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World Views

A Properly Sentimental Season: Celebrating Christmas From the Heart

 

 This time of year, Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a time of joy, thanksgiving; a time with family and friends. Indeed, it is a time filled with worship as we remember that glorious gospel truth: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” [John 1:14].

One thing, however, that Christians often fail to recognize at this time of year is the sweetness of Christmas. The sweetness of this season can easily be diminished by the temptations of busyness and materialism—the commercialization of Christmas has secularized the story of Christ’s birth. As part of our culture, Christians must realize how easily we can jettison the sweetness of Christmas and let the glory of this season be eclipsed by this secular world.

Indeed, at this time of year, there are competing sentimentalities vying for our affections. There is the sentimentality of a secularized Christmas—one that has happiness in the material goods associated with this time of year, whether that be presents, food, or the music we only hear in the month of December. There is, however, another kind of sentimentality—a sentimentality of the Christian faith and the Christian gospel. There is a sentimentality that is essential to our understanding of God’s love for us. There is a sentimentality necessary for Christmas.

Martin Luther was one figure in the history of the church who powerfully understood the glory and sweetness of Christmas. In fact, he understood sentiment as necessary, for it was revealed in the nativity stories contained in Matthew and Luke. There was a tenderness, a sweetness, between Mary and Joseph. There was a sweetness in the heart of Mary as she responded to the angel Gabriel with submission and obedience. There is a beauty in the lowly nature of Jesus’ birth—the second person of the Trinity, the very Son of God, the eternal Logos lay swaddled in a manger.

Luther wanted Christians to see this sweet narrative of God’s inestimable love. The one who spoke the world into being became the baby in Bethlehem’s manger. He condescended in unimaginable humility to become the son of Mary. He did not come into the world with the grandeur given to worldly princes and princesses. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever was that tiny infant held in his mother’s arms. This was the savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had come to rescue us from our sin.

To capture this sweetness, Martin Luther wrote a song for his own children at Christmas. The song concludes with these words:

This King is but a little child,
His mother blessed, Mary mild.
His cradle is but now a stall,
yet he brings joy and peace to all.

Now, let us all with songs of cheer,
Follow the shepherds and draw near,
to find this wondrous gift of Heav’n
The blessed Christ whom God hath giv'n.

To each of you, Merry Christmas. May you celebrate Christmas in all of its wonder, in all of its glory, in all of its grandeur—yes, in all of its sweetness. May you be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Christ and may you proclaim that Christ has indeed come. Tell the wholeness of the story of Christ this season. Teach it to your children and your grandchildren. Sing Christmas carols and sing them with gusto.

Celebrate the true sentiment of Christmas. Don’t miss the glory, the sweetness, of Christmas.                                                           By Albert Mohler

 

 

Posted by Art Flickinger

Covid Vaccine and Year End Musings

Praise the Lord! Two Covid vaccines are being distributed and are now being administered to front line workers and the most vulnerable. Vice President Pence, his wife and The Surgeon General all received the first of two injections of the Pfizer vaccine, live on TV.  This goes a long way in boosting the confidence of the American people in the vaccine. It reminds me of when Elvis Pressley , in 1956 volunteered to take the Polio vaccine, live on The Ed Sullivan Show. Because of his popularity thousands flocked to the nearest clinic to become vaccinated. As for me, I'm waiting for Mick Jagger to get his, so I can see how it affects the geriatric population. 

The roll out of the vaccine has not been without controversy, somehow we managed to pit the elderly against people of color for vaccine priority. Unless I'm mistaken age itself does not discriminate, you are either old or your not. In America we take care of the old, weak and the infirmed first, because that's what we do. The "woke" need to wake up! I am thankful that we were able to get this vaccine out in record time, a miracle in of itself! 

"The future is uncertain and the end is always near," is a lyric from the Doors song, "Roadhouse Blues." Jim Morrison's answer to this quandary is, "Let it roll, baby, roll." I have heard this song many times but for some reason, just the other day these lyrics just got stuck in my mind. The lyrics sum up Morrison's philosophy of life in the brief lines of a song. Unfortunately, it was also the mantra for many other folks during the late 60's and seventies. Drugs, sex and rock n' roll was the worldview of many in this generation. A hedonistic lifestyle was needed to assuage the uncertainty of the future and eat drink and be merry because tomorrow you may die, was the excuse they needed to carry on. A purposeless life that has led many to destruction, including Morrison himself, who was found dead of a drug overdose, in his lonely Paris apartment. A rejection of God leaves one with no hope and leads to a  life of despair. The Christian worldview, in contrast, we know that we are made in the image of our Creator God with a clear purpose in life. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." There is no need for us to let it roll, our future is certain and our purpose is clear. Amen!

We all have lived through a year of great tumult in our politics, a pandemic, panic, paranoia, unemployment, civil unrest. and the painful loss of friends and family. It is too painful to reiterate it all. I will leave that for others to do and maybe I'll go back and read it some other time. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."  (2 Corin. 4:16-18)

Wishing you all a joy filled Christmas. May the peace of the Christ child rest and abide in your hearts as he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Merry Christmas to you and yours, and God Bless you all!

Art

 

Posted by Art Flickinger

Happy Thanksgiving

 The Desolate Wilderness

Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:

So they left that goodly and pleasant city of Leyden, which had been their resting-place for above eleven years, but they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers here below, and looked not much on these things, but lifted up their eyes to Heaven, their dearest country, where God hath prepared for them a city (Heb. XI, 16), and therein quieted their spirits.

When they came to Delfs-Haven they found the ship and all things ready, and such of their friends as could not come with them followed after them, and sundry came from Amsterdam to see them shipt, and to take their leaves of them. One night was spent with little sleep with the most, but with friendly entertainment and Christian discourse, and other real expressions of true Christian love.

The next day they went on board, and their friends with them, where truly doleful was the sight of that sad and mournful parting, to hear what sighs and sobs and prayers did sound amongst them; what tears did gush from every eye, and pithy speeches pierced each other’s heart, that sundry of the Dutch strangers that stood on the Key as spectators could not refrain from tears. But the tide (which stays for no man) calling them away, that were thus loath to depart, their Reverend Pastor, falling down on his knees, and they all with him, with watery cheeks commended them with the most fervent prayers unto the Lord and His blessing; and then with mutual embraces and many tears they took their leaves one of another, which proved to be the last leave to many of them. Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.

The Wall Street Journal                                                                                                              This editorial has appeared annually since 1961.                                        Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the November 25, 2020, print edition.

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