Christmas right this year. Even my attempt to go through Advent seemed chaotic and forced – I wanted this to be special. I am still trying to figure it out – how I can salvage this last month of ups and downs. In my struggle to find hope, in my struggle to find peace, in my struggle to love and find joy – I know that there is JOY – for the world, for me, for everyone there is joy.

I have to admit I’ve let the commercialism of Christmas get the best of me. And it has gotten me down – totally depressed and stressed :-(. I would be most joyful with my family and friends at the table, sharing time together and talking together. Last Christmas was just that – time together, the memories and the laughter that is what I remember – the gifts are nice and it is wonderful to give gifts and receive. But it’s not the same if you open your gifts alone. The JOY of togetherness is what makes the true gift of this season special. That is my prayer and wish for the Christmas;

May the JOY of the Saviour’s birth bring us together in harmony, hope, peace, love and grace.

Merry Christmas!

The third week of Advent is upon us and the theme is Love. In A Family Advent by Thomas Nelson Publishing, we have followed through Hope and Peace and now “Love is what we need”.

It is because of the great heart of God that we celebrate the Advent season and Christmas. We are so grateful for the gift of our loving God and the sacrifice that was made for all mankind! Yes all. Advent and Christmastime are not meant to be exclusive holidays to just Christians – no the gift of the Saviour Jesus Christ was a gift to the world. And that is LOVE! Jesus was sent for all – all those who hurt, all those who are poor, all those who are struggling, all those who are shameful, all those who are righteous, all those who don’t believe – ALL. Christmas is about Christ the gift of a loving God concerned for his creation, his world, his children.

He came so long ago – humble and quiet and to the lowly shepherds the great angel hosts proclaimed the birth and in the simple stable the birth of the Saviour took place. His birth made headlines – at least in the Bible – and today we are still baffled by the mystery, the joy, the hope and the LOVE of the greatest gift.

May you be blessed this Advent and may the LOVE of God surround you!

~Shari~